By JLP | July 16, 2012
I’m reading Burton Folsom, Jr.’s book, *.
Why? Because all I ever remember hearing about FDR was how he moved the country out of the Great Depression. Everything I rememember hearing about FDR was positive. I hope to go into more detail about the book in the future but I wanted to share these thoughts on charity that I found in chapter 6. They are definitely something to think about.
Throughout American history, right from the start, charity had been a state and local function. Civic leaders, local clergy,and private citizens evaluated the legitimacy of people’s need in their communications or counties; churches and other organizations could then provide food, shelter, and clothing to help victims of fires or women abandoned by drunken husbands. Most Americans believed that the face-to-face encounters of givers and receivers of charity benefited both groups. It created just the right amount of uplift and relief, and discouraged laziness and a poor work ethic.
The Founders all saw relief as local and voluntary, and the Constitution gave no federal role for the government in providing charity. james Madison, in defeding the Constitution, observed, “Mo man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because he interest would certainly bias his judgment and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.” In othe rwords, if relief, and other areas, were made functions of the federal government, the process would become politicized and politicians and deadbeats could conspire to trade votes for food. As Madison asked, “What are the different classes of legistlators but advocates and parties to the causes which they determine?”
He goes on…
“…Sometimes, of course, Congress was tempted to play politics with relief. In 1887, for example, several counties in Texas faced a long drought and some farmers lost their crops. Texas politicians helped cajole Congress into granting $10,000 worth of free seeds for these distressed farmers in Texas. After the bill passed the Senate and House, President Grover Cleveland vetoed it. “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constistution,” Cleveland said. Such aid would “deestroy the partitions between proper subjects of the federal and local care and regulation.” He added, “Federal aid, in such cases, encourages the exectations of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character.” As for Texas, Clevland noted, “the friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune.”
Folsom goes on to state that Texas ended up receiving $100,000 in help from volunteer contributions.
Personally, I would like to see us go back to charity-based giving instead of government programs where money is automatically deposited into people’s accounts and there is a detachment from where the money came from. I also want to take the power out of the hands of politicians who dangle freebies in front of potential recipients in order to get votes. Disgusting, if you ask me.