To build a greater sense of community


Until the February 3, 2004 vote on recalling the legislature’s $1 billion tax increase, we can expect countless editorials about how a successful recall will hurt Oregon’s poor, the elderly and children. What the editorials won’t say, however, is that higher taxes and more government stifle community solutions.

In the spring of 2003 a great sense of community was developing in the Portland area. When Portland public schools announced they might close for a couple weeks, parents in my daughter’s class started to talk to one another about privately hiring a teacher. Several local organizations tossed around collaborative ideas for educational opportunities.

Then, the Portland City Council forked over more taxpayer dollars to keep the schools open. Many cheered, but they ignored the fact that the government action killed a growing private, voluntary effort.

Alexis de Tocqueville witnessed, and was astounded by, Americans’ private charitable instincts during the 1800s. With foresight he warned, “The more government takes the place of associations, the more will individuals lose the idea of forming associations and need government to come to their help.”

Oregonians can contribute to countless private associations to help the truly needy. Habitat for Humanity. United Way. Churches. The Muscular Dystrophy Association. Union Gospel Mission. Salvation Army. Ronald McDonald House. Red Cross. Shelters for abused women. And more.

A free society of independent individuals and strong communities is the result of private, voluntary associations. Support them.

Kurt T. Weber is vice president of Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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