no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Without a State, Who Will Help the Poor?

November 16th, 2007

There are people who wonder, “What will happen to the poor without the Government to support them?” For starters, this guy:

The Erie Community Foundation, in Pennsylvania, has received a pledge of $100-million from an anonymous donor.

But a more appropriate answer would be: Just about everyone. Drive down Main Street of any suburb during holiday season and watch as drivers roll down their windows at red lights to donate to the Knights of Columbus and the retarded children. Or to the local Salvation Army volunteers who pose as Santa Claus, ringing the bell outside your grocery store. Or to the local Fire Department when they host a pancake breakfast. For over a decade (perhaps longer) Big Boy restaurants in conjunction with the Boy Scouts, has coordinated a food-drive of undeniably epic proportions. I’m sure that wherever you live, there are dozens of charity-minded individuals and organizations just like these described above.

But some people insist that individuals aren’t giving enough. To them, the answer is clear: Government needs to give more. But the only way this can occur is if Government first takes more to begin with, from each and every one of us. Entirely neglecting to notice that Government is itself, (by crowding out private charity) the root cause of the need for more charity, increasingly, it begins to appear that Government intervention is the only viable solution. But this solution is fatally flawed.

What these advocates of intervention “see” is the government redistribution of incomes. What they don’t see is at least twofold: How that income would’ve otherwise been spent (the demand for goods and services creates opportunities for work) and how much more of that income would’ve otherwise been given to charities. One point that I never tire of repeating (OK, I do get kind of tired of it) is that by-and-large, people continue to give in spite of, and in addition to the onerous levels of taxation that many of them face. And virtually none of these people give any surplus charity to the government, although they certainly could. These people are facing aggregate tax rates approaching or exceeding 50% (sum of income taxes, sales taxes, sin taxes, property taxes, etc.) of their gross income, yet they still give to charity either through monetary donations or volunteering in-kind. Clearly, the evidence suggests that most people have a very strong sense of community and charity — yet we are led to believe that without government (to whom nobody voluntarily gives), donations to charity would simply dry up? The logic required to arrive at this conclusion is simply mind-boggling.

Would you stop giving to charity if you had more money to give?  Or would you give a little bit (or even a lot) more?    The bottom line is this: There are many, many people just like you, who express concern about the plight of the less fortunate. You and the Anonymous Millionaire Benefactors, are the answer.

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no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics