Give to Charity Before Politics
Political donations matter for who controls the levers of power, but charity is a far better use of dollars.
Normally at this point in election years, the American peoples’ thoughts have turned away from politics and toward holidays spent with family and friends, with charity to those in need.
But 2020 is no normal year.
Recently, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban got some blowback from his progressive friends for offering what, to most Americans, was a worthy suggestion. He tweeted, “For those considering donating to Reps or Dems in the Georgia Senate run-offs, can you please re-consider and donate that money to your local foodbank and organizations that can help those without food or shelter? Let’s put Americans in need above Politics.”
Celebrity singer and Joe Biden endorser John Legend immediately retorted, “I get that politics is annoying and contentious, but the bottom line is that the Senate flipping would be far more impactful than a food bank donation. We need massive stimulus and aid to individuals and small businesses. Government needs to do this. Charity isn’t sufficient.”
In that brief exchange, we see the greatness of, and the dangers to, the foundation of American civil society.
To the Left, there is no aspect of anyone’s life that should not be dictated by politics. Accordingly, even helping the poor, the downtrodden, the undernourished, the homeless, and the otherwise needy they claim to be champions of takes a back seat to amassing political power. In fact, Biden was the epitome of stingy before running for president.
To the more religious, conservative Right, politics is a necessary evil; something that takes time away from our families, our jobs, our churches, and our civic organizations, but is necessary in order to defend and perpetuate our way of life and the freedoms we hold dear.
This dichotomy is evidenced in charitable spending by both sides of the political spectrum. Over and over, studies show religious conservatives give far more to charity than secular progressives, despite conservatives generally having larger families and less disposable income. This is because conservative Christians believe charity is a voluntary obligation of the individual, not the duty of government, which can only give what it has taken by force.
Ironically, a proper understanding of charity would result in smaller government, less contentious politics, and greater care for the poor and the needy.
To illustrate, look at Georgia’s Senate runoffs, which will determine what party controls the Senate. In the 30 days or so since the November 3 election, a staggering $329 million has been spent on political ads in the Peach State.
As noted above, should Democrats win those seats, and Biden become president, Democrats would have complete control of the elected branches of government, dictating who gets how much of the nearly $5 trillion federal budget.
Today, federal spending on means-tested welfare accounts for roughly a quarter of the federal budget, and with the burden of repaying the debt placed on the backs of our children and grandchildren, Congress for decades has shown great “generosity” in divvying out money to the politically favored.
Government-issued “charity” results in perverse outcomes.
In order to issue this “charity,” taxes must be raised on American workers. Higher taxes result in less family income, which results in a reduced ability to provide for the family’s needs. Unable to make ends meet, the family turns to government and its “charitable” welfare programs, which provide food, housing assistance, cellphones, and so forth to those in need. The more people who use those programs, the more taxes are needed to fund them, so taxes must be raised to pay for increases in welfare spending. The more taxes are raised, the less families have to spend on their own needs, and the more they are forced to turn to government.
It’s a vicious cycle that leaves millions of Americans dependent on government, resentful of those providing the welfare, and victims of politicization of welfare payments and massive fraud within the programs.
Contrast government “charity” with private charity, where private donations and the work of volunteers not only makes sure that help goes to those most in need but that the money and resources aren’t eaten up in bureaucratic overhead and fraud.
Additionally, when private charity does take government money, it tends to corrupt and politicize how the charity operates. Not only that, but government “charity” often goes to “nonprofits” like Planned Parenthood ($616M in 2019), whose murderous mission is the ultimate antithesis of charity.
The famous frontiersman Davy Crockett, later a member of Congress, famously opposed an appropriations bill that earmarked money for charity. In opposing the bill, Crockett declared “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.”
How many families could be fed with that $329 million in political ads? How many more could be fed if trillions in tax revenue was returned to the families who earned it to provide for themselves and free them from government dependence?
If this current pandemic has shown us nothing else, it has once again proven that the time of greatest suffering is when the American spirit of giving shines brightest, and we are the most charitable people on Earth.