Robert Meyer
February 27, 2007
Charity is not the government's duty
By Robert Meyer

A statement that appeared in a recent piece from a liberal columnist, underscores and epitomizes the theme of much of what he has written in past columns.

He stated...

"When I took my first class in political science in 1969, I was taught that the truest test of any government is how it cares for its poorest citizens. On this exam question and this budget, this administration receives a failing grade."

If he took his first course in political science in 1969, he was likely graduating from college at a time when George McGovern was the political darling on campus. A time when radical socialism was being embraced by young adults through a variety of ancillary causes and ideologies.

Since the government has no resources of its own, where does it get the resources for fulfilling the idealistic babysitting referenced in the quotation above? By taking from others, of course. This is what the 19th century French economist Frederic Bastiat referred to as "legalized plunder." The same thing in principle that would be considered theft if it was perpetrated by one private party against another. Naturally such pilfering is excused, and even applauded, under the moniker of "compassion."

I believe that it is the job of public charities, religious organizations and benevolent persons to help those in need. Man's duty to his fellow man is a question of conscience, not a duty owed to the state. Public "charity" which is obligatory destroys private charity which by necessity is voluntary.

If the government takes money from some to distribute to others, it is no longer charity; it becomes coercion, because it's not volitional. Greater travesty is caused by such confiscatory governmental policies than is ameliorated by the application of these same policies. The difference between "liberal" and "conservative" is often not always a function of principle (such as the need to help the poor), but often a fundamental disagreement in methods (using the state as a charity of first resort).

A government that offers give-away programs to its poorest citizens would seem unconcerned about the various reasons for poverty, rather than focusing on how people can avoid the spiraling generational cycle of perpetual indigence and dependence on tax-funded welfare programs.

Blank-check give-away programs seem based on the premise that poverty can merely be eradicated by throwing money and benefits at the problem. We must ask if there are underlying patterns that lead to dire financial straits, which can be averted by changes in behaviors. It has been suggested that much poverty can be eliminated by doing four basic things:

1) Finish high school

2) Get married before having children

3) Have no more children than can be adequately supported

4) Work full time

Secularists are constantly bemoaning lack of "separation of church and state," as it applies to public policy. But the doctrine of obligatory redistribution of wealth that the liberal columnist views as social justice, turns out to be a classic greatest example of rendering unto Caesar what is not Caesar's; thus, in effect, deifies the state. That, in a nutshell, is the religious dogma of "progressives." Their measure of morality is not personal conduct, but deference and sponsorship of the "correct" social positions.

An attitude of entitlement has a huge blindspot; it tolerates the perpetual condemnation of greed while condoning and encouraging the masses to covet those individuals who are better off financially. A utopia of discontentment seems to be the design. The result is a movement toward "equally" that pulls the top down, bringing a morbid sense of satisfaction to the materially challenged, yet never really solves any problems at their root cause.

But even if we apply the writer's desired standard to the issue of government assisting the poor, we must ask which countries do a better job than the U.S.? What about Russia, China and communist nations? Or perhaps we will cite the socialist states of old Europe, many of which have high rates of unemployment resulting from their collectivist philosophies.

Our poor in America are well off relative to the poverty in other nations.

Government policies should create a tide to lift all sea-worthy boats, not kill the gooses laying the golden eggs to provide a beggar's banquet for a day.

© Robert Meyer

 

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(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Robert Meyer

Robert Meyer is a hardy soul who hails from the Cheesehead country of the upper midwest... (more)

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