Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Should Government Force Us To Be Our Brother's Keeper

Cathy Lynn Grossman, the religion reporter for USA Today and one of the best people I have ever known, posted an interesting thought on her “Facebook” page recently.  She wrote, “Washington is about to tackle entitlements.  It appears the poor and elderly will take a hit.  One reason: They’re defenseless, no matter how many pastors, bishops and interfaith groups talk about morality and money.”

As anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis might suspect, the issue of government entitlements may be a point of disagreement between me and Ms. Grossman.  While I think we would both agree that there is a definite moral foundation for us to help our fellow citizens in need, I don’t personally believe that the moral foundation translates to giving government license to arbitrarily confiscate the money of successful people under the guise of helping unsuccessful people.

As a pragmatic libertarian Republican, I don’t believe it is government’s role to act as a charity to redistribute wealth that is legitimately earned and created.  Unfortunately, many liberals believe that political philosophy equates to a person who does not care for the poor and disadvantaged and believes they should fend for themselves.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am all for helping the poor, even those who are in that condition because of their own reckless and irresponsible behavior.  I just don’t believe that the government entitlement programs are even close to being as effective as private charities have proven to be.

Here is one question that I would like to ask Cathy and all big government advocates in the media.  Why are you so sure that the taxpayer money that goes into these entitlement programs is actually getting to the people who need help?  How do you know that the funding isn’t so diluted by the time it gets through the massive government bureaucracies that are charged with administering these programs that there is very little left for the people the funding is meant to aid?

I would much rather see these huge federal bureaucracies significantly downsized and have the U.S. Treasury cuts checks directly to those in need.  Sure, some may squander the money on drugs and alcohol, but I firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of poor people would use the funding to help improve the lives of themselves and their families.

When you downsize the government, you can cut tax rates even further.  Then, like-minded people can form tax-free foundations to help the disadvantaged far more effectively, in my opinion, than government entitlement programs do.

The usual response I get from my liberal friends is that rich people must be forced through taxation to help those less fortunate.  My response is nonsense.  I know there are a certain percentage of greedy people out there who will never have enough money.  However, it has been my experience in life that most rich people in this country, especially those who have made it all on their own, are very generous.  In many of my corporate communications position, I have rubbed elbows with wealthy, powerful people who I’ve known to be ethical and kind.  I have sat in board rooms and watched as very wealthy people have written huge personal checks to construct new hospital buildings, underwrite scholarship programs for good students who can’t afford college, and fund a variety of private charities that provide effective aid for the disadvantaged.

Yes, we do have a moral obligation to help our fellow citizens.  We do not, in my opinion, have a moral obligation to fund a bloated and ineffective bureaucracy that appears to have failed miserably in assisting those who are truly needy.

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