Fans of universal health care and big government in general see those of us who believe in limited government with local charity helping those in need, as cold, heartless barbarians. Some statists have difficulty with the distinction between charity and theft. Indeed, it is one thing for me to hand $20 to someone who’s hungry and cold, quite another for a government goon to take $100 from me at gunpoint and give the hungry and cold person $20, the other $80 going to “system” costs. Some “conservatives” would call this wrong because it is inefficient. I would say it is wrong because I was robbed.
Statists would say that folk’s inclination to be charitable simply can’t be trusted to meet all of the needs of the poor. Only the government can be trusted to care for the poor. Really? Many economists have argued that the subsidization of the poor has resulted in…more poor people. This really is common sense when you think about it. Mises stated this clearly when he said that “…that which is subsidized proliferates and that which is taxed is destroyed.” I’ve heard small government fans get into shouting matches with statists about whether charity was sufficient to help the truly needy. ”Yes it is!” ”No it isn’t.” That sort of back and forth.
A thought occurred to me. Part of the beauty of charity is the very uncertainty that characterizes it. Just the mere thought that a charitable organization might run out of food, shelter, medicine at the free clinic, etc., interjects the necessary uncertainty that limits the likelihood that the supplies or service will be overwhelmed by demand. This uncertainty fans the flames of self-sufficiency, just as the certainty of the arrival of the welfare, unemployment or disability check fans the flames of irresponsibility for those addicted to this form of crack. The epiphany of “I’m going to have to do this on my own, no matter what it takes,” is not likely to happen unless the charity fails to deliver on some occasion. Holes in the safety net deter folks from counting on it to catch them.
So when a statist scoffs at the inadequacy of charity as an alternative to their socialist utopia, you can agree with them and describe why this is a beautiful thing. No success is appreciated like that which has followed on the heels of failure and countless stories of welfare addicts that broke free from the shackles of the poverty pimps attest to this. Statist politicians, on the other hand, want no one to break free from their pimp grip as this weakens their constituency. This new healthcare plan was never intended to act as a health care providing tool. The usual cronies have robbed the taxpayers and have left town. Only a begging, open mouthed baby bird-like constituency will remain and the politicians’ goals will have been realized.
Cheers to the inadequacies of charitable organizations and the self-sufficiency promoted by their failures.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.