The American (after tax) generosity machine.

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Earlier this week on Tuesday morning, the top folks at Trinity Mother Frances Health System in Tyler hosted a breakfast for the purpose of making a big announcement. Mr. & Mrs. Louis Owen have made a cash gift to Trinity Mother Frances of $18 million for the purpose of building a seven-story, free-standing heart hospital that will be named in their honor.

As I sat there listening to the presentation and looking at the artist’s renderings of the facility, slated for completion in 2012, I couldn’t help thinking that people like Louis and Peaches Owen are among the very people that President Obama believes are not paying their “fair share” of the tax burden. Never mind that if you have reached the place in life that you can give away $18 million, you have already paid more in taxes than the average American family will make in multiple lifetimes.

Louis Owen is a rather soft-spoken man and I couldn’t help getting the impression Tuesday morning that he was rather embarrassed by it all. In his brief remarks, he told us how he and a group of 15 or 20 people had started Petrofac in Tyler in 1981. That company grew to over 11,000 employees worldwide and those that were there to get it off the ground profited handsomely. In other words, Louis Owen is an American success story.

And for that reason alone he is among those upon whose backs Obama and his fellow travelers on the left have painted an enormous bullseye.

It is a uniquely American virtue that upon coming into substantial wealth, one of the first things that happens is that he or she who made the money will start looking for ways to give it away. There are no Carnegie Halls in Europe, no M.D. Anderson Cancer Centers, no Vanderbilt Universities. Traipse the length and breadth of Asia and you will never find an analogue to Dallas’s Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center or New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

American generosity stands alone in the world. After paying the lion’s share of the tax burden of the largest economy on Earth, the typical successful American will then take a substantial portion of what’s left and look for ways to voluntarily give it away for the common good.

While I’m certain that there are generous Germans and philanthropic Japanese and even magnanimous Frenchmen, generosity on an industrial scale is a purely American phenomenon.

It happens nowhere else on Earth.

So here’s the question for today. Does anyone seriously believe that if the federal government had taken the Owen’s $18 million in the form of additional taxes, had filtered that money through the massive, inefficient and unaccountable federal bureaucracy before transferring it to some unnamed, uncountable and unknowable recipients, that more good would have come of it than the creation of a state-of-the-art hospital in a growing community dedicated to healing human hearts?

Does anyone believe that the federal government can do more good with $18 million in money confiscated from successful Americans than Louis and Peaches Owen are doing out of their own free will and generosity?

Does anyone believe that?

Anyone?

Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of Gleiser Communications, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The Team FM & KYZS in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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6 Responses

  1. Linda E. Montrose says:

    The federal government has never been successful in any program it has had it’s sticky fingers in! The only successes in life are for the ones who WORK for it. No one in the obama administration has ever had a real job or been responsible for a payroll, therefore, they know absolutely nothing about what creats JOBS! AND they know NOTHING about generosity. The American people are the most generous in the WORLD…who do people turn to during a crisis? Americans have never been stingy in giving aid or helping those in need. Why? Because we have been blessed with a FREE society where we are limited only by our imaginations…up until now. We are so generous because we are able to be. But under this administration, all that may be coming to an end.

  2. E. Josephs says:

    The Owens are wonderful people They have given of not only their money but their time to a variety of charitable causes.

  3. Bo Jangles says:

    Linda, I’d say the American military is a very successful program.

  4. Seth says:

    Because the federal government does not make or produce anything its hard to believe that they could do any good with the 18 million.

  5. Danny Malone says:

    Paul,

    Well said this morning. I was just discussing your comments at lunch today, and agree you pretty well hit the nail on the head. What saddens me are the gross amounts of money spent by the wealthy on the liberal left to support the Politics and Agenda of the liberal left, rather than using those funds for projects that benefit the communities and constituents they claim to serve. I wonder why they wouldn’t just put those dollars back to work to address the needs, through outstanding charity and community based volunteer organizations, to serve the needs of those less fortunate, where generally 90% of the funds go directly to support the programs of such organizations.

    I was at the luncheon celebrating the 37th Anniversary this year of the Meals on Wheels Ministries of East Texas on Wednesday. Due to budget shortfalls, they have about $500,000 in State and Federal Aid that will be cut out from funding that we need to raise locally to continue to serve over 3,300 meals every day to our community. This represents but a fraction of the funds used in a single hour of prime time television to purchase advertising for whatever political mud fight is occurring today. I wonder how far this country could go if just half of the money spent on waging the war on politics in a single election cycle could instead be put back into local community charities and service works in reducing the dependence of folks from needing government handouts.

  6. L Miles says:

    Paul, if the Constitution means anything, it clearly states that private property is part of our unalienable rights and is not subject to government confiscation (partial or otherwise), no matter how laudable the cause. Unfortunately, the Socialists that permeate all levels of our government and institutions of higher education don’t believe in the Constitution or the idea of private property, or unalienable rights, for that matter. If they could have their way, all property, wages, savings and retirement accounts, etc., would be subject to confiscation if the government needed it to “save society” should it be necessary. They would love to eliminate the possibility of wealth accumulation of people like Mr. & Mrs. Louis Owen in order to give the government the sole right to build hospitals to further their control on the general population by way of government provided “benefits”. They cannot tolerate philanthropy by individuals because it competes with government largess designed to collect votes and expand federal power.

    You have to understand that the modern day Socialists REALLY believe that the Federal Government is our “god of first and last resort”. This blind faith in the supremacy of almighty government cannot be penetrated by ANY form of logic or historical facts to the contrary. It is the “religion” of those that have been seduced by their own superiority complex and their exclusive association with the self proclaimed elite that are filled with narcissism and purport to “know best” how to rule the world. These people have to be defeated. They are incapable of learning or reformation.

    Market forces driven by the “law of large numbers” states that millions of consumers making decisions to buy products made by thousands of producers in competition with one another have the best chance of providing the population with the highest standard of living at the lowest possible cost. Quality products at lower cost drive out the weak contenders over the long haul. NO GOVERNMENT MONOPOLY that supplants any part of the free enterprise system can begin to approach the efficiency or quality that the free market system can provide.

    Until recently, America was known as the OPPORTUNITY society in which FREEDOM to achieve was encouraged and not punished by some demented form of SOCIAL JUSTICE in which equality of outcome was more important than equality of opportunity. As long as more and more of the population is sold the Utopian LIE of SOCIAL JUSTICE as a substitute for INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY by the “snake oil” salesmen that masquerade as legitimate politicians who pretend to be “looking out for us”, we will continue to sink into the abyss of a “third world” society where the peasants are ruled by the autocracy. We are coming perilously close to the magic number where half of the population is a net recipient of government largess as provided by the other half of the population by force of progressive taxation.

    I have no doubt that the BIG GOVERNMENT defenders would salivate at the prospect of capturing the $18 million from Mr. & Mrs. Louis Owen, if possible, in order to implement their favorite projects rather than to let the Owen family use their own judgment for charitable purposes. In fact, if Socialized Medicine is slowly forced on our society over the next 10 years by a dictatorial government, then, this beautiful facility will also succumb to the mediocrity in medicine as experienced by most of Western Europe. We simply cannot afford to let that happen. The other side never gives up! Let us insist that our government representatives get a backbone, be loyal to the Constitution, and set about to forcefully reverse the creeping Socialism that has infected our society and pushed us ever closer to bankruptcy. The example set by the Owen family deserves our praise, not our scorn.

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