The Separation of Charity and State
by Jacob G. Hornberger
The primary function of the federal government these days is to help out others with federal welfare assistance. The assistance is dispensed in a variety of ways – directly, in the form of a money payment (Social Security); indirectly, by helping people with payments to third parties (Medicare and Medicaid); subsidies to government entities and private organizations (grants to public schools or corporate welfare); and in-kind benefits, such as housing or food. After the recent Hurricane Katrina disaster, federal officials even went so far as to disburse bank debit cards to hurricane victims.
Federal welfare assistance to Americans has become such an ingrained part of our lives that most Americans hardly give it a second thought. While “waste, fraud, and abuse” have become a standard part of the welfare-state lexicon, the answer for many is simply, “The system needs reform.”
Yet when recommended reforms are instituted, “waste, fraud, and abuse” inevitably rear their ugly heads again, which then generates the call for new reforms, perpetuating an endless cycle of problems and reforms.
All this fiddling avoids the central issue: Why not separate charity and the state, in the same manner our ancestors separated church and state? Why not get government totally out of the charity business? I’m suggesting that we do much more than simply repeal all welfare-state programs. I’m suggesting that we go further and elevate our vision to the same level as that of our American ancestors when they separated church and state. I’m suggesting the following amendment to the Constitution: “The federal government shall not provide any subsidy, grant, welfare, aid, loan, or other special privilege to anyone.”
A GREAT idea. We have seen the deleterious effects of federal "welfare". I'd assert that goes for corporations as well. One of the reasons that we are in the fix we are in is that we have removed market discipline from both individuals and corporation.
The market place rewards individuals and corporation who satisfy humna needs. It also severly punishes those that do not by withholding those rewards. When the federal government steals from Peter to pay Paul, Paul is taught that failure is rewarded. Nanny 911! And, Peter is demotivated from doing his best.
Personal experience. In my own consulting business, had an extra contract for work to be done. I had no time to do it. It couldn't be time shifted. I COULD have hired someone to do it, taken all the risks, and taken a cut. I did NOT do it because the rewards would have been mostly to the employee and the government. I figured my profit from all this work was 7%. I decided to read a book instead.
When the federal government bails out companies like Chrysler, we teach corporate executives that they can be "to big to fail".
The 82 year old chairman of Ikea flies coach. He's sending a message.
We need to send DC a message. With tar and feathers! Pitchforks and axes.