Thursday, November 10, 2005

Real Vs Phony Charity

Charity is my giving my resources to others of my own free will. My motivations are supposed to come from the idea that it is the right thing to do. It is the case that men --- sinful corrupt human men, more precisely --- often do charity for the love of men or so that the one doing charity can feel good about himself, placing God [somehow] into the "owe" column of the ledger.

This is a basic definition, but it is lost in today's political climate. It is lost in the mainline church. It is lost in the major political parties [and many of the third-party parties]. The loss of this basic definition entails a loss of freedom for all.

Here are phony examples of charity:

(1) A group of leftist college students or guilt-ridden middle class people demanding "universal health care" or "affordable [read: subsidized] housing for the poor" who lobby the government to

(a) tax people more [who may not want to be taxed more]
(b) regulate people more [who may prefer freedom to regulation]
(c) confiscate already-existing wealth of people [who might not agree with the arguments for universal health care]

in order to pay for the universal health care or the affordable housing. Upon doing this, the college students or the guilty middle-class people sit back and feel as if they are compassionate and more caring than those free-market types.

Spending the money and wealth of others on pet causes is not charity. It is socialism and aggression against both private property and the idea that a man keeps the fruits of his labors.

(2) Gay-rights activists or libertines demand something to the effect that "government provide or subsidize AIDS tests, free condoms, clean needles, etc." When we demand that "government subsidize or provide X," what we are in essence demanding is that the taxpayers and citzenry subsidize/provide X for the group demanding it.

Some facts: I don't force grown men to sodomize each other and penetrate the orifice from which solid waste comes. I don't force horny people --- both heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, trisexual, you name it! --- to have sex with whomever they want, whenever they want, health consequences be damned. I don't force people into situations where good judgement should rule over prudence. Scripture is quite clear about the status of such behavior, but on a secular level, people can do what they please on their private property provided it doesn't harm my person or property.

But this live-and-let-live mentality on the political level is not reciprocated by the promiscuous. Whereas I leave them alone and say that they're adults and can make their own decisions, their activists turn around and complain that this is not enough --- I must support or subsidize their behavior.

But I don't see the activists for these promiscuous groups going out and buying the needles, condoms, tests, etc, themselves. They spend the money and wealth of other people. They want bigger government --- a Nanny State --- to provide these things for them at the expense of others. Instead of asking people to freely contribute, they prefer State-sponsored force.

And, if perchance your local orgy is stocked with state-sponsored condoms, jellies, tests, medications, etc, that is because the government has taken the money by the threat of force and confiscation. But the activists, it is safe to say, will act as if they are fine humanitarians.

Spending the money and wealth of others on your pet causes is not charity. It is socialism and aggression against both private property and the idea that a man keeps the fruits of his labors.

(3) Academics, celebrities, and "the people who care" demand [especially in the wake of our nation's real estate boom] "more rational gasoline prices." The idea is for government to "do something about it" so that more people can afford gasoline prices. One sees members of the US Senate standing by a gas station villifying the gas stations, the refineries, the oil companies, and they threaten more regulation and oversight of the oil industry.

What happens when government tries to "do something about it," whatever the it happens to be? We have price controls, regulations, tariffs, restrictions, etc. These may or may not actually lower the price of gasoline at the pump. But, suppopse that they do.

What has happened? Answer: other people, be it other consumers, other industries, companies, those in trade, etc are negatively impacted in exchange for the lower gasoline prices.

Now it so happens that other consumers, industries, and companies often themselves try to use government to manipulate the market, so in one sense what goes around comes around.

However, here I'm talking about charity versus phony charity. Has anything actually been done that can be considered "charity" if one has merely re-parlayed the cost of gasoline onto the burdens of others? If the Chevron station around the corner from the PP Pad sells gas for $1.25 per gallon because other people [like me] are forced to subsidize the remaining cost, has charity really been performed?

If you're a Democrat, and, most likely, if you're a Republican, you'd probably answer in the affirmative.

We again state the following basic fact:

Spending the money and wealth of others on pet causes is not charity. It is socialism and aggression against both private property and the idea that a man keeps the fruits of his labors.

