Tag Archives: Government

Banning Technology From Children

It seems there’s always a new mobile device, game console, or movie that catches our children’s interest, because they live in the same world we do and we love it! There is increasingly more and more technology piling up all around us. Parents have always worried that their children spend too much time using technology and not enough time exploring the world away from the screens. When I was a boy (cue to rocking chair, beard stroking, and glassy eyed reminisce of the 90’s) my screen-based entertainment options were television and Nintendo. And big screen movies, of course. My parent’s only option was probably the television, but they had the moon landing. So outdoors was more attractive. Now technology is available on such screens that leave television in the dust. Little screens, big screens, touch screens. Screens as big as your head! If the kids are looking at too many screens, should we ban them?

The Huffington Post recently published 10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12. Pediatric occupational therapist, Cris Rowan advocates adherence to published guidelines for technology usage by children and calls on, “parents, teachers and governments to ban the use of all handheld devises for children under the age of 12 years.” She then lists ten reasons technology is bad for children. Sounds great, and I agree with all of them. Unfortunately, a few unconsidered lines about the responsibility of government to ban something best regulated elsewhere, ruins the heart of the message.

I don’t know the intentions of the author, but it’s possible that the points I rail on here were simply afterthoughts. But they were written, and even in the title. She presents good research on why children should spend less time in front of screens, but then leaves the door open a crack for legislation enthusiasts to start sharpening their pencils. I know I’m reading into what is really a minor angle of the article, but my point is to remember our own responsibility before we start advocating outright bans which negate individual decision making.

A better title would not have begun with the numerical “10” or used the word “Banned.” That reads like check-out line trash. “Coerce your Community in 10 Easy Steps by Imposing Your Values on Them.” As this certainly is not an article about governments or bans, the title is misleading in calling for a “ban” at all. Is the author actually advocating legislation that would make it illegal for people of a certain age to use handheld devices? Not in this article, no. So why say so? Words have meaning, so be careful. What happens in your own house is a rule, not a ban.

The author identifies three distinct groups as the audience for her 10 Reasons, thus indicating that all three share some responsibility on guiding the use of these devices. However, in calling on “parents, teachers and governments,” she is calling on too many people. The government is assumed to be an acceptable authority, casually grouped with parents and teachers.

If the government is any given authority to ban the use of something, then it doesn’t really matter what the parents or the teachers think, so you can’t include them all. And, if the parents are directing the activity of their own children at home, and the teachers are directing the activities of the enrolled students at school – what and where is the government’s place in influence the activities of children?

Not every child is affected equally by their use of technology (gasp!), nor by anything at all. Most importantly, not every child is playing the same games or using the same apps. “Technology” is a really, really big blanket, the four corners of which are not even hinted at in this article. The difference between an action packed racing/shooting/blow ’em up adventure game and a counting/spelling/learn to sing and compose your own music iPad app is measured by the parsec. Case in point: YOU don’t know what a parsec is, do you? You have NO IDEA. Admit it. Something to do with space and distance. Maybe Star Trek. And since you don’t know, your kid won’t know either – since it could be illegal to use a hand held device to look it up.

Click here for more info on parsecs. Must be 12 or older to learn!

My son is three years old and doesn’t play any games involving fast cars, ninjas, or tanks. But he loves his occasional shows and educational games and embraces his limited and supervised time interacting with the computer and iPad. He is learning to spell and count. He gives a monster a hair cut and makes a make-believe sandwich, which he then shares with me. I tried to teach him some basic addition but he wasn’t paying attention, since he is just three and I was just using words. Since I don’t like math I couldn’t make it appealing and was I probably frowning too much.  (Grrr…math). But after some time with a mathematics app involving little animals and lots of bubbles, he recently informed me that 2 and 2 is 4. He preferred to learn it his way.

My son also loves singing and playing music. He has a guitar, and a ukulele, and a harmonica. He is very loud, but he’s also very talented. I don’t love playing music. I don’t have any musical skills at all, but I sing with him anyway and he doesn’t know enough to run away – yet. He’ll only get so far with me as a music teacher, but there’s an app for that. It teaches him how to compose his own music.

