Sunday, February 28, 2010

Charity vs. Entitlements

Today's American Thinker has an article, by Roger Banks entitled Obama and Charity that expresses very well what I was trying to say in a one sided debate with my wife yesterday. Go read the whole thing, then come back.

Read it? Good.

Continuing his lament over what he calls an "erosion of civility in the public square," President Obama chose the setting of this year's national prayer breakfast to admonish his ill-mannered opponents. "Surely you can question my policies," he said, "without questioning my faith."

However noble the spirit to rebel against a directive that so brazenly chills the content of political speech -- scolding those who "poison the well of public opinion" while seeking to purge from that well opinions not to the liking of the lords of decorum -- responding impulsively proves unnecessary.

It's unnecessary because Obama himself, in the same speech, raises the question for us, by linking his faith to his policies. "God's grace," he said, "is expressed through ... the efforts of our entire government."
This little attempt at rhetorical blackmail conflates government entitlements with true charity, and does not reflect God's grace, but rather pure power politics. Let's take a look at it shall we? Every time Obama sends out a check for a welfare payment, he uses taxes. Taxes are payments taken out of the hands of productive citizens at the point of a gun. Oh, sure, some may give it up "voluntarily", but if they did not, you can be sure that force would be used to obtain it anyway, so that the analogy of a gun is indeed appropriate. If anyone else obtained funds from a person by arms, or the threat of arms, that person would be considered an armed robber, and be accused of theft. So, Obama uses stolen money to pay off some of the electorate for votes, then accuses the productive citizens who rightly complain of being uncharitable. Worse still, Obama now claims credit for being charitable, while using stolen money from other people to do it. I think I have read this before...oh yes, it was called Robin Hood.

And what of the person receiving such payments? Are they grateful? Are they inspired to change their ways, pull themselves up by their boot straps, and become productive citizens themselves? Sadly, the answer is often, no. You see, these welfare payments are not marketed as "charity" but rather as entitlements, something owed to these people, for what is never said. Nobody wants to hurt any one's feelings by calling it charity, you understand. Thus, by making welfare an entitlement, Obama creates a permanent dependency class, while denying people the opportunity to realize their dependency and do something about it.

Now, compare that to true Christian charity. In Christian charity, the giver gives of his own free will and accord, from his own substance, after praying and deciding for himself how much to give, and to whom. The giver could have used those funds for anything, but chooses to give to the particular person or program, so feels his money is well spent. The person receiving the funds is grateful, precisely because the person giving could have spent his funds elsewhere. Interestingly, the one who gives is also grateful for having had the opportunity to have the kind of wealth that makes giving possible in the first place. Gratitude generates more good will, which causes more giving.

Perhaps, Mr. Banks sums it up best:
At best, entitlements are based not on faith, but on fear -- fear that love and charity are not enough. Yet for people to give more, government must tax less. Now, there's a policy that really would require faith...even faith in the miracle of Scrooge on Christmas morning.

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