@SoaG: Re: non sequitur
> what if, over a decade, all social programs were phased out, all tax rates were lowered proportional by the amount spent on them, and replaced with mandatory donations to charities of the taxpayer's choosing in the same portion of income.
Some years ago a friend was working at the Neo-Natal unit in a hospital when they were contacted by a group who wanted to do a fund raising event for the Special Care Baby Unit.
Their response? "Please don't!"
Why? Because the rules of charity giving state that the donations can only be used for the specified purpose and cannot be spent on anything else.
The SCBU had money coming out of its ears, they had all the specialist equipment they could use, meanwhile other (not-so-special) departments were desperate for funds, but were screwed because of these rules.
Or another example I've literally just seen on the news: someone set up a facebook page for a pensioner who was mugged and was too scared to go back home and it's raised over £250,000! That's great for him, but what about everyone else?
Now imagine that writ large across the whole sphere of social programmes. Some people may get lucky, some programmes may get massive support, but the ones that aren't newsworthy, that don't get big headlines, that don't tug on the heartstrings of the donors may not get funded at all.
*That* is why we have the system we do, it may not be perfect, but it's better than the alternative.