I touched on this in my last entry, but I wanted to bring this idea up again and expand upon it.
The first of the tax rebate checks are in the mail at this moment. Generally, the amounts range from $300 to $600, depending on taxable income and marital status. The aim of the rebate is to stimulate the economy; we're supposed to go out and spend this money on PDAs, plane tickets, picnic tables and the like.
I have major problems with this rebate, not the least of which is the way it's being marketed. The letter sent to recipients last week informing them of the amount they'd be getting was nothing more than a multi-million dollar campaign piece for the Bush 2004 re-election effort, underwritten by the taxpayers. A note of explanation could have easily been included with the checks themselves, and without the self-serving line "President George W. Bush has signed into law..."
The rebate money should have gone toward governmental issues that require our attention, such as continuing to pay down the national debt or shoring up Social Security. Failing that, it should have been kept on hand to make up the inevitable tax shortfall that will hit government coffers as a result of our current economic downturn.
However, the deed is done and the money's on its way. The power now falls to us. What will we do with this cash?
One witty, if unworkable, suggestion I've heard is to endorse the checks over to Social Security and send them back. As poetically tempting as this sounds, we won't be able to give the money back to the government and force them to use it responsibly.
We can cash the checks and do with them what was originally intended: spend it. The money does belong to each person who gets it. As such, anyone who chooses to spend it should have no qualms about doing so.
However, I don't think that's the best thing we can do, and I would like to suggest another way to use the money: give it away.
There are any number of ways to do this. One can go the traditional route and give it to a charity. If you can't think of a favorite off the top of your head, visit my old employer, GuideStar. Their site has tools to help you find groups that share your values and can use the money well.
You can give it to a friend or family member in need. Done anonymously, this would be a great good for both parties.
If you attend one, you can stuff it into the collection envelope for your house of worship.
You can hand the cash to a homeless person along with a sandwich and a blanket, ala Bill Murray in Scrooged.
Those are just a few ideas. I'm sure there are many more. It's ultimately a personal matter, and each of us must reconcile it for, and with, ourselves.
For what it's worth, my money will be divided up evenly between PFLAG, NARAL, and a player to be named later.
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