Thursday, January 20

On Entitlements and Christian Charity

There is a common meme on the left that the reason the right does not support their government sponsored charities is that the right is more concerned with amassing personal wealth and does not "care" for the poor. This is ironically an uncharitable misconception. When this misconception is addressed, we arrive at a more useful dialog, i.e., discussions of policy. I think it would be useful to arrive at a organized consistent formulation about how we should consider the relation between government, individual, and the virtue of charity. Following my start on inquiring into Just War, I'll begin with listing disconnected ideas on this topic before organizing them.
  • Objections from the right about Entitlements center on two primary concerns. First is the effectiveness of the programs, do they accomplish their ends? The second is the ethics of the programs, on what principles are they founded?
  • I've stated before, that charity when done via governmental authority distances individuals enough from the act that it does nothing to foster individual charity. When charity is provided for selected individuals by race or circumstance in our society that can engender resentment in those who are forced to provide said charity. Some may even oppose the charity they in which they are now forced to participate. Now, it has been pointed out, that some of the charity requested of our government is to "fix" injustices caused by that same government. Also, some charitable projects, disaster relief for example, are too large and too immediate for personal acts of charity to make a difference. So one must consider these points before taking (for example) an absolute position opposing government charity.
  • Governmental charitable acts while well meaning are very often inefficient, ill-managed, corrupt, and in fact counter productive. Diplomad lists today as one of his "Top Ten Wrong Ideas that People Around the World Still Believe", number 2
    Foreign Aid Helps Poor People. No. Foreign aid largely helps the High Priest Vulture Elite, airlines, restaurants, hotels, car-rental companies and other service industries that cater to the HPVE. Freedom, trade, capitalism and education help poor people. Plus it also matters that their culture teaches them a work ethic (see number 8 below). The old saw that "foreign aid is when the poor people of a rich country give money to the rich people of a poor country" has more than a kernel of truth. BTW, try to name any country that has been developed by foreign aid.
  • It seems that one of the problems with supporting entitlements, welfare, and material handouts is believing that they can rectify or fix cultural problems.
  • Considering incentives is a paramount issue when government intervention or entitlements are at issue. Considerations of the motivations and incentives that the aid in question will effect should be a primary consideration for anything but very short term aid.
  • It would be a better world if ... retirement benefits, cheap and plentiful medical care, affordable housing was assured for all. Some of these may be achievable. Some of these, like cheap and plentiful medical care are just legislation of a strong held wish. We can't send everyone to the moon, who might wish to go. We can't provide all the medical care available for everyone for the same reason. We can't afford it. Just because it would be nice if ... is true doesn't mean that government and taxation are either the best way to achieve your end, or even a good way. What you wish for may be a pipe dream (like IMHO medical care).
  • Efficiencies of government programs are always overstated. It is claimed SS suffers only a 3% overhead. IRS collections it is claimed have an astoundingly low cost overhead relative to business or NGO collections. However, neither of these agencies figure into their costs that the burden of the paperwork and collection is placed (by law) on the taxpayers and businesses from which they collect. The IRS is efficient, because they don't count as costs the blizzard of paperwork, time, and accounting required by individuals and businesses from whom they collect. If you factor that in, lo and behold, instead of the most efficient, the truth is nearer to least efficient.