Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jillette: Charity and the Role of Government

Morgan and Mark shared a Bastiat Institute fb link with a Penn Jillette quote about charity and the role of government.

I thought the money quote was this one: "You get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right."

Of course when it comes down to things that impinge on people's life, liberty, or property -- theft and fraud, murder, damage to our environment, assault ... well yeah.  Those are the source of the basic laws of the land.

But one liberal commenter said that it was, in fact, the role of government to provide public education because it is "in the public interest", and he went on to say:

"Once upon a time, we had a society without public assistance programs. Everything was done through private charities. It didn't work very well."

Hmmmm.   And families performing their duty to help each other out, but able to withhold support if it were clear they were taken advantage of. It didn't work very well? How is it working better today?

Today we have nameless people giving other people's money to people they don't know. The recipients look on it as a right. It disincentivizes doing whatever one can to get one's own ass out of one's bad situation.

Today we pump much more money into it, only this money buys votes and influence and invites fraud and corruption.

Schools? Yes, our founders did believe public education was important, and they left it up to the states and local communities to provide it. The current system has our communities jockeying for money for education, rather than on getting education for their money. The priorities are flipped and we see the results.

I, too, believe the average liberal honestly wants to help people. Would that they could see past their noses to see that we do, too. But that the "obvious" easy "solutions" produce the illusion of success -- but only because we measure "success" now in dollars rather than results.

That goes for welfare programs, too.


Whitehawk said...

Marvin Olasky's "The Tragedy of American Compassion" is a great history of the welfare system and what it was like in America before public assistance came along and what it did to America when government agencies took over. He gives some great info.

To give people money without their having known what it took to get it is a crime.

To take it from someone who knows personally what it means to earn it then HAVE to give it to the first person is also a crime.

philmon said...

Just left this out there on a similar post:

"Bottom line is, you make choices in life, and they have an impact on how you live. No, you don't have control over everything (nobody does). Yes, some people need help and helping them is the right thing to do. But the help should be given by individuals and groups of individuals who agree on what and how and how much. When you punt it all to government, the personal connection is gone, and in the long run it is detrimental to society, even if some people are impacted positively along the way."

Severian said...

"Once upon a time, we had a society without public assistance programs. Everything was done through private charities. It didn't work very well."

Ninja, please. As opposed to --just off the top of my head -- the USSR, the PRC, Yugoslavia, Cuba, Angola, Tanzania, Albania, North Korea.... workers' paradises all, with public assistance out the wazoo and nary a private charity in sight.


But then again, it's like I've always said -- if liberals knew any history, they wouldn't be liberals.