Lance Armstrong said he set a one-day record during his bike ride with President Bush - not for cycling but for lobbying. During their two-hour ride on Bush's ranch Saturday, Armstrong pushed the president to spend more federal money on cancer research. "I've never asked someone for so much money before," the seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor told ABC's "This Week" for its Sunday broadcast.
Like many Americans, Lance Armstrong believes it is the job of the federal government to provide cures for cancer and other ailments. They believe that government is able to give "free handouts" and that those handouts can somehow be more effective and efficient than private donation. When we filter money through government bureaucracy we waste a fair percent of it in the costs to collect and allocate it. Direct contributions are a much less wasteful process. Curious as to how generous Americans are and how much they support cancer funding, I made a quick call to the American Cancer Society to find out just how much they receive in donations in a year. The latest data was from the fiscal year ending August 2003 and totaled $752 million. The amount is only for donations to the American Cancer Society, and as such does not include the amount spent by companies on developing their own cures or other monetary and non-monetary support for cancer patients.
There is a positive, causal correlation between higher income and more donations. Were taxes lower, there would be a greater inclination for those who are not currently contributing to do so. Any moral obligation they might feel to donate is quickly eliminated in knowing that "government is taking care of it for me," or, "I'm already 'donating' through taxes." Regardless, contributions of any kind should be voluntary and government's role is not as a charitable institution. As James Madison stated in a speech to the House of Representatives on January 10, 1794, "The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects ... Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government."