Thursday, August 7, 2008

No Money for Charity

Donations are down, membership for volunteerism has dropped, and contributions to charities have dwindled. This has been a trend over the past several years. What has caused this great phenomenon?

It is ironic that those very charities designed to help people such as The Red Cross, soup kitchens, Salvation Army and others, are the ones that now need help. People who gave to charities in the past are financially strapped, and no longer can afford the “only 1% increases”; they need it for their own survival.
With the high cost of fuel, businesses closing up, education costs soaring, tuition's increasing, outsourcing, and manufacturing plants going the way of the dinosaur we don’t have an economy, what we have is an existence.

We have a few pharmaceuticals that may leave the state or scale back. That is about all we have left of any substance for jobs, once they start leaving we could be looking at bigger financial woes in the future.

Well, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out this one.

People are doing what they need to for survival. Cutting back on food, medical, driving less, going out to eat less, people are buying only necessities, not buying the frills.

School budgets are being defeated because there are many who simply no longer can afford any more tax increases.

Those that are fortunate enough to still have a job or a home, must now absorb the increases our governor wants to pass on. The infrastructure costs will bury us. Cutting funding to towns, raising tolls, paying for pension plans, education increases to students, closing hospitals, expecting those left to make up the differences for years of the states wastefulness.

We had an increase in the sales tax that was supposed to help the people of New Jersey and get us out of debt. That was only for one year (an election year gimmick), as I personally do not see a difference this year other than higher costs passed on to the taxpayers, with more increases to come.

Seniors having a hard time are downsizing, or moving back in with their kids.

When I was running for office, the Home News Editorial Board had asked me what I would do about making more affordable housing for seniors. My answer was that if we made it affordable for them to stay in their homes we would not need to worry about building more affordable housing for them. By staying in their existing home, it would be less expensive then to build additional housing for them to move.

As it is now, we are going to government finance those on the verge of losing their homes due to foreclosure. If we can find the money to do that, then why not include it to fund seniors on a fixed income, those who are able to pay their existing mortgages, just pay the municipalities a subsidy to help offset the tax increases passed on to seniors?

Foreclosures are up, home sales are down, and we keep hearing it is a buyers market. It is a buyers market if you are lucky enough to have a job to qualify to buy a foreclosure. Then there are those who may have the money, but are not going to spend it for fear the economy may get worse. I do not see foreclosures selling like hotcakes at this time. For that matter, hotcakes are not even selling that fast at the corner diner.

For those of us lucky enough to receive a salary increase, inflation has taken it before it even clears the bank. Utilities, insurance, fuel, groceries, medical have all gone up faster then you can spell “Rumpelstiltskin”.

Housing assessments went up, but now that the housing market is in a slump, assessments have not gone down. If they did go down, your property taxes would go up anyway as the town have to make up for the shortfalls without state aid.

Our long-term politicians say they are concerned, but they still vote themselves hefty increases even when the economy is souring. The compensation received by our representatives helps them keep well ahead of inflation.

Citizens continually make sacrifices in their lives to adjust, our government needs to make some serious decisions and make those same sacrifices. Government needs to be smarter, leaner, and meaner if it intends to benefit those it wants to help. How can we help others when we cannot solve our own problems?

By continuing to empty the wallets of our taxpayers with taxes upon taxes, higher tolls, higher medical costs, and chasing business away will not stimulate the economy.

We need to start offering incentives to business and business start-ups. Government needs to boost the economy and stop penalizing the very people who contribute. As long as that trend continues eventually there will not be anyone left to take from.

Over the years, passing law after law to hinder business, increasing state mandates, higher taxes, and higher premiums to finance state programs is now taking a toll. Unless the state makes it attractive for business to stay or return we can only expect more unemployment.

We have many local politicians leaving office because of “family commitment”. They just cannot dedicate the time needed, as their personal life is more important. When people must work a second job or concentrate more on their existing job, paying more out of pocket just to keep their head above the water line, there is less time to volunteer or commit to helping others.

Many towns have programs based on charity, contributions, donations, and volunteers.

There is an old saying to the effect that you cannot take care of someone else until you take care of yourself first.

Charity begins at home . . . but for many of our citizens they are either on the verge or no longer have a place to call home.

Joe Sinagra