Soon after moving from Germany to the United States of America in spring 2002 I noticed a fundamental difference in the two otherwise very similar societies: Social responsibility provided by the government in Germany versus social responsibility provided by the individual here in the USA.
While German taxpayers, due to higher taxes incorporating a big portion of social contribution, tend to lean back and expect the government to take care of the ones in need, I experienced quite the opposite here in this country. Very soon I got exposed to the widely spread custom of individuals helping individuals, be it directly by providing labor or indirectly with donating money to the various charitable organizations.
A great part of all the people I got to know in New York are voluntarily taking on their share of social responsibility one way or the other. Be it by leaving the office early to help delivering warm meals to the homeless population in the city (Coalition for the Homeless), providing design to support communicating a cause close to one owns heart to a wider audience without charge (True Majority), or giving back to the community by tutoring high school seniors to help them getting into college (NYC Mentor Program), three of various different ways of taking on responsibility I encountered within a small circle of friends and collegues.
Not wanting to judge the efficiency of one system over the other, for sure contributing directly definitely provides more satisfaction than paying higher taxes!
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