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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: Fearless Philosophy Flashback: Generosity With Other People’s Money

Friday, September 02, 2005

Fearless Philosophy Flashback: Generosity With Other People’s Money

In January of this year, I wrote a post titled Generosity With Other People’s Money in the wake of the tsunami in Asia. At the time, my point was that the U.S. government should not send foreign aid for the relief efforts but instead rely on the generosity of the American people. Eight months later, we are faced with another major natural disaster- this time at home. Hurricane Katrina has devastated the South generally but has hit Louisiana the hardest. I have nothing but compassion and empathy for these people. One of our own Life, Liberty, and Property members, Kevin Boyd of the Louisiana Libertarian was likely directly impacted by this storm and we have yet to hear from him since before Katrina attacked New Orleans. We all hope to hear from Kevin soon.

In a disaster of such size and scope hitting our own country, should our government provide aid for its citizens? Beyond the immediate need to rescue those who are currently in danger of losing their lives (some would even argue that this would be an inappropriate use of the federal government), the answer is still no. The mayor of New Orleans has some nerve to suggest that the federal government has not done enough for his city. If government should be involved, is this not the responsibility of the city first to make sure its citizens are safe? This disaster should be of no surprise to anyone who knows anything about the vulnerability New Orleans has to such a disaster. Experts have predicted an event such as this for decades, and still the City of New Orleans took no preventative measures. Should the federal government (the taxpayer) reimburse New Orleans for this dereliction of due diligence? Hell no!

I do however think that the American people are rising to the occasion despite the fact that we are already paying for the relief effort anyway. We of the Libertarian persuasion can sound quite heartless on issues such as these but I am very pleased to report that many within the Life, Liberty, and Property group are part of this national effort of citizens donating their own hard-earned money to help Katrina’s victims. We understand that private citizens do a better job of looking out for those in need than government ever will.

On that note, I present to you the Fearless Philosophy Flashback: Generosity With Other People’s Money to further explain my position on this matter.

Generosity With Other People’s Money
Once again the United States has come to the aid of people in desperate need of assistance; the tsunami disaster is only the latest example. Once again the United States is criticized by foreign diplomats for not contributing enough to help those who need the help. After all, the United States is the wealthiest country in the world therefore; the United States owes more to the relief effort. The sad truth is that not only are these comments coming from the socialist ideologues of Europe and the United Nations, but also from pundits and politicians on the Left and the Right in this country.

The actual amount the U.S. government should contribute to help the victims of the tsunami is $0. For those of you who do not subscribe to the Libertarian philosophy this may sound very cruel and harsh. The reason the U.S. government should not give foreign aid is because it isn’t the governments to give in the first place! Taking money from one person to give to another person, no matter how virtuous the cause, is wrong.

The government has no constitutional authority to spend taxes for any reason other than what is enumerated to the government in Article I Section 8. The wise men who wrote the constitution understood how governments could be generous with other people’s money; when spending someone else’s money, being generous is easy. The government is like a spoiled rich child who takes his parent’s wealth for granted. The child wrecks his new BMW and buys another one with his parent’s money. As a result, the child has no appreciation for the value, the hard work his parents had to put in to earn the money. Let’s suppose the spoiled child wants to do something good with his parent’s money such as feed a couple of hundred hungry people. Though he seems more virtuous in this scenario, the fact remains: it is easier to be generous with his parent’s money. If the parents decide to make their child earn his own money and he still wants to help feed the hungry, he is truly a generous person and the money he spends has value attached to it.

The government is our spoiled child that we have failed to discipline. We have allowed and even asked our child to spend our money for us on things that we (the private sector) could better provide for ourselves. In spite of the fact that the government is contributing our money to the relief efforts in Asia, Americans are willingly giving more. The American people are the most generous people on the earth, contributing over $1 billion beyond what the government has taken from us. This should be applauded; Americans should give to the less fortunate and have proven to do so with little or no convincing. When the government takes from its citizens in the name of charity and virtue, the government is still the thief, not only stealing the citizen's money, but also the joy in helping his common man.

Related posts by others:
Libertarians And Emergencies by Doug of Below the Beltway
Time for the Tough Questions? by Left Brain Female
Behold My Heartlessness by the Heartless Libertarian


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