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.


CodeSlinger says


You’ve never met a crackhead, have you?

I knew one girl who would tell her father she had no money for baby food. Then she would tell her mother she had no money for diapers. Then she would tell her brother she had no money for baby aspirin. And so on. You get the picture.

She used to brag about having so many different ways to get “her money” out of “their pockets.” She didn’t give a rat’s @ss what sacrifices they made.

But, you see, not all of the money went to buy crack. Some of it was actually used on baby food. So, each time she went back to her family, they kept giving her more, because they never knew which money would be spent on crack and which money would be spent on baby food.

They tried buying her food instead of giving her money. Didn’t help. She sold it.

And there was nothing they could do about it.

You think that private charity can be made conditional, but father, husband and brother have been stripped of the authority they once had to enforce those conditions.

Before you can make private charity work like it used to, you must restore that authority.

— September 3, 2010

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