This is a pretty illuminating article from Forbes magazine.
Here’s the question:
The budget debates have been illuminating. Apparently, those heartless tea partiers would gladly allow children to starve so millionaires can pay less in the way of taxes. The latter has been a recurring slander leveled against welfare reform in the ’90s and more recently in response to Paul Ryan’s budget proposal.
No one starved then. What if Washington stopped doling out relief now?
Wow. Are conservatives really so heartless? Is government spending really necessary to keep people from starving?
People who oppose government redistribution contribute four times as much charity as those who favor such schemes. This includes 3.5 times as much to secular charities. Those who prefer free markets also give more blood, are more likely to provide directions, to return change given mistakenly or offer assistance to the homeless.
To truly be charity, alms must be given freely, require nothing in remuneration and offer the donor no material benefit. If possible, benevolence should be anonymous. The left hand ought to not even know what the right hand does.
Instead, the Left hand blares a trumpet about compassion while spending others’ money as it shamelessly smears the Right. Who is really heartless: those seeking fiscal responsibility or those spending our children into peonage?
That’s true – all of this government spending certainly isn’t good for our children. Why do we call it compassion when we impoverish the next generation so that we can spend ourselves into a higher standard of living with their future earnings?
But maybe the poor today really do need the money. Maybe charity isn’t enough and we need to government to take our money to help the poor?
The real vacuum is federal spending. Washington filters our taxes through a bureaucratic black-hole before spewing out waste and vote-buying patronage. Public charity is an oxymoron. There is nothing moral in confiscating property from one to bestow on another.
As discussed previously, society does not revolve around Washington. The building blocks for an ordered, coherent community are families, friends and neighbors and then church (or equivalent). Only if each fails does government have any justification to execute its own counterfeit charity.
[…]Historically, when private parties provided most benevolence, it was generally administered more prudently than politicians redistributing other’s largesse. Thomas Jefferson bragged that you could travel the entire eastern seaboard and never encounter an American begging. Private charity was readily available and distributed responsibly so as to not create additional social burdens.
Relief was never meant for people who could help themselves, but don’t. Instead of easy handouts, people who neglect their duties could be taught responsibility and the dignity of work. Sensible charity offers a minimal safety net to prevent starvation or exposure, not provide idle comfort.
Poverty once suggested that someone lacked food, clothing or shelter. As the Heritage Foundation observed,
According to the government’s own surveys, the typical “poor” American has cable or satellite TV, two color TV’s, a DVD player or VCR. He has air conditioning, a car, a microwave, a refrigerator, a stove, and a clothes washer and dryer. He is able to obtain medical care when needed. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry, and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family’s essential needs.
Not exactly dire circumstances. The average menial laborer today enjoys more material abundance than a prince or tribal chieftain of recent past.
Please click through and read the rest of this article. There is a lot more I’m not quoting.
I think conservatives need to start thinking about this question. We are always being accused of being stingy, because we want to keep our own money, and maybe give it away in charity, while holding the recipients accountable to pull their own weight. Is that so wrong? I give a lot more money in charity than Joe Biden, and I make a lot less. Maybe leftists think that everyone is as greedy as they are. Maybe they think that people shouldn’t be held accountable for making the kinds of simple decisions that cause poverty.