Civil Society Vs. the Welfare State
Dave Killion — September 2, 2010
Here in Victoria, it seems that road which is paved with good intentions leads to Pandora Avenue. And who is surprised by this development? Certainly not the libertarians, whose understanding of unintended and perverse consequences is well-developed. To us, this concentration of troubled souls and the drug dealing, public defecation, litter, and rowdiness associated with them is a perfectly predictable outcome of displacing private charity with government welfare.
Private charity is superior because private charity is intimate. It is provided by family, friends, and the community. Support is often conditional on right behaviour, and carefully meted out to provide aid without enabling. Accepting private charity is difficult because the recipient knows the donors, and better understands the sacrifice they make.
Government welfare comes nearly judgement free, with little means testing, and is easier to accept because it comes from strangers with few conditions. No wonder so many are willing to turn away from their friends and family to live on the streets. And it’s not going to get better any time soon, because every solution being pursued right now is just more government meddling, more bureaucrats coming between people who need help and the only people who can give it to them.
This is a problem that will continue until we reject the notion that impersonal bureaucracy is some kind of replacement for private action.
Disclaimer: The articles and opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Libertarian Book Club.