As I read about the life and death of billionaire Charles Feeney, I could not help but think what America’s welfare-state way of life has done to destroy many people’s faith in freedom.
According to an article in the New York Times, Feeney was “a pioneer of duty-free shops and and investor in technology start-ups.” He became a billionaire. And then he donated all of his $8 billion fortune to charity. He left himself around $2 million.
America’s welfare state way of life is based on the notion that the federal government is needed to force people to be good and caring to others.
That’s the idea, for example, behind Social Security. If there was no Social Security, it is said, there would be seniors dying in the streets. That’s because, they say, people, including children and grandchildren, cannot be trusted with the freedom to decide whether to honor their mother and father or grandparents on a voluntary basis. They must be forced to do so through the coercive apparatus of the Internal Revenue Service and the faceless bureaucracy of the Social Security Administration.
It’s the same, for example, with public schooling. If the state didn’t force parents to herd their children into these governmental institutions, the poor would have no way to have their children educated. The notion that there would be people with money to help out others in need is considered ludicrous.
And then along come people like Charles Feeney, who are more than willing to help out others with money they have accumulated.
Of course, there are countless instances of people helping others on a purely voluntary basis, but welfare-statists give them short shrift.
Consider, for examples, local drives to raise money for college scholarships for poorer students. Or food drives that are sometimes conducted at churches in America. People are more than willing to contribute to such drives.
In fact, guess who funds the churches themselves. No, not the government. The members of the church do that, on a purely voluntary basis, simply because they consider it an important thing that they wish to do.
Imagine if the government had been funding churches for the past 225 years. Imagine if a libertarian came along and suggested that such funding be immediately terminated. Imagine the response: “If we did that, the churches would cease to exist. Do you libertarians honestly believe that people would fund churches all on their own? And where would the poor go to church? Only the rich would have churches.”
Some would say that people don’t have enough money to donate to worthy causes. There is a good reason for that — the federal government’s income tax, which deprives people of an enormously large amount of money that could be saved, donated, invested, or spent. The more people are able to earn and keep, the more they are able to help out others. A society in which people are on the verge of starvation is a society where there is not going to be a large amount of donations to help out others.
Finally, there is something important to note about America’s welfare-state way of life: It does not reflect care and compassion, as welfare-warfare state proponents claim. That’s because care and compassion do not come from the coercive apparatus of the IRS and the faceless bureaucracy of the welfare state. They come only from the willing heart of the individual, who demonstrates such care and compassion by voluntarily helping others.
What we need in America is a revival of faith in freedom, ourselves, others, and God. When that revival comes, the welfare-state way of life will be finished.