This next example is for my friend the Turkoman, whose blog has made it to "the show" whereas this blog is still in Rookie League or A-ball, at best:

(4) A celebrity takes it upon himself to end world hunger, or end hunger "for the children." This celebrity possibly donates some of his money and time to the cause. [Nothing wrong yet.]

The celebrity goes and asks world leaders to have their governments pony up the money for this cause. Certain leaders offer millions of dollars to this cause.

This is not charity. Again, money is being taken from those who produce it, and it is being sent abroad. This makes the leaders look compassionate. It gives "the international community" [whatever that is!] something nice to say about those countries who give. But it isn't "the government's money" that is being sent abroad. It is your money, my money, and the guy down the street's money. Perhaps some of us think that throwing money at kleptocracies, foreign aid, etc exacerbates the problem. But our money --- the fruits of our labors --- are being spent by the celebrity, the politicians, etc.

In the end, the celebrity is lauded as a fine humanitarian. The leaders, whatever be their electoral faults, are heralded as compassionate. But the people who really paid for the humanitarianism and compassion are anonymous, merely being the wallet or bankbook for others whose grand scheme of "how life should be" to tap whenever they see fit.

It isn't charity when you spend my money.

**************************

Although I consider Ayn Rand [based on what I've seen] an intellectual fraud relative to ethics and philosophy, she was, in my opinion, dead-on when assessing the final outcome of the creed "To each according to his need." John Galt's description of the auto company after having this creed adopted is where we're rapidly heading.

And whether we call it "socialism," "the welfare state," or, if we go by my favorite abuse of English, "compassionate conservatism," our nation, like most or all of the rest of the world, shall reap the bitter and poisonous harvest of socialism.

Similarly-themed link: Gary North's column at Lew Rockwell, and Ron Paul's latest Rockwell column.

Yes, this thread was somewhat boilerplate material, but, it is [in my opinion] worth saying regularly, since people seem to want to feel good about themselves by using other people and the possessions of other people to accomplish this goal. And, upon doing so, the former group want to be lauded, loved, and recognized as fine human beings, despite doing not much more than posturing.

3 Comments:

Blogger Progressive Christian said...

Right. Uh-huh. You rich rightwingers trample on Mother Earth and abuse her, and you willingly put billions of people into starvation and poverty. Whatever.

Friday, November 11, 2005 2:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Diane said...

Progressive,

What does that have to do with charity? Giving of your time or money is charity. Giving someone else's money is either stealing (if you took it without permission) or socialism.

Sunday, November 13, 2005 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

"Spending the money and wealth of others on pet causes is not charity. It is socialism and aggression against both private property and the idea that a man keeps the fruits of his labors."

There are two potential conceptual flaws with this statement. (I say "potential" because there are valid ways around these criticisms, though I don't see you doing them here).

The practical flaw is that governments exist to provide for the common good. One person's "pet cause" is another's "common good"; I can think of many serious public policy rationales for a single-payer healthcare system, for example. Meanwhile, in the political converse, one person's "common good" is another's "unwarranted military aggression," etc. We have a participatory form of politics, through which the political system settles upon what will be pursued as the common good. Advocacy is an inseparable part of representative government.

More serious (in my view) is the theological flaw: the idea that man has any rights that exist independent of a proper relationship with God. In other words, that man has any rights independent of obligations. It is worth remembering that whenever Jesus taught parables involving servants/slaves, the servants/slaves mean *us*. In the parable of the talents, for example, the servants *don't* keep the fruits of their labor: they turn it over to their Master, whose property it rightfully is. Strictly speaking, in this world we are stewards rather than owners; everything rightfully belongs to God. The proper question, then, is "What kind of stewards of resources does God expect us to be?" Given that both the Old and New Testaments are quite clear that both governmental and economic power are compatible with God's plan for human life, but that neither is valid unless joined with an overarching concern that those of us with more power use it to make sure that those with less power aren't left behind...well, you can see where this line of thought is going, no?

Sunday, November 13, 2005 5:32:00 PM  

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