Charity vs. Coercion

When we oppose subsidies, we are charged with opposing the very thing that it was proposed to subsidize and of being the enemies of all kinds of activity, because we want these activities to be voluntary and to seek their proper reward in themselves. Thus, if we ask that the state not intervene, by taxation, in religious matters, we are atheists. If we ask that the state not intervene, by taxation, in education, then we hate enlightenment. If we say that the state should not give, by taxation, an artificial value to land or to some branch of industry, then we are the enemies of property and of labor. If we think that the state should not subsidize artists, we are barbarians who judge the arts useless. — Frederic Bastiat

I’ve posted this quote on Facebook once but never got to dig into it more.  One of the things about the socialists / statist-left that irritates me most is the notion that THEY are the only ones that care about people — the hungry, homeless, needy, children, etc.  The argument usually goes something like what Bastiat describes above — that if ANYONE opposes the government feeding hungry, homeless children, well it must mean that it is because they are cold and calloused.  Moreover, “those people” are usually grouped together with the rich, corporations, greedy Republicans, shysters, conservatives, Christians, Wall Street, the 1%, white, male . . . . you get the idea.  

CHARITY is no longer a benevolent, altruistic endeavor when you are taking money, resources, time and energy away from people without their say so.  If I don’t have the choice not to participate, there’s another word for that redistribution.  It’s COERCION.  How Socialists were allowed to declare themselves the champions of caring is beyond me.  Fanciful visions of Robin Hood stealing from the greedy Sheriff to feed to downtrodden sets the Socialists’ hearts a flutter.  Quips like “the rich can afford it” and “they have too much already” are the mantra of the “Occupy Anyone Else’s Property” movement.  What these statists don’t realize is that the government ends up taking not from just the rich but from EVERYONE including the ones they are professing to help.

The plain truth is that TRUE CHARITY, collected from the willing and distributed directly to those in need, is far more efficient, effective, and MUCH less wasteful or open to corruption than a centralized, faceless bureaucracy accountable to no one. 

“[Publicwelfare programs] are estimated to absorb about two-thirds of each dollar budgetedto them in overhead costs, and in some cases as much as three-quarters of eachdollar. Using government data, Robert L. Woodson…calculated that, on average,70 cents of each dollar budgeted for government assistance goes not to thepoor, but to the members of the welfare bureaucracy and others serving thepoor….In contrast,  administrative andother operating costs in private charities absorb, on average, only one-thirdor less of each dollar donated, leaving the other two-thirds (or more) to be deliveredto recipients.” – James Rolph Edwards, “The Costs of Public IncomeRedistribution and Private Charity,”

Yet despite these facts of how little of government coerced redistribution actual ends up in the hands of the needy, most citizens are content with the status quo.  They justify their indifference by telling themselves that something is better than nothing.  The socialists have convinced them that they’re doing their part and that if the state didn’t do it, no one would.  It’s a self-perpetuating black hole now and it’s growing exponentially.  

Before the government took over, neighbors, businesses and churches would get together to support the needs within their communities.  But with the advent of the income tax — citizens have again handed over that responsibility to the government out of laziness and indifference.  The fact is that government coercion is the OPPOSITE of charity and only ends up hurting those you are trying to help.

7 thoughts on “Charity vs. Coercion

  1. I guess it's easy to be "charitable" with someone else's money! Besides being legalized theft, the sad result of this system is that it weakens churches and communities and makes everyone dependent on government for their welfare. My family would qualify for all kinds of government programs, and I have actually felt looked down on by people for not taking it, as if I'm not providing for my children properly. I have even heard of churches who won't give help until someone signs up for government assistance.Government "charity" works great for socialists. It's a lot easier to control people who have no sense of community and feel they have nowhere else to turn.


  2. Tanya – you have to do what your conscience tells you is best for your family. If you can avoid the government's entitlements and find contentment in earning what you take, you honor the spirit of our Founding Fathers. We won't change our families, communities, churches, schools and government unless we start with our own choices and the legacy we leave for our children.


  3. I tried to comment earlier, but I think I erased it! I think you have a good point. We are only responsible for our own choices and the example we set for future generations. I tend to get discouraged when others don't "get it". My husband, however, has no qualms about standing up for his choices and holding others accountable for theirs, so he encourages me!


  4. Your husband sounds like an upright man, and I applaud him. If only everyone took their own accountability as seriously, much of the world's dilemmas would be solved today. What's challenging about Liberty and Individual Freedom is the fact that we need to respect others' rights, as long as they do not cause harm to us or others. I am morally opposed to much that takes place in the world around me. As a result and as the head of my household, it is my duty to protect my children and wife from the influence of those things. There is an important distinction to be made here. I don't have any problem *telling* people what's wrong with the world or with their choices. I think we have an obligation as Christians to preach truth and holiness. What we *don't* have is the authority to use force, particularly legislative or physical violence, in the name of righteousness.If we profess to defend Liberty, we must safeguard our desires to do Good with the rights of others to choose otherwise. I think as parents, it's especially hard for us to just sit back and let people make poor decisions. It's in our nature to want to correct. But just as our children will someday become adults responsible for their own decisions, we need to allow grown adults the freedom to choose their paths.


  5. Well said! I used to consider myself a "conservative" Christian, but as I looked into the Word and looked at how we relate to our government, I saw that using government to enforce morality at the point of a gun is neither godly nor effective. At this point I'm still sorting out where I stand on government biblically. I think it's clear that God never wanted his people to have earthly kings in the first place, so I'm conflicted on what the proper role of government should be, or if there is one. I don't really think it's right for one group to be given weapons in order to control another group. If we have government at all, I believe it should only exist to protect liberty and property. The trouble is, any government that has weapons to enforce law always seems to become tyrannical in time. I'm not really sure there is such a thing as godly government, only godly or ungodly people. What do you think?


  6. This is indeed a mystery. There *is* a proper role for government biblically speaking. Again, I don’t subscribe to anarchy and neither did the apostles, in my opinion. They did, however, struggle with balancing obeying the wills of men (government) vs. the convictions of their hearts (God). David Barton wrote a very good summary of views concerning the Biblical Justification of the American Revolution ( My own personal convictions lead me to believe that if Men are advocating unrighteous legislation or use of violence, I have an obligation as one who has seen the Light of Christ to speak out and defend liberty — starting in my home. But again, this is a mystery that is deeply personal for each man and woman for which we must someday give an account.


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