Ask the Readers: Would You Donate to the Government?

By Ashley Jacobs on 23 August 2011 (Updated 30 August 2011) 115 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Christie, John Mc, and Elizabeth S. for winning this week's contest!

The United States is currently over $14 trillion dollars in debt. After the recent debt-ceiling crisis, almost everyone became painfully aware of how in trouble the United States is financially. But is the severity of the situation enough to cause Americans to pull together to try to alleviate the debt issue by donating to the Bureau of Public Debt?

Would you donate to the government?  Do you think that people should donate to help the United States reduce it's debt? Why or why not?

Tell us if you would donate to the government and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, August 29th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after August 29th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Note: Due to recent changes in Facebook's promotions guidelines, we have restructured the entry format of our giveaways.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Carson M.

Only if it was tax-deductible :)

Guest's picture

No way! They already used our tax dollars to get where they are. If we begin donating to them, they'll just have that much more authority to spend money that is not theirs.

Guest's picture
eidson

Only way I would donate to the government debt is if they started making serious spending cuts that would be permanent. Until they change the way they practice government, they should not expect any extra help from the American public.

Guest's picture
Guest

No more than I would donate good Scotch to an alcoholic. I'll savor it and make it last; he'll just guzzle it and look for more. Washington - Republicans and Democrats - is drunk on spending. Besides, why donate? They just confiscate what they want.

Guest's picture
Caroline

Absolutely not! It is due to the government's reckless overspending that has gotten us so deeply into debt in the first place. If they are serious about reducing the debt, then they need to start drastically cutting government spending. We already pay enough in taxes.

Guest's picture
Christie

No, no, a thousand times no. How ridiculous is it that we would NEVER support a charity or organization that overspends its income by factors of 10 and spends like there will never come a time when all this money will have to be paid back, and yet wants more and wants us to GIVE it to them willingly!! Get your financial house in order, US Govt. You expect me to do so, I expect the same from you. I don't like the bill you are setting up for my kids and my possible grandkids. Dave Ramsey put it this way: "If the US Government was a family, they would be making $58,000 a year, they spend $75,000 a year, & are $327,000 in credit card debt. They are currently proposing BIG spending cuts to reduce their spending to $72,000 a year. These are the actual proportions of the federal budget & debt, reduced to a level that we can understand." Can you say, "scary"? That's the reality staring us in the face, folks.

Guest's picture
Raina

Yeah right. Our country is in debt because of the irresponsibility of millionaires and politicians getting rich off lobbyists. I'm not about to contribute more than my share of taxes to see it go into the pockets of welfare queens, illegal aliens, politicians, and corporate bigwigs.

Guest's picture
Monterey

"irresponsibility of millionaires"? Really? It's time to get your news from somewhere other than moveon.org. Really.

Guest's picture
Rachel

Nope.

I'd be happy to coupon for the government, though. :-)

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

20% off school supplies at Target and Hobby Lobby would really hit the spot.

Guest's picture
Candice

I think of it like this: If I donate to a non-profit, I check first to make sure my money won't be mismanaged. With just that criteria in mind, no, I would not give them my money by choice. If you had a relative that wasted everything they were given and still wanted more, would you give it?

However, I do already "donate" 30% of my income to the government due to compulsion. I do wish the money was more wisely used. Then maybe we wouldn't be in this situation.

Guest's picture
JBB

It's difficult to answer. I find myself comparing it to handing money to the homeless -- the big concern there is you aren't sure how they'll spend the money. They could use it practically, or they could go hit the liquor store (which some argue is still practical, but I won't get into that).

If everyone in the country gave $20 to the gov't, what would they do with it? Would they reduce the debt with it? Or would they just up and spend it?

Could it be firmly earmarked for the debt? Then sure, I'd be willing to donate $20. But otherwise, giving money to a person, company, or government that's already demonstrated it can't manage its finances seems more like enabling than helping.

So where can I send my $20?

Guest's picture
JBB

In fact I've gone that step further and donated $20.00.

Guest's picture
Nicholas

Donate to the government... seriously? I would never donate to anyone that spends money so frivolously. If I am forced to track my spending and only purchase items that I really need and not what I want, then the government should learn to do the same.

Guest's picture
Shevonne

No, I don't think that I would because does it really benefit me? This country is only for the rich and poor. The middle class, which includes me, always gets the short end of the stick. I'd rather keep my money rolled up underneath my bed (if it came to that).

Guest's picture
Kevin L

I wouldn't donate to any entity that owned 650 million acres of land (30% of the country) and refused to sell any of it for purely political reasons. If they sell off large chunks of land to individuals, groups, or companies, sell off some highways or sell toll rights, and still have money troubles, then maybe I'd consider sending in some money or simply not asking for a tax return.