If you want to be like these guys, go for it. This family banned all technology invented after 1986. That means Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is Ok, but “Bad” is a no-go in the world of arbitrary dates. They didn’t like the way technology had taken over their lives, so they did something about. Whatever their reasons, that family probably experienced most of the 10 Reasons stated in Rowan’s article and they acted accordingly, for themselves. The danger in suggesting that the government should do the same for all of us, even if presented casually and well intentioned, could rob many children of valid life enriching opportunities. So steer clear of bans!


School Choice

I was asked to review the book School Choice: The Findings by Herbert J. Walberg (2007), which compares the status quo traditional public school system alongside a few alternatives. Though not specifically addressing programs in the state of Oregon nor the Montessori educational approach (topics of personal and community interest), nor saying much about homeschooling (another relevant topic of interest), this book organizes a clear framework for considering potential educational options.

This is a statistics-heavy research-based publication. Parents and students who are able to make a school choice and attend a school other than the default public school in their district are found to be more satisfied with their educational experience. When schooling is detached from random housing boundaries, the results are positive. Consistently, students do as well or better than their peers who are in the nearby government-funded and government-run schools.

In reviewing charter schools (see below), voucher programs (publicly funded scholarships to private schools), and private schools (privately funded and run), the book does not necessarily advocate a singular path away from traditional public school but rather emphasizes choice and the positive effects of available alternatives. All three of these options must be chosen, they cannot fall into the lap of the parent. And each of the three must be given as an available option in order for the choice to be made. Choosing families and non-choosing families in the community are most commonly affected with a positive outcome by the choices the choosers are able to make.

It is suggested that most parents with students in public school do not choose for their children to be there – they just ended up there by default. Either the parents want an alternative to traditional public school and are unable to obtain it, or they simply accept the situation as it is, often with reservations. I don’t think this can be true for everyone, but the research shows it is typical that most parents dislike (to one degree or another) something significant about their public school.

As one of the three options presented by Walberg, Charter Schools are explained as having the benefits of wider accessibility due to their funding source by the state (similar to a public school), and as having the greater economic efficiency and improved academics possible through non-centralized, independent leadership (as often found in private schools). A compromise between extremes, charter schools are popular and they generally accept (by random lottery) only a fraction of those interested. Research shows that enrolled students do well and the charter school raises the local standard of excellence in the community by influencing neighboring public schools to make positive competitive changes.

That charter schools are only a compromise rather than something totally different from a traditional public school is observable from by the following. They are often over-regulated, a quality they were most often founded to avoid, and they receive lower funding than public schools, though funded from the same source. Funding varies widely from state to state and can lag significantly behind the local neighboring public schools. However, as with private schools, charter schools have shown they can do more with less.

Walberg finishes by discussing the positive benefits of competition resulting from school choice and the importance of parental satisfaction with school choice. Hopefully we are moving towards increased freedom of choice, allowing parents to step outside the rigid boundaries of the status quo to make individual decisions about the quality education each wants for their children. In order to do so, it is important that a great many options are made available, in order to make a choice.

Who Will Build the Bike Lanes?

I recently complained about the government ruining a good thing by taxing it. Pay by the mile auto insurance could turn into pay by the mile auto taxation, if some have their way. The government will always turn a good idea for saving money into a bad idea for losing money.

As an aside in my recent complaint, I pondered the threat of bicycle lane taxes as the next logical step. Too soon I remembered I had heard something like this before! Oregon had been murmuring about a statewide tax on bicycle purchases to make up for the loss of revenue from all those bicycle commuters who ditched their cars for the fresh breezes and healthy conscience of pedal power. This line of reasoning was brought on by the perceived over-bicyclization of Portland, but in this scheme the whole state of Oregon would pay for Portland’s sin of reduced carbon emissions. That’s a dandy.

Oregon is of course one of the few states with no sales tax and Portland is one of the few cities with a bazillion happy bicycle commuters. We even have a huge bike counter on the Hawthorne Bridge to celebrate! Bikes and no sales tax are good things, why mess with it now? The City of Portland spends a lot of money on bicycle-friendly infrastructure improvements which are often perceived at the expense of automobile infrastructure improvements. (There are a number of randomly unpaved gravel roads in my Portland neighborhood, but these are bad for cars and bikes alike – but good for three year olds in rain boots!)

