I’ll use two examples of selflessness to show ways people have helped improve their society – defining the concept of, “Altruistic Democracy” that I envision for society as an approach to replace the standard conservative, liberal or moderate versions of democracy – ensuring that everyone is taken care of both today and well into the future. The first one is the best example of selfless concern for others that I have heard of in a long time. It is the story of a Canadian couple that realized that all they needed was each other – and gave away almost all of the $11.2 M lottery winnings that they won earlier this year:
The second example that I’d like to use here is how Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are encouraging the world’s billionaires to donate at least half of their wealth to charity – and have done the same themselves:
In order to ensure that everyone is taken care of in society and around the world, there needs to be a sense of teamwork between citizens and their governments – working together to take care of everyone in society. Although examples of selfless actions can often be found in the news from time to time, as long as there are homeless people and families living in shelters, cars, tents and on the streets – more can be done. As long as there are children and families that go hungry – more can be done. As long as there are refugee camps and disasters like the earthquake devastation that occurred in Haiti – one of the poorest nations in the world – more can be done. The difficult part of this concept is trying to convince people that thinking of others is the highest calling of our humanity, and worth the effort – even if it means that in the process of helping others – we can do with less.
It is important that we take care of ourselves and our immediate family, so no one else has to take on that responsibility; but after we have enough for ourselves, we can make a big impact in the lives of others if we just give a portion of what we have so that others can improve the quality of their lives too. I envision a teamwork approach that uses the incentive of income tax deductions for donations towards the support of others; assisting the government in the process of supporting all of our citizens to a level which allows everyone to follow their dreams and maximizes their potential. The number I used earlier as an example of a minimum level of support was $20,000 per year for an individual, or $80,000 a year for a family of four in the midwest region of America, indexed regionally based on the cost of living.
This doesn’t mean that people just sit around with their hands out waiting for others to support them; it means that if they are unable to support themselves to this minimum level, then the cumulative support that is provided to them by their family members and friends would count towards the total needed to reach this minimum level of support that is set by the government. If people do require government support, then there would still be a system that requires them to look for and apply for jobs – and an incentive for employers to hire them. Support provided to them by family and friends would be tax deductible as long as there are records of the bank transfers to account for their donations of support, which would then lower the gross income of the gift giver for tax purposes. The more you give towards the support for others, the less you would pay to the government in taxes; which helps society by reducing the amount of people the government needs to support.
For people who don’t have anyone who will contribute to their support – and there are many people like that in our world today – the government would make up the difference between what they are able to earn on their own and the minimum level set by the government. So for example, John Doe earns $12,000 a year, and one person contributes $1,000 in that year towards John’s support while another person contributes $4,000 in that same year towards John’s support. The government would make up the difference of $3,000 to help John reach the minimum level of support for an individual of $20,000. Since my concept would make gifts to other people the only tax deductions that were available to them, it would provide an incentive for people to give money away to others throughout the year – and help everyone in our society achieve their dreams.
In the end if modifying the tax code to provide maximum incentives for charitable gift giving helps people to change their hearts, then all the better. The survival instinct provides incentive enough to take care of ourselves and our families, ensuring that nothing happens to us; and it can be very difficult to part with our things and our money for the benefit of others. If we can somehow convince people that taking care of others is taking care of ourselves – because not only have you improved the lives of other people – you have improved the society in which we live; then we can build a society where helping one another is considered the norm, where complete strangers offer their support to meet another person’s needs, and no one has to wonder where their next meal will come from or how they can afford to put a roof over their heads. Perhaps the day will come when people change their hearts, and in doing so they will find they are changing the world…one heartbeat at a time. 🙂