Do we have a duty to help the poor? How do we quantify that?
#11
I read somewhere that we should keep enough money to feed, clothe, shelter, and educate ourselves and those dependent on us, and then put enough away for retirement or emergencies. The rest should go to the poor and the Church.

If you were looking for a number then you could always stick to the traditional tithe. 10% of your income: give 5% to your parish or a traditionalist order, and another 5% to a Catholic charity for the poor.
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#12
(02-02-2012, 06:34 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote:
(02-02-2012, 06:30 PM)cgraye Wrote: OK.  Where I was actually going with this is - if we have a duty to help the poor, does that then translate into a right to that help for the poor?  In other words, does a poor person have the right to have his basic material needs met by someone else?

At first glance, I wouldn't think so. Charity goes beyond justice. We are called to be charitable to all people, but people are not actually owed charity.

Otherwise it wouldn't be charity, would it?
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#13
(02-02-2012, 06:30 PM)cgraye Wrote: OK.  Where I was actually going with this is - if we have a duty to help the poor, does that then translate into a right to that help for the poor?  In other words, does a poor person have the right to have his basic material needs met by someone else?

The poor have a right to basic material needs. Many cannot work for a variety of reasons.
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#14
(02-02-2012, 07:05 PM)StrictCatholicGirl Wrote:
(02-02-2012, 06:30 PM)cgraye Wrote: OK.  Where I was actually going with this is - if we have a duty to help the poor, does that then translate into a right to that help for the poor?  In other words, does a poor person have the right to have his basic material needs met by someone else?

The poor have a right to basic material needs. Many cannot work for a variety of reasons.

No one has a "right" in this sense; you mean, I think, that it's the duty of others to show charity to them. 
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#15
(02-02-2012, 07:04 PM)Micawber Wrote:
(02-02-2012, 06:34 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote:
(02-02-2012, 06:30 PM)cgraye Wrote: OK.  Where I was actually going with this is - if we have a duty to help the poor, does that then translate into a right to that help for the poor?  In other words, does a poor person have the right to have his basic material needs met by someone else?

At first glance, I wouldn't think so. Charity goes beyond justice. We are called to be charitable to all people, but people are not actually owed charity.

Otherwise it wouldn't be charity, would it?

Exactly
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#16
(02-02-2012, 06:38 PM)cgraye Wrote:
(02-02-2012, 06:33 PM)Spooky Wrote: Offhand, I would say no, thinking of Paul (?) saying about those who do not work, do not eat.  I could be wrong.

I was thinking that as well, but wasn't that actually put as those who were not willing to work should not eat?  What if you are willing to work, but no one will hire you?

I was wondering this myself. Noone will hire me, but i'm going stir crazy without labor...or wages.
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#17
(02-02-2012, 08:12 PM)seanipie Wrote:
(02-02-2012, 06:38 PM)cgraye Wrote:
(02-02-2012, 06:33 PM)Spooky Wrote: Offhand, I would say no, thinking of Paul (?) saying about those who do not work, do not eat.  I could be wrong.

I was thinking that as well, but wasn't that actually put as those who were not willing to work should not eat?  What if you are willing to work, but no one will hire you?

I was wondering this myself. Noone will hire me, but i'm going stir crazy without labor...or wages.

Surely he was talking about people who refuse ("do not") to work - not those who are willing. 
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#18
I was kind of thinking about this because a few months back we had a thread about how Aquinas said we were obligated to care for the poor, but the government did not have the right to enforce this.  This kind of bothers me, as elsewhere it seems as though we say that the government should (or at least can) enforce morality.  I have been thinking about these things, and about what constitutes a right, particularly in regard to government subsidized heath care.  Is health care a right?  My instinct is to say no.  Nor is education.  So the government is not justified in redistributing wealth to provide those things.  But would we have the duty to help the poor with those things, assuming their basic needs were met?  Have we failed in our charitable duty if the poorest people are capable of providing food, water, and shelter for themselves, but not education, and instead of paying for their education, we save our money?  And if that is the case, does that then imply that the poor have a right to these things?  It seems our duty to the poor may not necessarily correspond to a right on their part.  So rights may imply duties, but not the other way around?

