Hats off to Toyota and Kiwanis!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hats off to Toyota and Kiwanis!

Which headline do you prefer: a headline from a federal government website, “Grants to Manufacturers of Certain Worsted Wool Fabrics 2013,” or a recent headline from a local newspaper, “Toyota issues more than $120,000 in grants for local agencies”? I like the latter better.

This question jumped out at me, probably because I had an opportunity this past week up in Princeton to speak to the local Kiwanis club, which also happened to coincide with Toyota’s recent grant announcement.

It had been a long time since I had been to a Princeton Kiwanis meeting. Old memories of serving as a Boy Scout at Kiwanis pancake breakfasts and listening to the Kiwanis radio auction on WRAY came flooding into my brain. I took the opportunity to look into what Kiwanis is up to these days. Fortunately, Kiwanis is still at it. Their website, www.circlek.org, provides the following:

“Kiwanians are volunteers changing the world through service to children and communities. Kiwanis members help shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, mentor the disadvantaged, and care for the sick. They develop youth as leaders, build playgrounds, raise funds for pediatric research, and much more. No problem is too big or too small.”

All of this brings me to why the question I posed above regarding headlines was racing around my head that morning. It seems to me that more and more we see our government attempting to solve every problem; but the flip-side is also there. We also see, more and more often, people demanding that it do so. This is a bit concerning to me for several reasons.

First of all, I think that a careful read of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution shows that our founders took great pains to try to limit the reach of our government. Article I, Sec. 8 sets forth limited, specific powers that the federal government was to have, and no more. Equally illustrative, the 10th Amendment provides that the States or the people have the authority not granted to the federal government under our Constitution. I think we have an obligation to stick with what was written until it is properly changed.

Our nation’s founders were pretty smart. They recognized early on that centralized government authority does not do all things well. I think that they probably also saw that when government steps in and acts, the tendency is for people to refrain from acting and that this has consequences.

One consequence of government stepping in on every matter is that people are actually deprived of the satisfaction that comes from personally giving/contributing to causes they believe in. Let’s face it; it is simply not the same feeling to read in the papers about some government grant to somebody and take pride that your taxes paid for it, as it is to write the check yourself and see the joy in someone’s eyes. We can’t ignore that the more we pay in taxes, the less we have to privately give.

We should also keep in mind that there will never be a lack of those serving in governments derived from popular elections who want to take one person’s money and give it to someone else. In short, it gets you votes. However, in the long run, no democratic government can survive if the majority of the people decide they can simply vote themselves funds from the federal treasury. It simply goes broke.

I am glad to see that Toyota, Kiwanis, and for that matter, our churches and most folks here in District 64, still understand the role of private giving. Yes, there is a valid role for government, but much in this country that is good was built by caring individuals who saw a need and did something about it. To them go the rewards of a life well-lived and the satisfaction of personally caring for your fellow man and your community. More power to them!


State Rep. Tom Washburne serves as Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He also serves on the Financial Institutions Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction. Rep. Washburne represents the entirety of Gibson County and portions of Knox, Pike, Vanderburgh and Posey counties.