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Criticism of charity astonishing

August 11, 2010 - Lee Smith

If you've never had the privilege of being introduced to philosophical and intellectual snobbery, you should read "Philanthropy can have its drawbacks," an opinion piece in Wednesday's (Aug. 11) StarTribune. Author Vernon J. Vander, a Minneapolis attorney, argues that wealth given to charities can be harmful, especially when government has oh-so-many other important uses for it.
I'm serious. This guy does not like giving. Taking is more his flavor.
It's rare that you see such brazen praise for government initiative over private giving. Most people, arguably, realize that giving to charity directly benefits someone or some program. No government bureaucracy gets a cut. And the charitable giver has the satisfaction of knowing that his money is going right to cause he or she supports. What could be better?
Well, a lot, according to the Vanders of the world.
There is a philosophy — and one taken quite seriously by many pointy-heads, I'm afraid — that says charity is wrong because the receiver should not have had to ask for support in the first place, and the giver actually deserves no praise. Hence the appreciation of government, which simply redistributes wealth based on this warped ethic.
At its base, this ethic says that individual freedom of choice is immoral where wealth is concerned. If someone has more than someone else, he or she has a duty to share it. If someone has less, they are entitled to more. The philosopher Ayn Rand criticized this neatly: Anyone with a dollar more than you is a sucker; anyone with a dollar less a victim with a claim on you.
Vander argues: "This country cannot afford to let the rich give away their wealth, putting it beyond the reach of tax collectors." That is an astonishing, open commitment to theft if I ever heard one.


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