Paul Jacob
The world didn’t end on Friday.

What concluded was the ancient Mayan calendar. Oh, the Mayans didn’t predict that to be the end of the world. They had planned to celebrate — only their civilization collapsed long in advance. All the world-ending catastrophe stuff was created and hyped because some modern-day non-Mayans wanted to make a buck selling a pretend story of death and destruction.

Just for fun, to get the blood flowing.

They no doubt found a large, thankful audience eager to be scared. To a point, since, so far, the world is undefeated in contests against world-ending catastrophes.

We have it so good we have to make up things to frighten ourselves. Those adept at this art sell a lot of tickets, and get rich.

But it’s one thing to make too much of a calendar; it’s another to actually set the End-of-Times ball rolling yourself.

The Mayan “apocalypse” was scheduled for the pre-Christmas shopping rush. The Washington “fiscal cliff” is scheduled for the New Year.

Insiders in the nation’s capital still pretend to be warding off the one-two whammy that constitute this so-called cliff: Scheduled tax hikes and scheduled spending cuts. Even as they tell us that the solution to our problem is a combination of tax increases and cuts in spending. Just not the terrible tax hikes and cost-cutting that they soberly voted to impose right when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve . . . and most of them will have gotten themselves toasted.

But I’m not afraid of the big, bad cliff. In my Common Sense e-letter, I urge mass swan dives into the cold water below. It’s not that I want my taxes to go up; I don’t. But I’m tired of being held hostage.

Taxes shouldn’t go up because government isn’t the best use of any expendable dollars we have. Who among us would voluntarily give anything extra to government, other than what is taken by force, even as we gladly make other charitable contributions?

Why not?

Because, simply, when we want to help, say do more for education, we can get much better return on our investment by writing a check to a private foundation or directly to a local school, public or private, than by sending our check to the Department of Education in Washington.

Billions are donated each year to charity; close to zero is given to the federal government. There is a reason.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.