Monday, December 22, 2008

Taxes and virtue do NOT mix!

According to John LePlante, deep thinker at the Minnesota Free Market Institute:

In this Christmas season, it's important to remember just what "charity" is.

Charity is when you see somebody in need--let's call him Doug--and you, on your own volition, give him cash, groceries, a trip to the doctor's office, a shoveled-out driveway, or what have you.

Mr. LePlante's view of the term is conveniently limited. Spot just put "charity" into a search in the Free Dictionary, and this is what came up:

char·i·ty (chr-t)

n. pl. char·i·ties

1. Provision of help or relief to the poor; almsgiving.

2. Something given to help the needy; alms.

3. An institution, organization, or fund established to help the needy.

4. Benevolence or generosity toward others or toward humanity.

5. Indulgence or forbearance in judging others. See Synonyms at mercy.

6. often Charity Christianity The theological virtue defined as love directed first toward God but also toward oneself and one's neighbors as objects of God's love.

LaPlante thinks that if a government institution assists the poor, it does not count:

The self-interest of the bureaucrat and the politician is no more virtuous than the self-interest of the taxpayer. Unfortunately, each time the bureaucrat and the politician levy a dollar of taxes--cheered on by activist groups--the rest of us lose an opportunity to offer charity to those we see in need.

He's just so mad at the government for squelching his chances to be charitable.

Do you really think that's it, Spotty?

Do you, grasshopper?

Well, no.

The argument does seem a little strained, doesn't it? Here's how LaPlante winds up:

So where's the charity in [government efforts to help the poor]? Where's the altruism? Nowhere to be seen. Everything that happened resulted from self-interest.

In LaPlante's world, not a single "bureaucrat" or "politician" does anything for an altruistic reason, but he does.

Where do we find men like these, Spotty?

Spot doesn't know, grasshopper, he just doesn't know.

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