Giving Away Other People’s Money

People who favor social welfare programs seem to think that they’re acting out of altruistic impulses, and that those who don’t support these programs are uncharitable. There’s a fundamental difference between altruism and redistribution of wealth by the government. Altruism is characterized by an individual acting of his own free will in the interests of others. No matter how magnanimous your intentions, it isn’t altruistic to give away somebody else’s money. Especially when it’s counter-productive.

Philanthropy is intinsically rewarding because being able to help someone in a meaningful way makes people feel good about themselves. That’s human nature. And that positive reinforcement motivates people to increase their generosity. But having something taken from you is not the same as giving. If, instead of being freely given, the same money is appropriated by the government and allocated indiscriminately to people who may or may not be deserving, rather than making the donor feel good, it makes them feel resentful. That, too, is human nature.

Unlike government agencies, individuals exercise judgement in their philanthropy, whether the recipient is a person, a family, or a charitable organization. Even the most altruistic individual doesn’t head down to the nearest skid row and start handing out money to every junkie and bum on the street who’s “less fortunate” than they are. An individual always wants to see a return on their investment. — Not necessarily a return to themselves, but they want the sense of gratification that comes from knowing their “investment” has effected a positive change, rather than subsidizing the status quo.

When one keeps giving money to someone, and they just keep asking for more, eventually one feels like one is flushing money down the pipe, and stops the cash flow. That’s the right thing to do. People are remarkably resourceful, when they need to be. But, for some people, mitigating that need results in prolonging their dependency. Some people are viscerally motivated by the shame of having to accept charity, and feel compelled to prove they’re worthy by striving to better themselves. Others see it as a way to sustain their current level of subsistence without having to make the effort to change.

When charity rests in the hands of individuals, or private organizations that are not legally bound to treat every applicant the same, the way a recipient deals with the assistance they receive effects a kind of natural selection. People who use it to good advantage are apt to receive more. Those who don’t are not.

However, when the government extracts money from us and gives it to whoever signs up for it, as long as they can prove they aren’t gainfully employed, the principle of natural selection is turned on its head. Those who use it to sustain their status quo keep receiving more, while those who use it to pull themselves up and get ahead get less. The insidious aspect of this is the Pavlovian implication it has. — Government social welfare programs reward the very behavior that natural selection (even benevolent natural selection) would rule against.

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Published in: on January 19, 2008 at 11:44 pm  Comments (22)  
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22 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Are you opposed to all taxes, period, then?

    “allocated indiscriminately to people who may or may not be deserving”
    “Unlike government agencies, individuals exercise judgement in their philanthropy”

    All you’re doing here is showing your obvious bias against govt….govt. can do no good in your judgement then? Have private organizations ever wiped out poverty or even tried to?

    “private organizations that are not legally bound to treat every applicant the same”

    Read that as discriminate…is that OK with you too?

    • No. There are to many organizations for grants; but you have to be classified in a certain group. BULL$*1T!!

  2. I have a bias against government taking over what private organizations are better suited to accomplish.

    Has the government ever wiped out poverty? Do you not think there’s something peculiar about the fact that the poverty rate keeps rising, even as we (taxpayers) keep throwing more and more money at it?

    I don’t approve of discrimination based on race, religion, etc. I heartily approve of discrimination based on laziness, drug abuse, dishonesty, and lack of motivation. Do you disagree with that?

    • I’ve worked hard all my life… I am a 46 year old single woman; who has a patent on an item; which american greetings corp. wants to market… But, I cant get the funds to finish paying for the marketing display. The government wipes me out every fricken year taking more and more in taxes. I can’t afford anything, any more!

  3. Maybe *together* the govt. and the private sector can wipe out poverty. Sound like a novel idea? The idea that we’re throwing good money after bad at the poor is not true IMO.

    Poverty rates ( – there may be better stats out there, but this is a start. Since the Great Society programs of the 1960s, overall poverty is way down…still too high for the richest country on the planet though. The problem is the gap between the rich and the poor is getting increasingly greater, and govt. isn’t helping out that at all IMO.

    Not all poor people are lazy, drug addicts, dishonest, or shiftless…you’re stereotyping & that isn’t fair.

    • If the government would stop giving all our tax money to other countries, we wouldn’t need more taxes and could afford to help our own people.

  4. I never said all poor people were lazy, drug addicts, dishonest, or shiftless. I just said that those who are should not be subsidized.

    Government programs are not allowed to “discriminate” based on those factors, so they hand out money indiscriminately, both to those who should be helped and to those whom it only enables to keep wallowing in their current circumstances (or to continue gaming the system). Private charities can weed out the slackers and gamers and “invest” their money in the people who will benefit most from it.

    • I know a few people myself that play the system. It really pi$$e$ me off. My tax dollars are supporting those lazy drunken, drug addicts. And I can’t even figure out how to get $6950.00. !!!!!!

  5. The Constitution states that it is a purpose of our government to “promote the General Welfare.” It doesn’t say anything about providing it, richest nation or otherwise.

    • Boy-aint that the truth!

  6. Hear! Hear! I hear the voice of reason. That is absolutely correct, Jackson.

  7. Screw the poor then…you must be some of those “compassionate conservatives” that I keep hearing about I guess.

    • The government likes poor people. Easier to keep under their thumbs….. lol

  8. […] presents Giving Away Other People’s Money posted at Government is not your Daddy.. […]

  9. Mr. Guy, you’re not hearing what I’m saying. I’m not suggesting that we let those who fall on hard times die in the streets. People can, and do, help one another. That’s part of human nature. (See my next blog entry.) Families, churches, charitable organizations, and other social institutions help those who need assistance getting back on their feet. And that’s a good thing. My point is that the government does it less effectively, less efficiently, and with less accountability than private charities, churches, and individuals.

  10. “My point is that the government does it less effectively, less efficiently, and with less accountability than private charities, churches, and individuals.”

    That’s your opinion, your entitled to it, and I don’t agree.

  11. i am a poor man my father is expired i did privat jobs but now i free plz send me $100 dollar god bless you thank you
    address:pakistan sindh tando adam juman shah para
    near ahsan khoso post code:68050 tando adam

  12. ????!!???

  13. Looks like spam to me…

  14. altruism

    NotYourDaddy presents Giving Away Other People’s Money posted at Government is not your Daddy..

    The false appeal of altruism is very tempting, and it’s a topic I just don’t cover often enough here at IFAQ

  15. […] presents Giving Away Other People’s Money posted at Government is not your […]

  16. “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not”. “I think myself that we have moe machinery of government than is mecessary, too many paasites living on the labor of the industrious”. Thomas Jefferson. Cattle Rustler

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