My latest over at Catholic Lane: On Charity. It’s not my favorite piece: It’s pretty compact without much flair (no cogent quotes and clever anecdotes), and I’m concerned that the piece slightly conflates “charity” with “entitlements,” but overall, I like it. Excerpt:
Bookmark it: del.icio.us | Reddit | Slashdot | Digg | Facebook | Technorati | Google | StumbleUpon | Window Live | Tailrank | Furl | Netscape | Yahoo | BlinkList
Dorothy Day said that the poor always smell and are always ungrateful. Those traits are things that help make poverty work hard. It makes poverty work a lot harder for me. Nothing makes me bristle more than volunteering to raise money for people who expect me to volunteer to raise money for them.
In fact, I have a devilish Ayn Rand-ish streak in me, one that says all charity work for the dispossessed is bad: a fraud that is filled with bad consequences for society as a whole and an injustice.
First, the fraud: Many of the dispossessed game the charitable system. If they spent half as much time working legitimately than they do trying to get free hand-outs, they’d make enough money to subsist without charity.
Second, the bad consequences: These are legion. Here are a few: (1) By enabling the dispossessed to game the charitable system instead of working productively, we hamper the creation of wealth. (2) By allowing people to demand goods instead of working for them, we weaken the social fabric. A person can get his free clothes, give the volunteers the middle finger, then walk away. . . then come back again later. (3) We contribute to the permanent underclass that big government programs have already enlarged beyond belief. (4) The inner cities stay suppressed (for the reasons set forth in (1) and (2)).
Third, it’s an injustice. The virtue of justice is “the constant and permanent determination to give everyone his or her rightful due.” John Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary. How is it “just” for me to take resources away from my family to give them to insufferable (tattooed and sassy, in my experience) individuals who won’t work (remember: that’s the crux of the problem I’m addressing here; charity for people Dorothy Day described . . . I’m not talking about crippled children and disabled veterans).