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. 

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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Re: Do we have a duty to help the poor? How do we quantify that? - by Micawber - 02-02-2012, 10:14 PM

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