Does charity begin in the home or in the State House?

With Paul Ryan shooting across the political sky with a blazing light, the Left is getting worried.  The latest attack is to trot out Catholics who claim that, because Paul Ryan objects to wealth redistribution, he’s anti-Catholic.  After all, say these Catho-Lefto pundits, what could be more generous than allowing the government to use its overwhelming police power to rob from the rich to give to the poor?  Not everyone is buying that, with some thoughtful people pointing out that, to the extent that charity is supposed to enrich the giver as much as the beneficiary, forcible redistribution fails completely at a moral level.

Incidentally, the fear that allowing the state to step in for charity dries up the individual conscience isn’t unfounded.  The numbers prove that fewer people practice personal altruism if the state does it for them.

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  • jj

    Another day in catechism through which I must have slept!  I had lame nuns, I guess; though they were certainly diligent in belting us with rulers and firing erasers our way when they detected a lack of attention.  But they completely failed to impart the stuff about wealth redistribution.  Missed that entirely.

  • Ymarsakar

    The Left is once again attempting the divide and conquer method of total warfare. While people are busy arguing which Catholics are right or wrong, the Left is busy consolidating power and soon the effort wasted amidst the Catholics will have allowed the Left to surge anew.

  • Marica

    On a related note, in case you haven’t seen it yet.

    Out today, “How America Gives.” Searchable and fascinating.  

  • Marica

    oops. Sorry for the redundancy. That link was already at one of the links Book posted. 

  • Charles Martel

    I say this as a practicing Catholic: The weenies who form the majority of Catholic bishops in the U.S. are a pretty spineless bunch—robed hand wringers. I certainly agree with them that governments must be solicitous of the welfare of their citizens, but they lack the sophistication to see that the means of achieving that solicitude should not be theft, no matter how politely or sweetly you justify it.  
    As for the nuns, most orthodox Catholics do not trust any nun who doesn’t wear a habit. Very few nuns—and I do not mean this as a diss—are heavy thinkers. The intellectual lightweights and dim bulbs who got swept away by the wave of secularization in the 60s and 70s are now pathetic old fools tilting at theological windmills. A turtleneck-wearing woman who calls herself Sister Terry and lives in an apartment complex has no more moral authority than my friendly 20-something bank teller.

  • Kevin_B

    I remember from the education I had attending a catholic school (not that I am one though, admittedly) was that giving to charity and helping people were considered virtous acts.
    I believe it’s well possible that Ryan personally does give to charity, or that he would approve of that. I’m sure he would help friends or family in need. I don’t really have anything to back this up, but I really think so. Ryan is probably all for charity and helping people. But he just believes that the state should not be first in line to do so, and that stealing money away isn’t helpful.
    I don’t think there is too much wrong with Ryan’s view.

  • Danny Lemieux

    There is nothing in the Christian Bible that says that personal wealth should be forcibly taken away by the State (“Caesar”) to give to others favored by Caesar. In fact, in the Old Testament (Hebrew) Bible, this is referred to as coveting and stealing.

    Secondly, while St. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) does encourage Christians to give of their own to help others, in another passage he warns specifically against giving to those not willing to work for their own keep. Conveniently, Liberal/Left “Liberation theology” Christians overlook this passage from 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10.

    ” In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching[a] you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

    Ooops! Sounds like a call for major welfare reform to me. Especially when the safety net already covers food, shelter and basic healthcare…not to mention government supported cell phone and prophylactic services.

  • Old Buckeye

    The peace and justice crowd in the Catholic church has redefined things back to the ’60s. Justice to them is welfare.
    Meanwhile, if they bothered to open the Catechism or listen to some of the encyclicals of the popes, they would understand that subsidiarity is a cornerstone of providing for those in need. That is, the best way to give is where an individual helps an individual. That allows the most human compassion and connection. The next best is for the family unit to help, then the church community and on up the ladder until the FINAL point of help ought to be the largest govt. entity because it allows for no compassion, no human interaction, no generosity of spirit.

  • Old Buckeye

    P.S. Not all Catholics buy into the peace and justice schtick.

  • Mike Devx

    I grew up Catholic and went to parochial schools (some classes taught by nuns in full habits) for 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th grades.