Guest's picture
Guest

My husband is a police officer in a major city and has had 3 paycuts (in different forms) within the last year and will lose another 3% in Oct. We just take it as part of the current economic times. Having said that, I think the federal government should cut their budget more stringently even if it affects MY bottom line. However, I would not voluntarily donate money because I don't think they would handle it any wiser than the money they already have access to.

Guest's picture
Bill

I already do, I pay almost 70% of my income to various state, federal and local taxes.

And they want more? I think, at this point, I can spend my money much more wisely than any politician.

Aren't I allowed to do that?

Guest's picture
Jimmy

No... that is my understanding of the purpose of taxes. The current situation has changed how I will evaluate my decision in voting for elected officials however. We need people in office who understand what needs to be done - hard choices, but necessary for financial stability.

Guest's picture
Michelle

No I would not donate. I feel like I am donating enough as it is with all of the taxes that I already pay. I pay a high property tax, high sales tax (9.5%), income tax (25%) and so on and so on.

Just thinking about taxes gets me into a never-ending argument. I pay all of these taxes for schools, libraries, kids, welfare, and so on and yet I will most likely never see a return on any of this.

My friends who have kids gets thousands of dollars back every year, but why? Why should I fund their kids to go to school while they can just sit back and collect welfare and get tax credits/deductions?

The system needs to be fixed and the government needs to budget better and stop with the handouts.

Guest's picture
Monica

Absolutely not. First of all, I don't have the money to, secondly, the government doesn't spend the money they do take from me wisely enough. Why should I give money to an organization who throws money away to various earmarks that don't need funding from us? If I had the money and I could see exactly where it was going to (i.e. debt reduction) then I might consider a donation.

Guest's picture
Monica

I liked you on Facebook

Guest's picture
Sally

I won't give the government a dime more than absolutely demanded of me until the government begins to spend more responsibly than it has in recent years. Does sand down a rat hole come to mind?

Guest's picture
Susan D.

Nope. If any program--government included--isn't responsible with its assets, donating MORE money to it won't help.
Besides, I suspect that we'll all be taxed more in the not too distant future.

Guest's picture
Guest

No way, they get enough of my money and can't even be trusted with that.

Guest's picture
Guest

I like you on Facebook.

Guest's picture
Guest

Would you give money to a sibling who's alcoholic? Or a compulsive gambler? So why would anyone want to give more money to a government when they've been irresponsible with what they already have?

Guest's picture
Jordan

NO!

Guest's picture
Susan

No, I don't think I would (EVER). But, I especially wouldn't donate anything right now. I wouldn't even consider donating to help pay off any national debt until there is a balanced budget in place with an amendment requiring a balanced budget.

Guest's picture
Elizabeth S.

I already "like" your page, but in reality I LOVE it :)

Guest's picture
Canyak

Absolutely not. The Federal government has a spending problem. The same as I wouldn't give alcohol to someone with a drinking problem, I won't give more money to a bunch of politicians with a spending problem. 60% of the Federal budget is spent on things that could be done at a more local level much more effectively, efficiently, and accountably.

Guest's picture
Elizabeth S.

I must say they would need to cut their spending as I had to with mine. I honestly believe that we should issue government backed bonds again, as we did many many years ago, we should have issued war bonds back in 2001.

Guest's picture
Joel

Not for any reason.

Guest's picture
Joel

Facebook page liked and commented.

Guest's picture

I would donate money to defunded programs targeted at women and children. Especially food programs and shelters. Work study programs, early education for at risk children. Basically any program that would empower women to be wage earners and provide for their families. :)

Guest's picture
Alex

I would not donate to the government. It doesn't spark any philanthropic feelings in me.

Guest's picture
Chris Z.

No reason to start now donating to the government. Besides I'm already unwillingly "donating" enough as it is. Time to get better accountants perhaps.

Guest's picture
chris

Isn't that what I'm doing on April 15th? It sure feels like it.

Guest's picture
Betty

No! We held up our end of the bargain.

Guest's picture
Katie

I consider myself as having already given my donation by getting entirely out of debt!

The Great Recovery starts with you: www.thegreatrecovery.com

Guest's picture
Betty

Responded on Twitter. http://twitter.com/#!/1bets1/status/106045071555702785

Guest's picture
Betty

Liked you and your post on Facebook

Guest's picture
Heather

No. There are too many areas of spending that are not necessary in the government budget that could easily be cut. I have worked in the government or as a contractor for the government...trust me when I say that I have witnessed useless and wasteful spending. Red tape needs to be snipped and a complete overhaul of rules, regulations, priorities need to be made. Every time the government has money to spend it does. As sad as it may be for the American people there has to come a point where the money flow stops for the government and everyone is forced to cut spending. Robbing Peter to pay paul is not a valid solution, neither is giving a spending addict an extra 20 to save for a rainy day!

