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No Forced Charity

December 9, 2008 - 12:00am
Nick Coons by Nick Coons

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Forced charity, also known more widely as welfare, does nothing to improve society but does plenty to harm it. We can look back to the beginning of the welfare state several decades ago and find that after hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars we are no better off. And what's often the proposed solution? More money.



Americans know that welfare causes dependency among its recipients, puts a heavy burden on those who do work, and is horribly mismanaged and inefficient.  In spite of these characteristics, most Americans are not prepared to scrap government welfare programs.  Why is this?

I believe that as horribly-run as government welfare is, which people are aware of at some level, the average person agrees that there ought to be some sort of safety net in order to prevent those truly in need from falling through the cracks.  On the concept of helping those in need, most (if not all) of us can agree.  Where most seem to be lost is in how this can best be accomplished.

We need to understand that there is no perfect system where everyone is taken care of.  To receive a government welfare check, you have to have an address, which automatically disqualifies the homeless, which are arguably many of the people that need the most help.  So the goal needs to be in implementing the system that allows for the greatest amount of success.  I suggest a system based on voluntary giving to charitable causes.

We can easily compare many countries that have greater freedoms (the United States, Japan, and most of western Europe) to countries with fewer freedoms (China, India, and much of eastern Europe during the Soviet era) and see a direct correlation.  More freedom creates more wealth and a more even distribution of it, a higher quality of living, and more generous giving.  This is no coincidence.  If we want lower levels of poverty, and higher levels of voluntary charity, then we want to maximize freedom in order to obtain that goal.

From a moral perspective, charity must be voluntary.  It's easy for someone to say that the poor must be taken care of, and then go to the voting booth to vote that others must foot the bill.  There is nothing virtuous about taking from one group of people to give to another.

At best, forced charity is unnecessary because the world has already seen that freedom begets prosperity and generosity.  At worst, forced charity is immoral and causes more damage to those it claims to help.



Related Content:

Government Efficiency - Richard Sutton
The Problem and Solution to Health Care - Page 4 - Nick Coons
Call Me Irresponsible: Birthrates, Families, and Culture - Kimberly Ruff


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