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The perfect example of this was the Oprah Winfrey show that aired this September. Oprah, whose show now airs in 109 countries around the world, celebrated her 19th season by giving away new cars to every person in her audience that day. The 276 audience members were selected because friends or family had written about their need for a new car. One couple had 400,000 miles on their two vehicles, and one mom wrote in that her son drove a car that looked like it had been in a gunfight. Oprah began by calling 11 people out of the audience onto the stage. She gave each of them a brand new Pontiac G6. Then she distributed a gift box to everyone in the audience, telling them that one of them contained the keys to a 12th new car. But when the audience opened the boxes, each one had a set of keys. Oprah jumped up and down and yelled: “Everybody gets a car Everybody gets a car Everybody gets a car ” There was pandemonium as everyone yelled and hugged each other. Then they went to the parking lot of Oprah’s Harpo Studios to see their cars, all decorated with giant red bows.


But not all is well in Oprah land. Now the people who received the new cars are complaining. Even though the local taxes and licensing fees were covered as a part of the gift, the IRS is going to take a sizable bite out of their pocket, because the $28,000, which is the value of the car, will be added to their income for this year. Their state income tax will also go up. And their car insurance will increase dramatically. Some of the winners thought that all this should have been taken into account and they should have been given the cash to cover these expenses as well. Richard Whately said it well when he wrote in the 1800’s: “It is generally true that all that is required to make men unmindful of what they owe God for any blessing is that they should receive that blessing often and regularly.”

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