Many people get into socialist activity because they think that it is the best way to improve the world. However, history has shown, time and time again, that coerced giving is not giving at all, and it actually breeds contempt for true acts of selflessness. This has been shown over and over again in the U.S. by regulations that actually prevent people from helping their neighbors. Take for instance the time when health workers too deer meat donated to the homeless by hunters. It was packaged by a state-approved processor, and no defects were found in the meat. What did the health department do? They destroyed the meat! They poured Clorox on it! What in the world would cause someone to destroy $8,000 of valuable, defect-free meat that was given to the poor straight from the people who hunted it!?
And the end of the article is even better. It says, “The department says it is now working with hunters in ways to donate extra game to homeless shelters.” Oh, that’s great. So what the real problem was wasn’t that they were providing deer meat to the poor, but rather they hadn’t asked the right people permission ahead of time. In addition, the department decided to work with hunters after it destroyed the food. It could have done that before and found a way to keep it. But no, when doing good is a government service, they do not allow anyone to do good without checking with them first.
A recent example comes from Northern California, where an 8th grader got detention for sharing his lunch with a friend. Why? Because the food was brought from home, and therefore, to guard the safety of the student receiving the lunch, the kid had to be thrown in detention. This is ridiculous! This is a simple, easy way for people to learn and practice loving each other. But it is banned.
This brings to mind a book I read a long time ago. It was called Learning True Love: Practicing Buddhism in a Time of War. The book was a first-person account of the Vietnam war by Buddhist nun Sister Chan Kong. While Sister Chan would claim no political affiliation for herself, and the left seemed to love her (at least for a time), I actually think what she practices is basically conservatism. Here are some examples:
- Unlike many modern people who want “universal health care”, Sister Chan actually worked to provide real health care to real people.
- Unlike many modern people who are concerned about jobs, Sister Chan actually worked to create real jobs for real people, and create new income streams and real productivity for the poor, and not makework jobs just to keep people busy. At the end of the day, the people that Sister Chan helped were whole – they didn’t depend on Sister Chan for their daily needs, but instead were able to provide for them themselves.
- Sister Chan worked almost exclusively through volunteer organizations. That is, she never forced anyone to give anything, but instead allowed people to give generously to make a difference in people’s lives.
In addition, you can see the true effect of socialism based on what happened to her organization after the socialists took over. Throughout the book Sister Chan documented lots of egregious problems she had with the Nationalist government. However, all of that paled in comparison to what happened after the socialists took over. She was simply forbidden from helping anyone out at all. All of the fears of what socialism would bring if the North took over actually came true when they did. The introduction of socialism, which is supposed to be for the improvement of the people, especially the lower class, actually prevented anyone who wasn’t government-approved from participating in any help. What happens in such a situation? If people can’t help their neighbor on their own, how are they going to learn to do so? Then, pretty soon, you are overrun with people in the government who don’t actually know how to love their neighbor, so the government becomes directly opposed to helping your neighbor, in the name of helping your neighbor. This happens. Every. Time.
I know a lot of people get into government, government social work, charitable social work, and insurance to help people. Because that is the way modern society is set up, I understand this thinking entirely, and am not opposed to the individual efforts. However, I will make a plea that, in your position, you have as a goal to foster more people to help each other for themselves as individuals, rather than trying to channel every eventuality through the system. Find more ways for people to help each other on a natural, daily, individual basis, and not through organizations. There will always be a need for some organizations and some amount of help through there. However, the organizations should have as their priority the empowerment of the people they help (not their dependence), and the empowerment of other individuals to help their fellow man without going through an intermediary of any sort. I shouldn’t have to check with an expert to validate good works. The government is not God, and should stop acting like it.
Side Note – the parent of the 8th grader said, “By all means the school can teach them math and the arithmetic and physical education, but when it comes to morals and manners and compassion, I believe it needs to start at home with the parent.” I used to think this way, too. However, I’ve come to realize that morals and manners and compassion are an integrated part of learning. The real problem is that the schools are teaching them poorly and incorrectly. This kind of thinking says that manners and morals and compassion are entirely subjective. However, I believe that while they are not coerceable, they are in fact objective and can be taught as such. However, when people like Peter Singer are running ethics departments and heading up journals, the quality of moral education on the ground goes to zero. The problem is not that they are being taught, but that we are teaching bad morality. It’s just the same as if we were teaching bad science or bad math or bad history.
Side Note 2 – this is also one of the evils of insurance (insurance is largely voluntary socialism). Once everyone believes that they should be insured against every calamity, we start having our lives run by insurance agents. In a subject that will probably get its own post soon, the churches are starting to implement anti-family policies because their insurance companies are requiring it. The Churches fear the insurance companies more than they fear God.
UPDATE another case in point. Police stopped people from saving a woman from drowning who was trapped in a car. The police themselves did not help, and the woman died.