Monday, January 03, 2005

Compulsory Charity is Not Moral

This commentary by Matthew Rothschild is so off the mark, but then what do you expect from a magazine with this sappy rhetoric as their MO:

The mission of The Progressive is to be a journalistic voice for peace and social justice at home and abroad. The magazine, its affiliates, and its staff steadfastly oppose militarism, the concentration of power in corporate hands, the disenfranchisement of the citizenry, poverty, and prejudice in all its guises. We champion peace, social and economic justice, civil rights, civil liberties, human rights, a preserved environment, and a reinvigorated democracy.

Which, of course just shows how little they think at all as a rule.

The article is titled Taking Market Ideology to Its Cruelest End and it shows that the author knows very little about the Ayn Rand Institute or Objectivism or anything much at all.

The thrust of the rightwing libertarian group's piece was that the U.S. government "should not give any money to help the tsunami victims" because "every dollar the government hands out as foreign aid has to be extorted from an American taxpayer first." The folks at Ayn Rand don't believe in taxation.

First of all, the ARI is not a rightwing libertarian group. Secondly they do not not believe in taxation. They simply are stating a moral observation about how such money should be used. The taxpayers money should not be used for forced charity. If individuals and private organizations do not wish to donate they should not be forced to by a decision of the government. That money is to be used for the defense of the citizens against physical harm inflicted by other persons and the maintenance of a safe society, NOT for buying friends and trying to plug a never ending hole of need which will suck us dry if they keep letting it. Plenty of individuals want to give aid, and the ARI is not making a judgment that no individual Americans or American organizations should donate as they see fit. The ARI just doesn't agree with Compulsory Charity.

Check this out: "It is America's acceptance of altruism that renders them morally impotent to protest against the confiscation and distribution of their wealth," the piece said. It calls this altruism "a vicious morality."

Yes of course they do. By not claiming our individual rights over our tax dollars we are allowing the government to spend our hard earned money on the whims of what public opinion deems acceptable regardless of the individual's personal choice. Government should not interfere in the individual's decision in this way. This is not a necessary function for them and it is only a political game to make sure we donate "enough" to stay on good terms with everybody which is definitely not moral.

What's vicious is letting millions of people go hungry and homeless and without clean water or medical care. This self-parody would be easy to laugh off if it did not represent the apotheosis of free market idolatry, idolatry that is worshipped at the highest levels of our government.

What's vicious is having a mission statement which in practice advocates slavery.

You don't need to be a member of the Ayn Rand Institute to sense that something morally amiss is shaking the world's political classes. Surfing the great Asian tsunami of 2004 is shaping up as the top policy sport of 2005. No politician or policy wonk can seem to resist the lure of the disaster.

If there's an emerging lesson in the aftermath of the tsunami, it is this: Beware of aid efforts that must be trumpeted in press releases and hyped at news conferences. The bulk of world relief to tsunami victims, soaring to hundreds of millions of dollars, had been registered by private agencies collecting donations from individuals who sought no public recognition, issued no media release and made no effort to get their names into the papers. It was only after it became obvious thousands, if not millions, of individuals wanted to help that the world's governments - in Ottawa and Washington and elsewhere - suddenly saw an opportunity. Absurdly, Ottawa announced it would "match" the private donations of individual Canadians -- as if Ottawa got the money from some magic fountain behind Parliament Hill rather that from taxes on the same individuals who had already volunteered.

As an excellent article by G. Stolyarov II points out:

How is it, one might ask, that government relief to flood victims would damage them, whereas private relief would assist them? Then again, how is it that government aid to the unemployed robs them of the stimulus to return to work and resume earning an income for themselves? How is it that government efforts to rehabilitate criminals, drug addicts, and alcoholics have corresponded with a statistical increase of all three groups over the past several decades? How is it that government efforts to "protect consumers," through regulatory agencies such as the FDA, have resulted in millions of consumer deaths from disease because of the time delays involved in forcing new drugs to undergo unnecessarily stringent tests before being released to the open market? How is it that government labor laws and minimum wage statutes damage the least skilled among workers by forbidding employees to hire them at rates that their skills warrant and are simultaneously profitable to companies? We find that, whenever government intervenes on behalf of a group it deems a victim of society, personal deficiency, private action, or nature, its intervention only serves to further incapacitate the victims.

Private individuals, when not hindered by government intervention, have a choice in how to allocate their funds among the various purposes that they deem to be of importance ... In a free market, they have the full capacity to put their values into practice and organize effective aid to those they believe will benefit from it.

Moreover, this inexhaustible supply of funds implies that, unlike private individuals, who will supply aid for a limited time with the expectation of the recipients' resumption of an autonomous condition not requiring aid, the government can, under pretexts of compassion, afford to give this aid to so-called "victims" indefinitely, thus creating a myriad of money drains like today's farm subsidies (a direct violation of Cleveland's policy of no federal aid to farmers), welfare programs, rehabilitation programs that do not rehabilitate, and Medicaid for drug addicts. Thus, the former expectation of the victims recovering from their conditions transforms into the expectation of the victims continuing to rely on the perpetual magic fount of assistance, fueled, of course, by money unjustly taken from good, productive citizens. Thereby does government, through furnishing this manner of assistance, become the "paternal" entity Cleveland warned us of and discourage otherwise generous and charitable people from helping the new class of perpetually dependent grown-up infants the government has created. After all, a prudent private citizen would not invest his funds into a building that will never be completed or a product that will never be marketed. Nor should he be expected to invest in a person who will never improve as a result of the investment.

Furthermore, government assistance to the tsunami victims will deprive those forced to assist under such circumstances of the ability to practice the moral virtues of benevolence and generosity that private aid entails. According to philosopher Ayn Rand, "The moral is the chosen." The very reason why the concept of morality has any value to an individual is that the individual has the free will to choose to act morally in the face of an alternative. An action that an individual is forced to perform by someone else, be it a government or a private agent (whose use of force would classify him as a criminal), adds nothing to an individual's moral integrity, because, even if he would have done this action independently, he cannot be credited as its initiator, for he had no choice in the matter. Somebody else made the decision for him and enforced it, be it through direct compulsion or the threat of force.

Disasters, however terrible, are temporary and can be recovered from. The consequences of a loss of fidelity to principles, on the other hand, cannot be undone, for principles are permanent and universal, and, without their guidance in proper decision making, there can exist nothing but perpetual suffering for individuals, both the givers and the receivers. Acting with the alleged intention of alleviating suffering, the government, through its involvement in tsunami relief, will only serve to perpetuate this suffering on a scale that only a welfare state is capable of.


Blogger brainhell said...

Maybe one of our shared needs as a country is to maintain good relations with other nations.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Sarah Beth said...

Maybe I stated it wrong the way I said it, so I changed it. It is not though, a shared need to kneel before all the other countries to put ourselves on equal height. Not only that but competing about who can give the most charity is not a way to gain respect especially when the money is taken from taxpayers as I think the rest of the article explains.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Pretzel, freedom fighter cookie said...

If you were tsunami victim you wouldnt like to get aid ?
Problem with taxes in US is they serve for terror funding and terror inciting.. Taxes per se as a mean to distribute richness is not bad. If not for taxes who would build the roads you drive in, if not for taxes who would pay judges advocates etc, does justice fit in free market? should justice be enron/coke/mcdonals"-sponsored ? We are individuals but also part of a comunity. Even animals have feeling towards their mates, I don't see what's wrong with help those who suffer.
By privatizing jails, US got the highest number of impriosioned people than any other country. Now jailing people is business, not justice.
Taxes are needed.

2:42 PM  

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