Not Yours To Give

The September 26, 2005 issue of Time magazine provided continuing coverage of the relief effort for Hurricane Katrina victims in a story disturbingly entitled How to Spend $1 Billion A Day. Before I even got to the story, however, the most disturbing image of them all was included in the table of contents:

trailers01This is the proverbial picture worth a thousand words, and it speaks volumes about how dysfunctional our government has become. As devastating as Katrina was, and as terrible as the living conditions have become in areas of the Gulf states, there is still absolutely no justification for government to step in and spend one dime of the taxpayer’s money to relieve the suffering.

Charity is not, and cannot be, a legitimate function of government. Charity is, by definition, voluntary. If I showed up at your doorstep and demanded money for Katrina victims at gunpoint, would I be engaged in charitable works? Of course not. Even if I did, in fact, subsequently donate the money to the Red Cross, it doesn’t change the fact that I stole the money from you, and that it was not my money to give. Why is it any different when a government steps in to spend money that does not belong to it?

Our government used to be aware of the limits on its powers. Congressman Davy Crockett knew better than to spend the public’s money on charity. When confronted with the prospect of paying benefits to a Naval officer’s widow, he said, “Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.”

Wake up America! Our government has lost its way, and We The People have fallen asleep at the wheel. As it has been painfully demonstrated, our government is inept at providing relief anyway. If you really want to help disaster victims, donate to the charitable organization of your choice, and then write to your Senators and Representative and implore them to dismantle FEMA, the National Flood Insurance Program, and all of the other disaster handouts. Because until they find the following line in the Constitution, it is not theirs to give.


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