Sunday, February 26, 2012

Charity vs Government Provision

Nothing seems more confused today than the understanding and relation of charity and the government entitlement culture.

On the show Jan 18, 2012 show, "The Five" with Progressive Commentator Bob Beckel, they were having a discussion where Andrea Tantaros was speaking with Beckel about conservatism and Rush Limbaugh, and they played a clip where Limbaugh said, "We conservatives do not see black, white, male, female, gay, straight.  We look at people, we see potential. We want the best for everybody. We know what's holding them back, it's government." 

Tantaros:  So Rush's point, Rush actually says that government's holding people back.  I actually think it's government telling people that it's okay to sit on your butts and we'll give you checks every month.

Beckel:  No, I don't think that's what the government says.

Tantaros:  Because it's good for the economy [as a government stimulus].

Beckel: We liberals made a terrible mistake going back 30 years ago, we made a dependent society  because we thought we were doing the right thing.  We had things like public housing, we had welfare payments, and all that bred a dependency, and it was our responsibility. We did it for the right reasons we need to change that.  But the way you change that is not to say its an opportunity society alone that's going to do it.  Its going to require some government intervention, that's our point.

Video of Beckel's statement


The next day Mr. Beckel reviewed it again and said
"what I want to repeat here is that there is going to be a need for government to help certain people in our society, many of whom come from the inner city, many of whom are minorities, and they are going to require some government intervention to help them.  We went too far is what I said, and I still believe, I said it yesterday, and I'll say it again today, we did it for the right intentions in many cases the wrong outcome".

Mr. Beckel's analysis admits that the outcome, the unintended consequence, of the progressive social policy was the creation of a dependency society.  But that we should be content that it was done for the "right reasons" and to prescribe more government to fix it.  A solution that, since it is an essentially symbiotic relationship, would seem doomed to inevitable failure.  This does demonstrate one very important step in addressing and solving issues. We have to admit the instances where we went wrong, and Mr Beckel did that on the behalf of his fellow Progressives.  An admission I am sure many will thunderously hold against him.  While I can agree with Mr. Beckel's statement that there will always be some among us who will need assistance, a helping hand, the unfettered access to "living on the dole" will only make the dependency society increase.  Larger government breeds this and cannot reduce it because it is antithetical to its nature.  We have to break the cycle and understand that an individuals need does not create an unlimited obligation on the part of society to fulfill it.

The seductive nature of government entitlement intervention is the central theme of an article posted by Catholic scholar Professor Paul Rahe.  Professor Rahe’s entire scholarly career [Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, Yale, Cornell, and Hillsdale] has been focused on studying the origins and evolution of self-government within the West. He is also member of the Catholic Church. The prompting for his writing was the recent controversy about government enforced edicts over religious liberty, mandating contraception supply to Catholic organizations. It's message is equally true for Protestant theologians and practitioners whose support of the entitlement "nanny state" overshadows their own message of personal responsibility and liberty.  Professor Rahe's message (hat tip PowerlineBlog) is as universally applicable to Protestant, Evangelical, and even secular organizations as it is to the Catholic brethren he is writing to.

Professor Rahe begins with a history that shows
that the Church worked assiduously to hem in the authority of the Christian kings and that its success in this endeavor provided the foundation for the emergence of a parliamentary order. ... It was the Church that promoted the principles underpinning the emergence of parliaments. It did so by fostering the species of government that had emerged within the church itself. Given that the Church in the West made clerical celibacy one of its principal practices (whether it was honored in the breach or not), the hereditary principle could play no role in its governance. Inevitably, it resorted to elections.

Then he shows the modern loss of that liberty of conscience
This is what the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church forgot. In the 1930s, the majority of the  bishops, priests, and nuns sold their souls to the devil, and they did so with the best of intentions. In their concern for the suffering of those out of work and destitute, they wholeheartedly embraced the New Deal. They gloried in the fact that Franklin Delano Roosevelt made Frances Perkins – a devout Anglo-Catholic laywoman who belonged to the Episcopalian Church but retreated on occasion to a Catholic convent – Secretary of Labor and the first member of her sex to be awarded a cabinet post. And they welcomed Social Security – which was her handiwork. They did not stop to ponder whether public provision in this regard would subvert the moral principle that children are responsible for the well-being of their parents. They did not stop to consider whether this measure would reduce the incentives for procreation and nourish the temptation to think of sexual intercourse as an indoor sport. They did not stop to think.

In the process, the leaders of the American Catholic Church fell prey to a conceit that had long before ensnared a great many mainstream Protestants in the United States – the notion that public provision is somehow akin to charity – and so they fostered state paternalism and undermined what they professed to teach: that charity is an individual responsibility and that it is appropriate that the laity join together under the leadership of the Church to alleviate the suffering of the poor. In its place, they helped establish the Machiavellian principle that underpins modern liberalism – the notion that it is our Christian duty to confiscate other people’s money and redistribute it.

At every turn in American politics since that time, you will find the hierarchy assisting the Democratic Party and promoting the growth of the administrative entitlements state. At no point have its members evidenced any concern for sustaining limited government and protecting the rights of individuals. It did not cross the minds of these prelates that the liberty of conscience which they had grown to cherish is part of a larger package – that the paternalistic state, which recognizes no legitimate limits on its power and scope, that they had embraced would someday turn on the Church and seek to dictate whom it chose to teach its doctrines and how, more generally, it would conduct its affairs.

In my lifetime, to my increasing regret, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States has lost much of its moral authority. It has done so largely because it has subordinated its teaching of Catholic moral doctrine to its ambitions regarding an expansion of the administrative entitlements state.

This loss is a loss for us all.  And it restoration will be slow and difficult.  The message fights against the current stream of the entitlement mentality, and the culture of dependency that it has created. But for those who value personal individual liberty, it is a restoration that is needed.

1 comment:

  1. "If you haven't any charity in your heart you have the worst kind of heart trouble" to cure it help people, let's unite for one good cause, be a volunteer"save lives"!mawaddainternationalaid

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