Sharing is Caring

Up through the late 19th century in the United States, there was a sense of community around tragedy.  If your neighbor's house burned down (and this happened quite frequently due to building materials and open flames), all of the neighbors would give of their time and resources to make it right as quickly as possible.  The Amish still treat their neighbor as they would like to be treated.  If you have ever seen a barn raising, you know what I am talking about.

There was a flood along the Mississippi River during President Grover Cleveland's Presidency.  There were no outcries of federal disaster relief to help the flood victims.  While Presidents were sympathetic, the explanation was that constitutionally there was no authority to take public money to assist a limited number of private citizens.  It was expected that the churches and neighbors along with any state assistance would have to be sufficient.  No one claimed they were be left out, it was simply the way things were.  At the start of the 20th Century, things began to change.

With the ascension of Teddy Roosevelt, things changed forever.  In modern terms, TR would be classified as a progressive politician.  Simply put this meant that politicians began using public monies to advance the perceive social needs of the citizens.  It should be noted that while this was the public proclamation of progressives, it served a much darker purpose.  The policies were often heavy handed and resulted in a father and child relationship with the populace.  The policies were erroneously based upon inaccurate economic principles that history has shown as laughably wrong, but the damage had been done.

Now when a natural disaster occurs, you have state governors begging to have their state declared a disaster area and therefore eligible for federal funding.  This public money spending will be explained away as necessary simply because some day it could be you.  What is never discussed is that the federal money comes from the taxes levied on those citizens of the United States, and you never have the opportunity to give approval for giving that money away (even in a representative republic there is supposed to be a concern for all of the constituents).

Allow me to give an example.  We take three ordinary citizens and give them groceries that should last them all for 30 days.  One citizen understands that he cannot eat everything at once.  He rations what he eats every day and plans accordingly.  Another citizen, excited to have so much free food, binges for a day or two and then settles in.  He knows that he will have a little less at the end, but it was worth it for today.  One citizen plans to ration her food, but on day 3 the power goes out and she loses all of her supplies in the freezer and refrigerator.  She is desperate and begs for help from her neighbors.  The citizens with food pool their remaining resources knowing they will have less for the remainder of the month.  By showing compassion to their neighbor, they were acknowledging that although the loss was outside their control it was the right thing to do.  It provided each citizen with a sense of well-being and a feeling that they were not completely alone.

Now let me provide an addition to the previous example.  There are now four citizens that fit the same scenario.  The first three are able to ration their food appropriately.  The fourth citizen throws a party and blows through all of their food on day 1.  With 30 days left in the month this individual is left with no groceries.  So instead of the neighbors banding together and helping their less fortunate neighbor voluntarily, the government comes to each of their houses.  The government takes 50% of their remaining food, tells them they are helping others and proceeds to give the delinquent neighbor more food than before because this citizen obviously need more than others.  This is termed helping the less fortunate, but it removes all of the positive aspects from the act of sharing because it is forced and not voluntary.

When we help others we gain as well.  Part of the allure of volunteering is the satisfied feeling that comes from giving of your own resources.  Sometimes it is nothing more costly than your time.  Often when you believe in the cause you are supporting you will gladly provide monetary resources to help the cause.  There is a great sense of camaraderie with your fellow man, and that is one of the best feelings that no amount of money can ever equal.

Never has any nation been as giving as the United States.  We provide more money in foreign aid than any other country in history.  We provide more social programs for more citizens than ever before, and it never seems to end.  The sad fact is that as a country we spend money as though there is an infinite supply.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.   In the United States today, voluntary charitable giving is far below any other time in history.  Much of this has been explained away as selfish behavior.  We would disagree.  When the government forcibly removes money from your paycheck and calls it charity we all lose.  Remove the forced government funding and less people will give.  Historically contributions to deserving charities will increase and the donation of time by volunteers will go up as well.  This is the past of our United States and could be our future.  Citizens feel that since half of our income is being donated to those in need we simply don't have any left over to give above and beyond this amount.   Charity begins as home.  Charity should be personal.  Simply writing a check does not provide the same personal experience for the giver and does not provide the same level of value to the recipient.  It is a much different thing to plant a garden side-by-side with your neighbor than receiving a check from the federal government to buy groceries.  Both will give you food, but only one will force you to appreciate the value of what you have been given.

If you want to change how things work in this country, you need to start with your own life.  Volunteer your time.  Volunteer your resources.  Demand that your government officials stop giving away your money without your consent.  If they refuse, elect someone else or run yourself.  Remeber what your were taught as a child.  Sharing is caring.