Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Compulsory charity creates a “demand” for poverty

Tithers and Beggars


Some snippets from this article to reflect on.

There is a scene in the movie, “Gandhi,” in which Gandhi is returning to India triumphantly from South Africa in 1915, where he had succeeded in gaining increased civil rights for Indians living in that nation. He is being driven in an open automobile through a poverty-stricken section of the city — the only scene of real poverty in the movie. Hands are outstretched to those in the automobile. The beggars have no idea who this man is, or what these rich people are doing. They just raise their hands up, trying to get a few coins.
Are beggars a national tragedy for India? No doubt, but not simply because there is poverty. The tragedy is that these people were (and are) professional beggars in a nation that is known for its professional beggars. It is a profession handed down from parents to children. In a nation devoid of God’s law, men beg for a few coins directly from the rich, and the rich, because they are not taught to tithe, do not develop professionally managed charities that might teach poor people the skills necessary to raise them out of poverty.
India is held captive by a philosophy of earthly despair, the rejection of material existence, and an acceptance of life-long caste barriers. There is no widespread belief in the possibility of an escape from poverty in a single lifetime. There is also little hope for one’s heirs, given the caste system. The only hope for a better life is another life which is higher on the scale of being, through reincarnation (karma). The ultimate goal is the attainment of nirvana, an escape from the bonds of the material realm into Absolute Nothingness.
Time is not linear for the Hindu; it is cyclical. Only as a result of the influence of western philosophy, which is future-oriented and which holds to a belief in linear time, has the thinking of a minority of Indians been altered. Where Eastern philosophy reigns, there is little possibility of material progress, in time and on earth, as a result of one’s own thrift and hard work So some men are taught to beg, including “holy men,” for that is their legitimate calling. In a world without long-term material hope, begging is an acceptable way to feed oneself.
In the secular, formerly Christian West, the rise of socialism has accompanied a decline of tithing. Voters have sensed that the lack of disciplined giving is a threat to the community. They have voted tor wealth redistribution programs which will be manned, it is hoped, by professional givers, and financed by compulsory taxation. But this has not worked to help the poor; the administrators of the compulsory social welfare programs have themselves become professional beggars rather than professional givers. Worse; they have become professional beggars in the name of the poor, while they have absorbed in administrative costs the funds supposedly designated for the poor. (Prof. Walter Williams has estimated that by taking the annual budget for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1976, and distributing it equally among the American Indians, each Indian family would have received a grant of about $30,000. Instead, they were kept in poverty under the “care” of the bureaucrats.) The compulsory nature of these programs has made it very difficult for those who finance them (taxpayers) to monitor them, restrict them, or abolish them.
Rich and middle-class voters have accepted this because they feel guilty. They know that charity must be systematic, but they have abandoned their responsibility to monitor the programs. They pass on this responsibility to politicians and bureaucratic administrators. They pay far more than a tithe to the State in exchange for hoped-for relief from the pangs of guilt. This is the politics of guilt and pity, to use Rushdoony’s felicitous phrase. But taxpayers can never pay enough; the poor keep multiplying — literally and figuratively — and the bureaucrats have an incentive to keep them multiplying, at least those under their administration.
Compulsory charity creates a “demand” for poverty, and the market responds by creating newly discovered (or newly defined) poor people. The poor get handouts, and a permanent economic incentive not to escape. If they work at low-paying jobs, they get taxed. But welfare benefits are tax-free. So they stay on welfare.

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