Guest's picture
Guest

No--the government should do what we do; cut spending until the budget balances, and those responsible should pay off the debt out of their own pockets.

Guest's picture
Therese

No, because I think then they would just spend more.

Guest's picture
Kristin

I would wait until the government is truly committed to reducing the debt and the deficit. Until then, they'll just spend whatever I gave them like an irrisponsible teenager.

Guest's picture
Kristy OT

Nope. I'd rather donate to effective charities.

Guest's picture
KelR1

I already do by paying taxes. Beyond that? Absolutely not.

Guest's picture
Guest

There is no way that I would donate to the government. That would simply be enabling like giving an alcoholic a drink.

Guest's picture
Lisa

Uh...no! I'm not their mother! (And if I was, I would have cut off their allowance years ago!)

Guest's picture
Rachel

Umm, no. I already "donate" to the government by my taxes.

Guest's picture
Angie W

Hell to the No! They have so gotten us in this mess and they can dig themselves out of it!

Guest's picture
Carmen

No, I wouldn't contribute. To me, that's just like giving money to someone that has gotten themselves into financial difficulty. If you just give them money, it doesn't teach them to be responsible in the future.

Guest's picture
NL

If I were super-rich, I might make a news-worthy debt-payment donation that could increase investors' confidence. But since I'm not, I wouldn't. I wonder if Warren Buffet would donate; he's already written that he's willing to pay more taxes.

Liked your Facebook page.

Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

No! Only if they could learn to spend/budget money like many others do.

Guest's picture
ramblingirl

I might feel differently if the Federal Government would see fit to give me and my fellow DC residents some full voting representation in Congress, but nope. Honestly, though, I can't imagine being willing to donate money so that rich people don't have to pay more in taxes and Congress can keep building bridges to nowhere.

Guest's picture
Guest

My motto is "Put up or Shut up" I would happily Put Up 20 or 50 dollars to show that I am in support of all of us working as a team to make our country the great place it is - and in return I would appreciate it if the whiners would SHUT UP

So let me know where to send a check!

Guest's picture
Bjartur

This link tells you where you send the money: http://www.fms.treas.gov/faq/moretopics_gifts.html

Are you going to actually do it?

Guest's picture
Angie W

I liked you on Facebook

Guest's picture
Anne

Absolutely not! They take enough of our tax dollars and squander it. The government needs to learn to live within its means and the donation of money by the American people would only exacerbate the problem of overspending.

Guest's picture
NJJ

If anyone should donate to the government I think it should be celebrities since they have the millions to do so. I think acting, entrepreneurship, and having clothing lines etc IS hard work, but many celebrities already live more comfortably than most American. Many donate their money overseas, which is fine but I think the should also were citizens here at home too.

Guest's picture
Maria S

No, I already pay taxes!

Guest's picture
Terri

I would indeed donate to the government if I could be sure it would go to debt reduction. I think many people hate being this far in debt and would also contribute. The problem is there is no way ensure it would go to debt reduction.

Guest's picture
Dee Dee

No way, I pay far too much already.

Guest's picture
Katie

Yes! When the government cuts wasteful spending, eliminates tax cuts for the wealthy, and provides universal health care!

Guest's picture
Kandace

No. Why would I support an organization that has been so irresponsible?

Guest's picture
Kandace

like on facebook

Guest's picture
Kandace

Tweeted
http://twitter.com/#!/Mama2Goosie/status/106226186274877440

Guest's picture
Monterey

Donate if you want to, but at this house we don't need to "donate". We're sending so much money in every quarter it makes our head spin. The pols still waste it. When they say they need to raise taxes on someone, it isn't true. Doing what Warren Buffet says he wants would solve 2% of our national debt problem. It's like getting hit by a car and having bruises and scratches, plus internal bleeding, collapsed lung, several broken bones and a mangled arm and yelling "The problem is you haven't put bandaids on the cuts! That is the problem; wah hah....."

Get real, people. It's the spending, stupid.

Guest's picture
Jessica

I don't think giving the government more money to mismanage does anyone any good.
They should learn to budget like everyone should.

Guest's picture
Jessica

I liked you on facebook

Guest's picture
Jessica

Tweet

http://twitter.com/#!/frellathon/status/106290391229267969

Guest's picture
kirstina wittchen

No

Guest's picture
bonzaibb

My answer is no I am disgusted with the Governemnet. We are essentially becoming slaves tracked monitored, bodyscanned every where we go, taxed 40-60 % when you include city, utilitie, and transportation taxes.