The Oregonian reported that, “There is little organized opposition to bicycle use in Portland … However, there is latent, but pervasive, uneasiness among some residents that expanding bicycling opportunities will come at the expense of other modes of transportation.” Well, only if the state wastes their money on it.

If Portlanders in cars don’t want to pay for bicycle lanes to contain the Portlanders who are not in cars, then surely the people driving around Salem, Bend, and Eugene don’t want to pay for Portland’s bicycle lanes either. Instead of finding a different non-interested party to pay for something they’re not interested in, Portland should hire a private company to build their bike lanes. Paint a line on the side of the road and nail up a few signs. Some people in Seattle will even do it for free, and some folks out in Memphis are paying for their bike lanes with crowdfunding. Big companies are getting involved too, such as Amazon’s two block bike lane project back up in Seattle. It will be cheaper and more efficient if the work is privately contracted and we would cut out wasteful spending on spectacles like the proposed singing bike lane, and just paint some nice straight stripes as needed.

I wonder if the singing bike lane would be funded by the ill-conceived Portland Arts Tax?

Technology is Taxing. So is Driving.

There’s a great new technology in auto insurance where drivers can pay per mile, which rewards lower mileage driving with lower insurance costs, and is surely less boring than insurance-as-usual. Using a device that plugs into the car, data is sent  out to one of these entrepreneurial insurance companies, such as Metromile, to track the actual quantity of miles driven by the insured car, rewarding your good work. In paying for only what is used, infrequent drivers can save some serious money and avoid paying what the “average” user “like” them pays. But you’re better than average, right? Sounds like a great business model – use technology to help people save money on a product they use infrequently but must pay for anyway!

We’re giving it a test drive this month to see how many miles we actually drive. We’ll compare the cost to our current traditional auto insurance and I expect to save a lot. The small device plugs into a port I didn’t even know existed, located below the steering column. I now know I’m averaging about 8 miles a day, having only driven over 20 miles on 6 separate occasions.

But hey, that’s a great idea and so the government is ready to reach between your legs and plug one of these into your car to generate tax revenue! Unsatisfied with the nation’s growing trend towards driving fewer miles (which means less gas purchased and fewer tax dollars paid), the government is looking for ways to make those who pay less – pay more.

I’d like to think most people try to consider the environment before they make choices (some think about it more than others, but it helps when more green equals more $green$). Big Government certainly thinks about the environment and tells us to play nice and drive less. But penalizing drivers who choose to drive high-mileage hybrids and electric cars (and who pay fewer or no gas taxes) with a new kind of tax that removes all the benefits by collecting taxes on a per mile basis is not going to do a lot for promoting gas efficient cars and economical use of resources. Recently the Obama administration mandated new regulations in fuel efficiency “with the goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption.” They even said that “families will save money.” Save the world and save money! Sounds nice, but we knew it was too good to be true. Start riding your bike before they tax the bike lane.

Paying for what you use is better than paying for the average of what everyone uses, if you’re going to have to fork over your first fruits anyway. So much for trying to save money. We might as well stay home and not go anywhere. Until recently we didn’t have a car, so I wouldn’t have cared. I won’t be surprised if they charge a fee, penalty, or “tax” for not participating.

Drone On

To much fanfare, President Obama announced that the Federal Government will scale back the use of drone strikes, with new restrictions on “deciding whom to kill.” Targeted killings have been carried out in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and other far off lands (away from American citizen’s concern) for the last decade in a generally secretive manner. The objective is to kill suspected terrorists and as few other people who have nothing to do with terrorism as possible.

The war in Afghanistan, which has no legitimate objective and now exists only as an agenda item to give the military as we know it legitimacy, is scheduled to conclude by the end of 2014. The fact that one can even schedule the end of a war so far in advance (or at all) proves the war exists because someone scheduled it into existence in the first place.  And while the President and his people are brainstorming and graphing out the most convenient time to end this war (and plan the next one), they managed to come up with clever new bullet points about whom to kill and whom not to kill.

Gee, I’m glad they could fit it in.

