Some conservatives have wanted to remake conservatism by labeling government welfare programs as compassionate. The call for government compassion continues today because liberals and too many conservatives don’t see the alternative that will help those whose needs aren’t met in the marketplace with gainful employment, affordable housing, etc.
In response, we must first remember that the reason that many people have a hard time making it in the marketplace is because this same call for compassion leads to regulations which drives many people out of the market. One example is minimum wage laws that have put millions of black teenage males out of work, helping drive them to the streets, drugs, and worse. Regulations on lending have similarly reduced access to capital for the poor. And zoning has driven up the cost of housing for rich and poor alike—there is a reason Austin is the most expensive city in Texas to live in.
Still, there will be some folks who won’t be able to make ends meet even if we get the government out of the way of a well-functioning market. What do we do then?
We give. Of ourselves. To charitable organizations, and in person. As Kathleen Hunker ably points out in her commentary, Government Works Against Christmas Giving, charity is the alternative to government compassion, otherwise known as welfare. Yet the government in its compassion is trying to eliminate charity from the picture. Nothing, says the elite, should be allowed to stand in the way of the diktats issuing from enlightened government overseers who know what is best for each of us. Not even charity.
Which brings us to the core issue here. Even beyond the debate about charity versus welfare is the debate over freedom versus tyranny. Freedom breeds charity, while welfare is simply the oppression of the elite, imposing their wills on others under the guise of compassion. And in the process killing the hopes of millions who are trying to escape from poverty and despair.