They do not listen to us they answer to the Bankers, Big Pharma and Corp Giants.

If I were single with nothing to loose I would go on a tax strike.

Guest's picture
Loni

Um, no! As if it is not enough that they punish the middle class and make us tax poor to the point that every mother out there has to give in to the system and WORK so her family can have a second source of income.

Guest's picture
trieb

No, because I tend to prefer to donate my money to organizations that are directly helping causes I believe in. I tend to donate as far on the local level as I can so that there aren't as many barriers between the organization and the entity in need.

Guest's picture
Jess G.

I would donate more funds to local and state governments to bolster states' power and rights.

Guest's picture
Jan

No, that would be nonsense. The USA has a FIAT currency, so the can create dollars at will. We don't need to borrow. That's just a leftover of the olden days when the dollar was pegged to gold...

See http://pragcap.com/resources/understanding-modern-monetary-system

Guest's picture
Alicia C.

Not until they get their s*** straight. Spending $ on bureaucrats while cutting to programs isn't cool!

Guest's picture
Alicia C.

I like you on FB
alicia crenshaw

Guest's picture
CWill

No. I already donate to the government with every paycheck and they have squandered my money. I see no end to the spending. Until the government learns to make and stick to a budget just as I must, I won't trust them to do anything wise with additional money.

Guest's picture
Alicia C.

Tweeted:
http://twitter.com/#!/amccrenshaw/status/106382908415152128

Guest's picture
Guest

If I could be sure that 100% of my donation went to pay down the debt. I would do it.

Guest's picture
Mkibrick

As I would with all non-profits I would vet their ability to reduce waste and meet their chosen mission. I'm afraid I would find the government lacking in this and would rather donate my money to a more focused, efficient non-profit.

Guest's picture
Guest

I would not be willing to donate to the government at this point. Lawmakers need to learn to live within their means, like the rest of us. If the government (Congress & the White House) were to do some serious cutting of spending, I would reconsider.
Donating money to the government now would be like giving money to the neighbor down the street who has a million dollar home and 5 high dollar cars, but can't pay his electric bill. Stupid!

Guest's picture
gt0163c

I understand that the federal debt is a big and important issue and things need to be done to decrease it. But I don't think donations from citizens is the way to go about decreasing it. Better fiscal responsibility, spending cuts and possibly restructuring of taxes (which would, most likely, result in an increase in taxes for some individuals) seems like a much better way to solve the problem.
In the meantime, working for a company who is primarily a government contractor, I'm just hoping to make it through this mess and still have a job.

Guest's picture
Jennifer E

I already give a hefty portion of my salary to the government through taxes--they aren't getting any more from me! I will, however, give more to organizations like NPR and Planned Parenthood, that got shafted by the government and their funding stripped.

Guest's picture
Tatiana

Uhhh, don't people do this indirectly already with political donations?

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

It really depends on what kind of tote bag the government is giving out.

Guest's picture
Kristin

Not unless there is proof of responsibility.

Guest's picture
Megan

As a govt employee, I should say give...but in reality, between taxes and student loans, the govt takes half of my income anyways! I agree with the comment asking to earmark donations for alleviating national debt...but otherwise, I'm keeping my half.

Guest's picture
Rebecca R.

Nope--the rich Congress members need to raise taxes on their rich friends and rich large campaign donating corporations.

Guest's picture
Ernest S.

I know I am in the minority here, but if it meant a dollar or two per person to get us back on track, I would donate. I agree with a lot of the comments, but I really believe that the government is a reflection of us. Whether one agreed or not with the decisions of the past 11 years, we all bear the responsibility of our country's actions.

On the other hand, I wouldn't mind seeing the banks "bail out" our government.

Guest's picture
Ernest S.

"Liked" on Facebook!

Guest's picture
Zach

if the system we have does not work why keep it going with donations no I will let this fix it's self with restructuring

Guest's picture
BRB

If I had lots of extra money maybe, but they also need to clean up their act and cut all the stupid excesses that they have.

Guest's picture
Lynda

i would not donate to the government. they are already taking a lot from my paycheck!!

Guest's picture
Lynda

i like wisebread on facebook

Guest's picture
Lynda

tweeted http://twitter.com/#!/oshkoshbgosh123/status/106608750676283395

Guest's picture
Alana

Well let's put it this way, I would love to donate to the debt and not the government. I don't believe in rewarding grown men and women who act like children in big bodies. I certainly would if I had a couple million people doing so with me (so that it would actually make a dent) and definitely some kind of guarantee, in writing that said where it was going. Oh yeah, and promise to make insanely profitable corporations pay some taxes. If my demands are too much then I'll keep what little of my paycheck is not taxed.