I first woke up in my thinking about the appropriateness of government social programs when I read the account of Senator Davey Crockett’s change of heart about funding a widow.
More than that, itt makes me sick to my stomach when people blindly praise a politician for funding something noble. Anyone in suhc a position can dole out another’s money. When such is done this way, it is not charity simply because of a good result, it is criminal because of forcing involuntary means.
My poisiton is that the government should do what it can do best — protecting the means by which communities can take care of themselves. I do not believe social justice can be legislated, even if it were not in conflict with personal choice via freely willful acts or contributions to those in need.
My problems with the government taking over charity:
(1) We could agree that government can be an effective means for change due to its size and scope of powers. That is why totalitarian regimes get an awful lot done very quickly, late 20th Century China being a fine example. So not only does the government being ABLE to do great things not justify it’s powers, such powers are amorally granted, meaning what can be legislated for good by politicians today can be equally done for bad by otheres tomorrow.
But in reality, the larger the scale of endeavors, the more waste, and we have little to show for the vast programs that have been in place for generations.
(2) The problem is that “We” are not the government. The government is “of” and “by” us, but the decisions are made representatively and/or by majority, meaning those who do not wish to participate in some policy are out of luck if they are a minority opinion or choice.
This means that ANY public funds used toward special interests, however noble, are not theirs to give.
(3) When the government micromanages the public’s needs, it not only is inherently in conflict with individual and community empowerment and decision-making, but puts others in the role of deciding a community’s priorities and values, often from a half-continent away.
I’d say this is hypothetical, but we’ve been living this for generations.
I have also heard it argued that “private and/or religious charities, and the actions of charitable individuals, are both needed and good, but will never be enough.”
I respectfully disagree, not so much because communities can wishfully solve ALL their problems and don’t need assistance sometimes, but because larger scale solutions have not proven to make any fundamental change in the human condition — and arguably have perpetuated need by the very nature of such a system.
And the math isn’t there. Involving another entity such as government doesn’t somehow add to the amount of resources or decrease the amount of need. It’s just rearranging the resources, sometimes by force of law against those who often are already pulling their weight. No, it’s one more resource-sucking player in the game, making poverty a (lucrative and power-accumulating) political issue instead of a human one.
History shows us there has always been need, and there has always been charity. Government in its various forms HAS admittedly organized efforts that have relieved, at least temporarily, much suffering. But that does not make it the right tool for a free society. It does not increase the ability to help, it only controls it. Government programs, on the other hand, do not merely coordinate assistance to the needy, but have a CONTROL system that now permeates our culture.
I argue that the current system of political redistributive methods is actually the perpetuation of classism and resentment between the poor and the rich, as if they are different species. That’s the mythical “1%” versus the mythical “48%”. I’m just tired of the game and want it to stop. I don’t think this is so crazy.
Objection to Taxation is Objection to the Force of Law
My objection to taxation by force of law outside of highly limited powers (what I believe was the general intent of our Founding Fathers) is NOT that I or others would object to the (allegedly positive) ends of governmental actions. This isn’t heartless stinginess, and anyone who knows me knows that would certainly not describe me.
I do not object because I don’t want something good to happen. I object because other people have excessive power over my wallet to decide “what is best” so far beyond the scope of individual choice. And like I mentioned above, if I can be forced to accept what happens to be judged correctly as for the common good, I am also compelled to accept when this is not the case.
Constitutionally, I object to others making the decision of what is suitable for the public funds not explicitly for the GENERAL welfare (in it’s original meaning before the euphemism came into play under FDR). Unlike many people today, I do not see the government and it’s well of taxation (truly “we the people”) as a bottomless wallet that can and should fix everything. Besides, we’ve tried that long enough to know it doesn’t work.
More specifically, I object to having someone else having the power to decide what charities to fund and which to not fund. Yes, there can be fairly applied baseline standards, but the big earmarks are often special interest charities. It’s the husband voting for a particular cancer foundation run by his wife getting a huge “investment”, while some other institution gets none, yet serves the same population of taxpayers.
But I do NOT object to protecting the general welfare.
Medical research investments? It depends; I have mixed feelings. Large-scale disaster services (FEMA) or vaccination stockpiling? Not unreasonable. Local, community-run emergency services? No problem, as not being federal, the decision-making is local and therefore more pertinent and effective. And none of these examples are charities.
And this is the main problem — the FEDERAL government is taking money away from communities and then doling it back according to politics on Capitol Hill. It’s a shell game profitable mostly to special interests and voter bases using (what we forget is) their own money to influence them.
Is the problem our economic system?
It has been said that our economic system pays “just enough to keep the people alive to slave for their masters”. I actually agree with this statement, just not the context in which it is ordinarily used.
When people are free with little government, this game of oppressive survival hardly exists. The more centralized the power, however, the more true it is. This may seem ridiculous to those who believe money corrupts in the absence of government rather than its prevalence. The former may have been true at some times and places, but the latter is the truly ridiculous statement given our hugely corporatist existence here and now.
That is why I blame at least half the disparity equation on government social programs — it has created an environment by which people will pay and pay until only an elite will have the wealth and the rest (middle class) are battered down to where they can only get trickled scraps from above.
In other words, the theoretical end of Capitalism is the proven end of Socialism.
But the “ism” that describes best the bastardization of compassion through force is Statism, regardless of the economic or political system in play.