By Howard McCrum / September 24, 2014 / American Thinker
Charity – the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.
Altruism – The belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
Liberalism’s core is built on the assumption that government bureaucracies can be effective instruments of altruism. From the Democrats’ view, altruism occurs whenever money is taken from those who have it and given to those who don’t. However, the same process equally describes a mugging.
Democrats have failed to exercise the least due diligence in the planning, design, and testing of their core proposition. Yet they demand we bet our prosperity and our children’s futures on it. If it doesn’t work on paper, it won’t work in practice. In practice, the 50-year-old war on poverty squandered 16 trillion dollars and destroyed the black family and left poverty unscratched. In practice, Stalin took land from the Kulaks, gave it to collective ownership by the peasants, and starved 7,000,000 in 1932-1933. We have an endless supply of evidence that it doesn’t work in practice. But going backwards, does it even work on paper?
We could recommend Democrats emulate software engineering. Tools like “use case” diagrams expose shortcomings of complex software systems in their infancy. But it doesn’t require anything so complex to expose the lack of intellectual or moral rigor in the Democrats’ central theory.
It is the participants’ emotional states and final intentions that determine whether the world was improved by an intended act of charity. So let’s start with a simple bullet list of actions and reactions in a simple charitable act.
A Simple Charitable Act
- Philanthropist is affected by plight of a potential beneficiary
- Philanthropist assesses the need for intervention
- Is it serious enough to warrant interference?
- How much help is needed?
- Is the victim genuine or fraudulent?
- Philanthropist gives according to his ability and conscience (or refrains from giving)
- Recipient is grateful to the giver
- He’s probably determined to make the most of his good luck, since this chance may not come again
- He’s likely to be inspired to “live up to” the gift or repay his debt,
- or possibly embarrassed by the social stigma of accepting charity
- Motivated to ensure that he should never feel similar shame again
- Giver feels ennobled and is likely to seek out future opportunities to repeat the experience
Sometimes the problems are big and broad. Charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross then act as agents between large groups of donors and recipients. But the essential dynamics remain the same: a donor celebrates in his free choice, and a grateful recipient moves toward independence and an increased value to society.
Contrast these results with:
A Typical Government Giveaway
- Victims of a “social issue” are identified
- Politicians count the likely voters they will win or lose if they act or not
- Scapegoats are chosen
- Claiming “injustice” helps marshal public opinion, intimidate opponents
- Democrat politicians strut and preen, congratulate themselves for their superior compassion
- Opponents are vilified as “selfish“
- The victims are told they are entitled, have a “right” to assistance
- No one explains where the victims get their “right” to steal others’ money
- No one explains why the victims’ demands to other people’s money isn’t “selfish”
- A law is passed to authorize tax money to be given to the victims
- A government agency is established to oversee the handouts
- The victims receive handouts
- Gratitude to the taxpayers who sacrificed is replaced by gratitude to the Democrat Party thieves who steal on their behalf
- The victims vote Democrat to express their gratitude and keep the assistance flowing
- They often discover that it pays better to stay on public assistance indefinitely than to wean themselves
- Victims’ aspirations for a better life fade into satisfaction with a marginally bearable status quo
- Years pass and the program grows to cover situations and problems which were never debated when the law first passed
- Agency growth is like a metastasizing cancer
- News stories describe the corruption in the program
- Democrats run for office on the pledge that they will root out “waste, fraud, and abuse” in the program
- They look to the smallest possible subset of crooks to prosecute
- If loopholes are plugged, the scam artists soon figure out better ways to cheat
- Normally honest people, made cynical by the spectacle of corruption celebrated as compassion, are enticed to similarly cheat the system
- Private charity shrivels as increasing taxes shrink everyone’s ability to give
- Any suggestion that the program be terminated is met by rabid lobbyists and special interest groups
- chanting the mantra “Rights! Compassion! Social Justice!”
Clearly, outsourcing our compassion to government handout programs can’t work. Altruism’s bedrock characteristic of disinterested selflessness can’t be achieved by self-serving politicians using taxpayers’ money to buy votes. The taxpayer, who is involuntarily relieved of his “contribution” (none too gently) by the taxman, is denied his opportunity for spiritual growth. The beneficiary is spared any emotional or material spur to self-reliance.
The left claims to have churned crap into butter, sublimating theft into something fair and fine. And the obvious lie is accepted by otherwise honest people. They wouldn’t dream of robbing anyone at gunpoint. They think nothing of sending a government to do it for them.
This isn’t altruism. This is altruism’s perverted evil twin.
Democrats will never be able to diagram a theoretical model of government-run altruism. Government control will always be fertile ground for these intrinsic seeds of failure: venality, deceit, sloth, power lust, vengeance, coercion, fraud, and self-promotion. Before anyone votes for a Democrat in November, we should all demand Democrats try to make that diagram. I’d donate to see that.