Wednesday, January 9, 2008

When it comes to taxes, some faces are more "real" than others

London Free Press columnist Ian Gillespie asks "How do you turn down that one?" about a $50,000 grant request to the City during budget hearings from a charitable institute facing a shortfall in its funding campaign to expand its horse-riding program for disabled youngsters.

It was hard not to be moved by the video screened at city hall yesterday, with its images of disabled youngsters exulting over their accomplishments atop their four-legged friends.
Emotional pleas for worthwhile causes are always difficult to reject at the scale of personal resources of time and money. But, as Gillespie demonstrates, there's nothing simpler in the world than accepting them at the collective scale of other people's resources. And by constantly acceding to them year after year, City Council has taught local community groups to be dependent on that fact, and on the tax-funded grants that accrue from it.

In answer to Gillespie's question, then, it is only politically difficult for council to respond: "Sorry, but it is neither our money to distribute, nor within our role or jurisdiction as promised to the people whose money is entrusted to us." Of course, the fact that the particular institute cited in his article is located outside the city's boundaries really ought to be the clincher anyway.