Foreign Interventionism continues as the de facto method of American interaction with the rest of the world, and despite their arguments about whom to kill, the two largest parties are still arguing over quantities of deaths and who started it in the first place. No one is questioning the deeper issue of whether we should be involved at all, as fingers continue to point, always at others. President Bush started using the drones, but President Obama has continued the practice with generally increasing intensity over the successive years. Still, the Democrats try to project an image of respectability with their timetables for withdrawal and commitment to target terrorists “only when children are not around,” as Secretary of State John Kerry compassionately pointed out (a clever distraction). Mr. Kerry also says that his team has thought about their actions good and hard, so mistakes are rarely made. Republicans like John McCain, who by no means represents his entire party, and probably doesn’t spend much time thinking good and hard, would like to use more force (without a schedule or timetable) – a position that moves bonus points over to President Obama simply by the existence of such an idea. All the President’s has to do is frown and disagree.

The President’s party will applaud his commitment to peace, and using the “least destructive way to fight people…who are conspiring against the United States.” But there are so many things wrong with a government that tries to make itself look good by pointing out how few people it has killed compared to the other faction of the same government, especially when the opposite may be true. Motives can blind us from the truth when we’re told that killing conspirators saves lives.

At the end of the day the President has suggested that using drones to target and kill suspected terrorists is probably not a good idea, and we should have some stricter guidelines in place. He wants the government to be more responsible, and even though he has the power to stop the practice like a bad habit, he’s going to keep droning on with his global assassination campaign anyway. At least we now know he has a conscience to reject.

Brush Your Own Teeth

The people of Portland will vote with their toothbrushes this May.

Last August the City Council voted to add fluoride to the city’s drinking water, as Portland is one of the largest cities in the country that has not yet done so. Anti-fluoride activists were up in arms, bristling at the thought. Signatures were gathered and a referendum will now be set before the people. Voting was originally scheduled for 2014, but the vote has been moved to the upcoming odd-year election when participation is low due to the absence of any national concerns on the ballot. Your individual vote couldn’t be more important.

I divide the disapproving into two groups, both frowning. Some are opposed to fluoride, the actual physical element, and others are opposed to digressing individual rights and might not care much about scientific debate as much as misplaced executive order (or city council order anyway). I identify more with the government oppression crowd, but see value in brushing my own teeth. I happen to be going to the dentist tomorrow morning.

Proponents of mass fluoridation, such as Everyone Deserves Healthy Teeth, and many dentists believe that things worth doing can only be done by the government. If we can’t be trusted to brush our own teeth, this typical progressive mindset will soon lead to a ban on personal ownership of toothbrushes themselves.

Once fluoridation is introduced, the matter of regulating the precise amount becomes a central concern. Most who think about it would agree that too much fluoride is bad beans, so the question which cannot be answered is, “How much is too much?”  The pro-fluoridation camp insists that the amounts in question and in use are miniscule, so as to be insignificant. This is probably true, but I’d rather trust my own judgement on what is best for my own body, teeth included.

Rather than force all water drinkers in the city to ingest a potentially suspect chemical, why not reach out directly to the people who really want the benefits of fluoride or need a little help? If the city is going to spend money on something (inevitably spent on everyone equally or on certain people specifically), why not help lower income folks and others for whom the benefit is intended, by providing additional preventative dental services and actual dental care? There’s some of that already going on, so why not do enough to matter? It will surely save us all money and just the teeth that need it.

I’ll leave it to others to argue about the possible negative effects of fluoride, both on the natural environment and to our individual bodies. The unknowns are small uncertainties and thus open to debate, but the matter is hardly proven science one way or another. Even if many dentists recommend mass fluoridation of the city water supply, some experts say it’s not a good idea.

While the science is perplexing to me, removing personal responsibility only increases our tax burden as we all begin to brush each other’s teeth. The tooth brushes will grow bigger and bigger. We might even start using one big brush. The Portland Toothbrush. We’ll fight over what color it is and which medicine cabinet to keep it in. There will be a bristle for each of us, and we’ll all spit into the same sink.

It’s not miracle water. You still have to brush your own teeth.

Unconstitutional Arts Tax

Worse tax ever.

A flat $35 tax is due this April from every adult living in the city of Portland. It doesn’t matter what your income is. You just have to have one. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like art (or sending children to government school). The ballot measure, which was approved by voters last November, is the worse kind of tax as there is no relative relation to your income. The rich and the poor pay the same.

