Friday, January 28

Charity and the Institutions of Man (Part 1)

Just last week (here), I started ruminating about Charity and our human institutions, be they government, NGOs, or the church. In that essay, I managed to run off a half dozen bullet points considering ideas on those topics. Now in a previous series, on Just War, this (bullet point strategy) worked well only because I could fall back on Aquinas' masterful division of the question into Who, Why, and How. What is needed is a similar division of the questions arising with respect to formulating a theory of Charity, for the individual, and for civil and religious institutions. Following the analogy set for us by Aquinas, let us try dividing the problem similarly:
  • To Who do we give charity.
  • What sort of charity is good.
  • When should charity be offered.
  • From Whom should the charity come.

These questions have particular urgency in today's political climate, for Social Security and Medicare are sold as a part of the New Deal, being a re-distribution of wealth for charitable purposes. Social Security is being re-examined and re-visited under direction by our President, who desires reform. How should we advise him. How can we help structure the debate. As I structure my arguments on Charity, I'm going to attempt to divide my reasoning into a first secular argument and an argument for what we should do based on Scripture. For while I think the second is possibly more important, the arguments based on secular reasoning will find more traction with the more liberal audience.

So then the programme is now laid out. But, before we start in on our process it, just as in my Just War series of essays it will be useful to consider a series of test cases to test the results of our reasoning for validity. Considering causes for charity:
  • Survivors of the Boxer Day Tsunami
  • The Poor in America
  • The third world poor.
  • Homeless Panhandlers you might meet on the street.
  • An Accident on the expressway
  • the terminally insane
  • AIDS victims in Africa
  • Refugees of War and Diplomacy
  • the elderly in America
If any of you gentle readers have items to add to my "test" cases, drop a comment and I'll add it.