How about this for a nightmare? I’m standing at a free throw line, basketball in hand, 15 miserable feet away from a 10-foot-high hoop. It’s my turn to make a free throw. In typical dream fashion, I’m standing there in a suit and tie for some reason – and the pressure is on: if I make the shot, $5,000 dollars will go to cancer research. To make matters worse, I’m attempting the shot in front of 800+ people – all of whom have their eyes fixed only on me, and all of whom know the charitable stakes of my shot. Oh, and to ensure nothing but complete stress, NBA titan and cancer survivor Kareen Abdul Jabbar is standing right next to me offering pointers as he watches me prep for the shot.

Sweat much?!

The makings of my nightmare came true for about a dozen brave souls last weekend at the 10th Annual Coaches vs. Cancer Wisconsin Gala hosted by the American Cancer Society. (Thankfully, I was not among them.) Incredibly, some of the free throw shooters actually seemed to enjoy the opportunity to take a shot! Check out this video I took of a guy sinking it for five grand like it was no big deal:

What seems like a nightmare to me was a dream come true for some of those free throw shooters. Such is the nature of liberty I suppose! 🙂

One thing that particularly grabbed my attention during the contest comes at the very end of the video. As soon as the guy makes his shot, the crowd goes nuts! Such was a common theme throughout the evening: every time somebody parted ways with their money – whether it was by shooting free throws, participating in the silent auction, bidding in the live auction, or making a donation ranging from $100 to $25,000 – everybody in the crowd would cheer. We were all legitimately excited about money leaving our bank accounts to support the American Cancer Society.

In total, the gala event raised $442,801 dollars (after expenses)! And again, everybody cheered when the total amount was announced!

And we cheered for good reason. Cancer sucks. My family and friends have been affected by it, and yours probably have been too. Having the opportunity to support an organization that leads the charge against cancer is exciting – so of course we cheered about the funds raised that night.

But you know what? That gala event was actually the second time we gala attendees recently funded cancer research. After all, our federal income taxes were due by April 18th – and a portion of our tax dollars went to fund the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the “federal government’s principal agency for cancer research and training.” The NCI organizes and manages the National Cancer Program which “conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and the families of cancer patients.”

There is zero argument: the National Cancer Program is a wholly worthwhile cause.

Yet despite the program’s worthiness – and unlike the gala event – I don’t recall hearing cheers from my fellow taxpayers while visiting my accountant’s office last month. Mind you, I filed my taxes like three whole weeks ago – so maybe my memory about others’ reactions to funding the federal government is a little fuzzy – but I can say with certainty that I wasn’t at all excited to review all the money I sent to the IRS in 2016.

All of this got me thinking. The methods by which We the People choose to collectively fund worthy causes like cancer research matter – and, in my humble opinion, government is the wrong choice. Here’s why.

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