After the $0.99 convenience fee to pay online (a tax on a tax?), I’m down $35.99 and have nothing to show for it except a nifty postcard reminding me to pay. If I need to split it into two payments, they charge an extra dollar for their trouble!

From what I can tell, the only exemptions are for those with income below the poverty line. But you have to prove your poverty.

Even if your income is $34 dollars, you own $35.

Opposition to this tax has nothing to do with art or music and everything to do with non-consensual government plunder sanctioned by a majority (62%!). While this opens a whole other conversation on the funding of public education by those who do not use it, why not tax the parents who currently send their students to public school? Call it tuition. If so many people have no problem paying, why not just have them pay? What if it was $350?

Most laughable, some supporters say that “supporting culture (is) an inherent element of social responsibility. That’s something we can all get behind.”

There is no responsibility in forced taxation. Responsibility requires choice and decision. Call it what it is. There is nothing to “get behind.” We’re just getting pulled under the school bus. And they call that “art.”

USPS: Postal Delivery Fail

This week the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced that they will discontinue most Saturday mail delivery in an effort to save their sinking ship. They will continue to deliver packages, however, and keep the early afternoon oil burning at your local post office six days a week. Some fans are overly distraught at the prospects of receiving less junk mail.

Though the USPS is not fully a government organization, it is the Federal Government’s  fault that they can no longer deliver the mail “rain or shine,” with a fixed commitment to deliver to every address, every day. With well over half a million workers, only the Federal Government itself and Walmart employ more people. Thousands of post office branches process billions of pieces of mail every day. They are really, really big and they don’t do their job very well.

The organization is billions of dollars behind budget, whereas competitors UPS and FedEx make healthy profits. But competitors are limited, as first class mail is protected by legal monopoly and private companies are not allowed to compete. Essentially, they are forced to charge higher prices to deliver the same package, in the same amount of time, to your door rather than your mailbox. Luckily they do a pretty good job.

Major problems with the government run system include a requirement to deliver to every address six days a week for the same cost, the pre-funding of health care benefits for employees, and the ability of Congress to change rates. What does Congress know about the cost to ship a package from Portland to Oregon City? And shouldn’t it be cheaper than Portland to New York City?

How can we save the USPS? With this be the downfall of America?

If the USPS is America, we have a problem. Who cares if they collapse? Cut loose the binds that tie the competition and let the moaning beast sink. There are plenty of capable organizations who will successfully compete to deliver the mail if the legal obstacles are removed. And those obstacles must be removed or we really do have a problem. If the Postal Service can figure out a way to come up breathing without tax money or legal training wheels, good for them – they can compete with equal opportunity for my business.

But sometimes failure just needs to fail. 

Congress is understandably outraged at this insubordination. How dare they act without approval! Don’t they know prudent trimming of withered branches is frowned upon?

Happy New Year From the Fiscal Cliff

Our government has done it again. They’ve made themselves necessary and showed that we need them to save us from themselves. If the war of the week isn’t big enough or the weather isn’t quite bad enough, a fiscal cliff ought to get our attention. I would like nothing better than for Congress to have nothing to do over the holidays.

But the bipartisan beast has reared its head again, as the House followed after the Senate to sidestep the disaster they created. The Democrats naturally want to increase funding to feed their bloated bureaucracy, but the Republicans showed up to unite the team after stalling just long enough to point out a few differences of  opinion… and… things… and stuff… and ok we’ll go along with that. Eventually, most Republicans succumbed to media spin and avoided being cast as the ones who might have saved us from the bill to save us from ourselves. Libertarians would have loved the chance.

Clearly the Congress has its priorities somewhere else, evidenced by their being in session on a holiday and involved in this silly exercise to fund the government. Not only should they have figured out how to fund their budgets and agendas a long time ago, there shouldn’t be so much to figure out. This is like getting excited about making the minimum payment on a credit card just to keep it a few dollars under the maximum credit limit. Woo.

They didn’t even pass this bill on time (a day late). President Obama basically said thanks for, “paying the bills guys,” and then headed back to vacation with his family where he should have been all week anyway. I enjoyed his request to Congress for, “a little less drama, a little less brinkmanship and (to) scare folks a little less in future fiscal dealings,” but he is just passing blame that rests equally with his administration as it does with Congress.

