Recent reports rank Maryland as the fifth-highest state in per capita income and the forty-third in personal giving. This is shocking.

I am on the board of directors of a nonprofit organization in Montgomery County that provides health care services for more than 300 people. My organization has an annual budget of $6 million, but less than half of one percent of that comes from personal donations.

Most of our revenue comes from county and state grants and fees for services. However, this funding comes at the whim of the local government and the state legislature. Every year our organization must contend with proposed bills that may reduce our funding.

As a society we have chosen to get away from having the government help the needy in our communities. Instead, those who slash funding for these people claim that the private sector will help pick up the slack. Yet in Maryland -- a state that is considered liberal, a state that votes for Democrats religiously -- we find ourselves giving less and complaining more.

We don't want homeless people and beggars on our streets. We don't want burglaries and shootings in our neighborhoods. But we don't want to pay more taxes either.

I do not mention the name of the organization with which I am involved because I'm not asking for donations. I'm asking people to care and get involved by donating skills and time to a charitable organization of their choice and, when they deem it appropriate, to donate money. Most of the organizations I know are not always looking for money. They would be happy if people got involved. But when people do not get involved, these organizations need money to pay people to do the work that could be done by volunteers.

The next time a politician peddles the idea of lower taxes, ask yourself if we have gotten rid of homelessness and beggars. The next time a politician says we should be able to spend our own money in a way that we want, ask if your community, your neighborhood and your schools are as safe as you would like.

Taking care of people and communities costs money. We have a high standard of living, and we have high incomes, yet we don't want to pay what it costs for that standard.

If we gut governmental support systems for the less fortunate in our society, the slack must be picked up somewhere, some way, somehow. It is easy to blame the government for our woes. But we are that government, and the woes are, in fact, ours.

-- Brett Reilly