December 26, 2012
Charity—helping people who have trouble helping themselves—is a good thing two times over. It’s good for the beneficiary and good for the donor, too. Stephen Post’s fine book, The Hidden Gifts of Helping, reveals that 76 percent of Americans say that helping others is what makes them most happy. Giving money makes us feel good, and helping face-to-face is even better. People say it makes them feel physically healthier. They sleep better.
Private charity is unquestioningly better than government efforts to help people. Government squanders money. Charities sometime squander money, too, but they usually don’t.
Proof of the superiority of private over government efforts is everywhere. Catholic charities do a better job educating children than government—for much less money. New York City’s government left Central Park a dangerous mess. Then a private charity rescued it. But while charity is important, let’s not overlook something more important: Before we can help anyone, we first need something to give. Production precedes donation. Advocates of big government forget this.