Freedom Vs. Charity

Our political impulses might be boiled down to these two competing priorities: freedom vs. charity.  Our devotion to freedom is to guarantee the unimpeded right to pursue our own lives as we see fit.  Our dedication to charity is to foster the well-being of our communities as much as possible.

The problem is that to absolutely favor freedom is to leave those in need of charity out in the cold, but to exclusively prefer charity is to infringe on the autonomy of others’ freedom.

However, consider this:

When freedom is the priority, private charity can and will still thrive.

When charity is the priority, private freedom always gets circumscribed.




One comment on “Freedom Vs. Charity

  1. I don’t think this as a binary choice.

    Some freedom can and must be circumscribed, if we are to have charity at the level that has any meaning. The history of Europe has plenty of examples of how any time there were no sanctions to avoiding your duty to the sick, weak and poor in your society, they were neglected. Because charity may thrive, but it seems that thriving charity doesn’t necessarily mean adequate relief.

    Take the case of Greek debt crisis. Who was it that required in the negotiations that all private creditors be required to take the “haircut”, as they call it, to their holdings? Private creditors. Because they knew, that if it weren’t mandated, too many would just say, “no thanks, I’ll hold on to 100% of my nominal holding” in hopes that they could, after Greek economy had got on its feet, still get all of it back, with interest. And then, of course, they would get their 100% at a cost to those, who took on the voluntary cut. They were still happy to see almost all of them exchange their bonds to the “cut” ones without coercion, because it would have been a long and expensive process to take a great majority of them to court.

    The lesson to charity: too many say, “I’ve earned every penny, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to support idleness” thus making those, who do give, pay their share, too, if we wish to alleviate suffering. Such is human nature.

    To be sure, some freedom also gets circumscribed any time humans live in a society of any size. Because respecting the rights of others always means you can’t do anything you please. Criminal law tends to always limit one’s freedom, and I don’t hear people saying “let’s eliminate criminal law”. If anything, they’re clamouring for ever tighter laws on a multitude of things.

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