    Everything I was taught then, and everything I read as an adult on Catholicism and the New Testament indicates it is a morally right thing to do to provide charity for the suffering and the poor.

    NOTHING that I have ever read indicate that it is morally right for the government to seize taxpayer money for doing the same thing.  The difference between charity and force is a truly massive difference.  If you do want to find a justification for the government forcing taxpayers – taking their money by force – to pay these proceeds to the suffering and the poor, you will not find it in the New Testament.  You won’t find it in Jesus’ teachings, nor in any of his parables.  It’s not there.

    There may be some good reasons for government taxation to provide for the poor and the suffering.  Catholic doctrine is not it.  Others have obliquely pointed out the studies that conclusively show that conservative communities give FAR MORE per person to charity for the suffering and the poor than liberal communities do.  And yet we all pay the same taxes for the same government policies doing the same, don’t we?  This should be pointed out more often, because it’s an absolute truth.

    Maybe you could say that liberals more often live in higher tax states and therefore they are already “contributing” via taxes, and that that is the reason they don’t feel the need to provide more via charity.  But I don’t think, when you look at the numbers, even accounting for higher taxes explains the difference.


  • Michael Adams

    The Democrats love helping the poor.  That’s why they adopt policies that produce so many of them.
    Seriously, the administrative budget for the SNAP program, just to choose one example, is seventy eight percent of the total, leaving only twenty two percent for actual largess. The Better Business Bureau maintains a list of suspect charities that spend such large portions of their collections on administration.
    A few years ago the Texas Legislature passed a law that required the Welfare programs  to adopt an administrative system similar to what had already succeeded, very well, too, in the Unemployment Comp program.  Applicants could apply on line, or by telephone. They expected a slightly higher fraud rate, which would be off-set by huge administrative savings.  State employee unions and “help the poor” church groups led the outcry against this atrocity. However, keep in mind that that seventy eight percent is extracted from capital that, if well-invested, would produce enough economic activity to feed as many as the twenty percent actually served. 
    I strongly suspect that one reason educated people of modest means are so often Republicans is that we are so close to the situation, and see it in fine detail.  If we ourselves do not dip down below the poverty line, we still have friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow parishioners, who do.  We see how small the benefits are, and how elaborate are the offices and numerous  the officials who give out the goodies.
    I realize that eleemosynary endeavors are really a small portion of the government’s budget, although, of late, the Obamanoids have tried to make it seem much larger.  However, this is part of their two-layer lie.  Fiscal responsibility, like not dishing out a half billion to a failing business, is painted as just another example of Republican stinginess, when first, most of the money was not given to the poor, but to cronies, and secondly, what the poor do get is siphoned out of the economy, where it might have reduced poverty in a real way, rather than merely maintaining people in permanent dependency.

  • roylofquist

    Your child needs a life saving operation so is it OK to enter your neighbor’s house and take his money?

    How about if you got the rest of the people on the block to go with you?

    How about if instead of doing it in person you got Big Louie from Detroit to do it?

    What if you give Large Louis a badge?

    Old Buckeye nailed it: subsidiarity. Before the age of government welfare the down and out were cared for by the community. Many of the old line organisations – Knights of Columbus, Masons, Salvation Army, the “animal clubs” (Elks, Lions, etc.) – were formed as benevolent associations. They separated the needy from the indolent. They have devolved to social clubs as the progressives moved on their territory.

    The indolent have inherited the earth. The meek got trampled in the scrum. 

  • pst314

    “Many of the old line organisations – Knights of Columbus, Masons, Salvation Army…were formed as benevolent associations. They separated the needy from the indolent”
    That’s why the sixties Left spent so much time defaming them. Any benevolent organization which was independent or which did not toe the leftist line had to be destroyed.

  • Michael Adams

    pste314, that was also true in the Communist bloc. One of the first goals in the Glasnost era Soviet Union was to legalize charities. The Communists could not stand the competition.  In East Germany, the attempt to put the Lutheran hospitals out of business was met with such opposition that it was never accomplished. The hospitals, and the Church that supported them, were a catalyst of general opposition to the government.

  • pst314

    Michael Adams: So true, so true. It’s almost as if today’s progressives learned everything they know at knees of communists (and fascists.)