Do we have a duty to help the poor? How do we quantify that?
(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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Re: Do we have a duty to help the poor? How do we quantify that? - by rbjmartin - 02-02-2012, 10:10 PM

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