Senator Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican said, “”I reluctantly supported (the bill) because it sets in stone lower tax rates for roughly 99 percent of American taxpayers. With millions of Americans watching Washington with anger, frustration and anxiety that their taxes will skyrocket, this is the best course of action we can take to protect as many people as possible from massive tax hikes.”

Again, Congress is pointing out that they are necessary to save the day. Republicans are reluctant, while Democrats are happy to be of service. Same end result.

Republicans talk about cutting spending, but most will continue their part in feeding the bipartisan beast. Even if not spoken of today, Neocons have their own high spending schemes to fund, such as unconstitutional wars and foreign aid.  A compromise now, “…would avert most of the immediate pain and postpone Congress’ fiscal feud for two months…” Then they’ll do this again and there will be new villans.

Congressman Ron Paul commented that, “They’re arguing over power and… who looks good… but they’re all trying to preserve this system. Whatever they do will just be fluff and will not solve our problems… They’re like a bunch of drug addicts that just want another fix.”

So, if the Fed can just print more money (like it freely does), why do they even bother with raising taxes through an elaborate and drama induced fiscal cliff extravaganza?

Don’t Tax the Church

I saw this meme posted on Facebook recently:

Facebook Meme

Why should the churches be taxed? As a punishment to make them pay their fair share? Though the issue of churches and taxes is most commonly associated with the paying or not paying of property taxes, the popular sentiment on Facebook around this and other images I’ve seen shows an interest in punishing the church simply for being the church. It could be that those who Like this poster don’t know that churches are exempt from certain taxes, and may not know that churches are voluntary associations funded by voluntary contributions from individuals who also pay a portion of their income to the government in taxes. The latter is a non-voluntary contribution.

A common topic thrown around in the media lately is the need to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for the ballooning scope of the federal government. The big red balloon needs more hot air, so why not target other groups that seem to have a good thing going? The cathedral in the image above certainly gives that impression, but must everything successful be taxed just for existing? The government certainly has no jurisdiction over the finances of the church, no matter which denomination or congregation. The same people who call for ever-increasing taxes might be the same that constantly complain of a lack of separation of church and state, on the grounds that they don’t want to be imposed upon by the church. Apparently imposing on the church is acceptable.

Churches vary significantly in their beliefs, liturgy and involvement in the community, but generally church members voluntarily contribute money as they wish to the local church affiliation of their choosing because that is where they want their money to go. Churches do help a lot of people outside the church, both domestically and internationally, but the church is not required to meet some sort of entitlement quota. That group of individuals can direct their money to whatever cause they choose and do so as a voluntary benefit to the community at various scales.

One condition for maintaining a tax exempt status is that the church must not forward a political agenda. Charitable organizations (religious or not) are said to provide a benefit to society and serve public purposes. If these organizations are taxed, they would not be able to provide those benefits and services due to the excessive financial burden. Government taxation itself can provide similar benefits and services, and does compete directly with charitable organizations. This can lead to churches falling behind in competition to provide services because voluntary contribution surely goes down as taxation goes up. With a tax, the government would be hitting the church on two sides.

Individuals financially support each other every day, in one way or another. And whether we choose to or not. Taxation is a transfer in the method by which benefits are provided to those in need. Whereas an individual might wish to choose to support a certain mission organization that digs wells in Africa, he may instead decide that because he had to pay a certain amount of taxes this year, that hardship gives him little choice over where his money goes as he decides instead to send the African well money to pay his rent. The tax money goes to fund whatever Congress thinks is a worthy recipient (sometimes this individual agrees with Congress, but often he does not). The result is that we do not control the fruits of our own labor and may be unable to help a group that has a special meaning to us because our money is first going to a cause we personally find inappropriate.

In addition to the right of the individual to direct his finances towards the cause of his choice, another strong reason not to tax the church is that America has a separation of church and state. We do not have an official religion (i.e. government religion). A tax on the church prohibits the free exercise of religion. You cannot have separation and taxation. There is a tension between government regulation and free speech from the pulpit, as a church leader who gives certain political opinions could cause his church to lose their tax exempt status. This can be seen by some as a violation of First Amendment rights, but if the government should stay out of the church, then the church should stay out of the government.

“Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 22:21 (ESV).

Individuals should give charitably with a personal conscience rather than by forced taxation.