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Government and the atrophy of charity

As someone who leans libertarian, I have lots of reason for disliking the gargantuan size of the government. I think large government programs are wasteful and intrusive. One of the most talked about problems is the decline of personal rights and responsibility as government expands. But another damaging consequence of big government is the reduction of personal charity and atrophy of family and community to meet the needs of their members.

The gospel of Matthew tells us “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When I use my own treasure to provide for the needs of others, I am invested in their lives–my heart is there with them. When the government is the vehicle to relieve suffering, my concern is not as a neighbor, but as a taxpayer who is concerned that the government is using my money wisely. It ceases to be charity and becomes just one more boondoggle for a bloated bureaucracy.

This is my beef with the One Campaign: it doesn’t ask for personal involvement or sacrifice, it asks for lobbying. I’m all for petitioning the government (I used to pull a paycheck doing just that), but the One Campaign asks for no personal involvement other than demanding the government to pony up some cash. The problems here are manifold. Firstly, governments generally don’t provide the aid directly to the poor, they fund organizations who in turn provide aid. This scenario raises many questions: Which organizations should get the money? What about religious organizations or those who have political goals at odds with the majority of taxpayers? Do we look solely at the aid provided? What if an organization is good at providing aid, but also involved in other, more controversial activities. (Hamas, anyone?) Does funding a religious charity violate the separation between church and state? It can get pretty sticky. (Yes, I know, that “faith-based” initiative thing settled this question, except it really just ignored it.)

In addition to all the political and moral issues raised, the One Campaign only asks for political activity or donations to their political activity. The website doesn’t even suggest–at least not anywhere that I could find–that individuals might want to contribute their own money to the cause of relieving poverty (other than supporting the One Campaign’s political activity.) They do have a list of partner organizations, some of which provide support. The company will commence the delivery process and you free viagra india will receive it within a matter of days depending on your location. wholesale sildenafil While there are many ED medications that promise you beneficial effects, they usually come with a few potential side effects. Silagra resolves the problem of erectile purchase levitra no prescription view this dysfunction by improving their sexual life. If you’re also facing the troubles of impotency and looking for a true savior then blue fast generic cialis pillenis your answer. But even here, there is no encouragement to support these organizations. I wonder how many people have signed up, bought a bracelet, etc., but don’t actually put their own money where their mouth is.

As a homeschooler and someone who has seen the weaknesses of the “more money=better education” argument, I am more than a little skeptical that “just one percent of the United States Budget” is going to end all poverty and suffering. For that matter, I am skeptical that 10% or 20% of the budget would end poverty. (The Deputy Headmistress recently had a great post on “The poor we will always have with us.” ) Moreover, money funneled through government bureaucracies is pretty much guaranteed to be wasteful and inefficient.

The famous essay “Not Yours to Give” by David Crockett sums up my thoughts. Col. Crockett, speaking on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, said, “We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money.”

As a Christian, I believe I have a duty to provide from my own finances support for those in need. So here is the “One Campaign” that I would get behind:

Every individual should give one percent of his personal income to alleviate poverty. Charity Navigator and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability are good places to start your search for an organization to support. Keeping in mind the religious or political aims and philosophy of aid of these organizations, you can choose the one with which you best agree. Give and then encourage others to give.

Wouldn’t you join a campaign like this? And you don’t even have to put your personal information in a database or wear a stupid plastic bracelet to do it. Just give.

2 responses to “Government and the atrophy of charity”

  1. Renae Avatar

    Thank you for this thoughtful post. I agree that we need to give not ask the government to force others to “give.” It is not the government’s job to pass handouts to those who are struggling. However, if the church fails to do it government steps in. We need to take back compassion. It is a lot of work but if we each do our part we can help bring lasting change to people’s lives.

  2. April Avatar


    Absolutely, as a church & as individuals, we need to step up and meet the needs of the suffering. And I think that we are more than able to do that–financially and organizationally–if we made it a personal priority.

    My main issue with the One Campaign is this: nowhere does it call for personal involvement in the actual provision of charity. Government aid transforms charity and community to a fight over who gets the biggest piece of pie.

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