Rebirth of Reason

Sense of Life

Tag Days: Bailouts for America's Youth
by Jake Moore

Times have certainly changed.  When my friends and I were kids, it seemed like we were continuously raising money for something: field trips, ball teams, dances—the list goes on and on, and we never shied away from working a concession stand, selling donated items in the gymnasium, washing cars, or any other work that could be done to raise money.

One thing we never did, however, was sit outside a grocery store begging for money like a bum in a city.  The other day some kids were seated comfortably in lawn chairs on the sidewalk in front of the convenience store in the town where I work—they could not even bother to stand—with donation buckets.  Amazing!  Whether the fundraiser was for school, a sports team, scouts, or any other cause, we and our parents, teachers, coaches, and leaders worked to generate funds.

When I was probably 13 or 14 years old I was passing through a river town in the Ohio Valley when I noticed some football players standing in the road with a bunch of tags on strings.  “What are they doing mom?”  I had never seen such a thing!  “It’s called tag day.  They just ask for money and give a tag to people to show they donated.”  Wow.  Kind of like an “I voted today” sticker—it doesn’t show where you stand or whether you actually made any sort of effort to better things, but it gives you something to be snooty about—a cheap way to give the impression you care. 

As we passed by the tag-happy kids without donating, I could see the looks on their faces: it was disbelief we hadn't stopped to donate.  Not only were they not doing anything to raise money in a legitimate, deserving way, they were actually willing to be angry at those who merely passed through.

Maybe I was just raised by an old-fashioned family.  Maybe I grew up in an old-fashioned community.  Maybe I attended an old-fashioned school.  Whatever the primary factors, I was always polite to those who browsed by my concession stand, or who turned me away empty-handed when I knocked on their door with an order form.  “Thank you anyway,” was always my reply.  “You know where I am if you need anything!” was usually soon to follow.  I would have been grounded or worse if I had treated someone poorly for not donating.  Not everyone wants a homemade chocolate chip cookie or a can of soda, and definitely not everyone wants to drop money in your can just because you are standing—or sitting—there.

The notion that we deserve to get money for nothing is a plague on our society today, from the eagerness to socialize healthcare to the dependence on government bailouts and from frivolous lawsuits based on injuries caused by stupidity to raising our children to believe that fundraising is a matter of begging!  The work ethic in America has suffered erosion on an epic scale in the last ten or fifteen years, and the best way to re-establish the mindset our nation was built upon is to instill it in our children.

Hard-earned fundraising dollars come with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that handouts will never cultivate, and the pride of success in childhood will translate into a desire for success in adulthood.  We play so much lip service to “building a future for our children” but we seem to be forgetting that the best way to ensure a strong future for our posterity is to teach them to build it themselves.

Jacob Hamilton Moore

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