I don't know.  Something about all this just doesn't fit together.
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#19
(02-02-2012, 09:46 PM)cgraye Wrote: I was kind of thinking about this because a few months back we had a thread about how Aquinas said we were obligated to care for the poor, but the government did not have the right to enforce this.  This kind of bothers me, as elsewhere it seems as though we say that the government should (or at least can) enforce morality.  I have been thinking about these things, and about what constitutes a right, particularly in regard to government subsidized heath care.  Is health care a right?  My instinct is to say no.  Nor is education.  So the government is not justified in redistributing wealth to provide those things.  But would we have the duty to help the poor with those things, assuming their basic needs were met?  Have we failed in our charitable duty if the poorest people are capable of providing food, water, and shelter for themselves, but not education, and instead of paying for their education, we save our money?  And if that is the case, does that then imply that the poor have a right to these things?  It seems our duty to the poor may not necessarily correspond to a right on their part.  So rights may imply duties, but not the other way around?

I don't know.  Something about all this just doesn't fit together.

I appreciate your thoughts on this. I think these are good questions.

Being skeptical of the benevolence of government welfare, I don't think the poor would go uneducated or without healthcare in the absence of government safety nets. Because of the world most of us have grown up in, it's hard for us to imagine what it would be like without these government welfare programs. But from what I understand of the not-so-distant past, private organizations (particularly the Church) were able to meet the needs of the poor now provided by the government. I believe that with the rise of government welfare programs, the faithful have allowed the state to play the role that the Church once played. If there were no welfare system, would we perhaps be more generous ourselves, knowing that our poor neighbors had no one to rely upon for help? Would service-oriented religious orders rise again? Would REAL Catholic hospitals, staffed by religious, make a come-back? Would we volunteer to teach the children of the poor in our spare time? Would our Catholic doctors offer to give free service to the very poor? Ron Paul often talks about how this was standard practice for doctors like himself.

In a way, I think government welfare programs have usurped many of the social roles of the Church. In combination with the liturgical and theological chaos of the last 50 years, I think the effect of government taking on the role of benevolent mother has only served to weaken the influence of the Church as a primary provider of the needs of the poor.
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#20
(02-02-2012, 09:46 PM)cgraye Wrote: I was kind of thinking about this because a few months back we had a thread about how Aquinas said we were obligated to care for the poor, but the government did not have the right to enforce this.  This kind of bothers me, as elsewhere it seems as though we say that the government should (or at least can) enforce morality. 

The government does not have any rights.  

You are obligated to show charity particularly those who are poor (in spirit and otherwise.)  How far you go in this I suppose depends upon your particular ministry for which you've been created - not easy to know.    

The State should not enforce morality per se; the State should perform the functions for which it was duly empowered and no more; one of those is the protection of life from wrongful death.  

Charity cannot be peformed by proxy; Christ implored us to care for the poor, etc - not create massively powerful bureaucracies to feed off the taxpayer while they pretend to help the less fortunate, and in fact create more poverty, etc.  To paraphrase Rep Paul Ryan, nothing ever prescriptively devised by man for the purpose of reducing poverty/misery, etc., comes even remotely close to the success that the market economy and limited government has had in reducing poverty, increasing access to opportunitites, etc.

Communities exist in part (obviously a complicated subject) because people take care of one another; that is the sort of place my grandparents grew up in.  Once you take away that need to take care of one another (introduce a centralized government welfare program etc), you destroy the community.  What did Scrooge say when he was asked about giving to charity?  "Are there no workhouses, poor houses....?"  Etc.  

Quote: I have been thinking about these things, and about what constitutes a right, particularly in regard to government subsidized heath care.  Is health care a right?  My instinct is to say no.  Nor is education. 

By definition they cannot be a right; Marxists/socialists/collectivists have tried to appropriate this sort of language to mean the exact opposite of what it is.  You cannot have a positive "right" to someone else's property.

Quote: So the government is not justified in redistributing wealth to provide those things.  But would we have the duty to help the poor with those things, assuming their basic needs were met?  Have we failed in our charitable duty if the poorest people are capable of providing food, water, and shelter for themselves, but not education, and instead of paying for their education, we save our money?

If we care about the rule of law, the government is only justified in assuming powers that it has actually been granted.  Collecting taxes towards those ends is part of those powers.  However, "redistributing wealth" has no constitutional basis.  

As a matter of charity, we all have to wrestle with ourselves on how far one goes in all this.  Whatever we do we shall be held accountable - but that accountability will include ALL relevant factors, including your own limitations in terms of time, money, etc.  

Much of this doesn't fit together; we have no alternative but to do the best for those around us.  

We should not become like Mrs. Jellyby and worry ourselves to death about some far away tribe while neglecting those right in front of our faces (in her case, her children.)

And we would do well to always keep in mind with O'Connor, that evil (suffering, poverty, etc.) is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be endured.

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