Category Archives: Charity

Government monopoly on good deeds

The war on charity, which I’ve written about here and here, continues. This time, the politicians are not fighting against money-based charity, but against good deeds by the public. Just last week, one good Samaritan was ticketed for directing traffic when a traffic light went out and the police failed to act:

When a major traffic light in the area went out Thursday morning, Alan Ehrlich took matters into his own hands, directing traffic at Fair Oaks and Huntington avenues.

“I grabbed a bright orange shirt that I have and a couple of orange safety flags. I took it upon myself to help get motorists through that intersection faster,” said Ehrlich.

Before Ehrlich stepped in, traffic was backed up for more than a mile and it took more than 30 minutes to get through the busy intersection.

Ehrlich said the Sept. 8 incident wasn’t the first and that the light goes out regularly.

“It was just kind of chaos of cars . . . there were stop signs up. But people were challenging each other to get through the intersection,” said Richard Gerrish who works at an office located at the intersection.

Gerrish said Ehrlich cleared up the mess in 10 minutes. After 15 minutes, South Pasadena police say they finally received a call about their newest traffic officer.

Police responded to the scene and told Ehrlich to stop and issued him a ticket, but never stepped into direct traffic themselves.

“I don’t know if this ticket is $50 or $400 dollars. It’s a small price to pay for the greater good,” Ehrlich said.

Alan Ehrlich should be given a medal for helping his community. He should receive the key to city for service to his city. Instead, Mr. Ehrlich receives a fine from the city.

On this tenth anniversary of 9/11–when we memorialize the victims and heroes of that day–in a small way, Mr. Ehrlich is an American hero as well. And the residents of South Pasadena are victims of their government’s incompetence and hunger for power.

The war on charity continues

I’ve previously written about the explicit war on charity. However, the larger war on charity is done through bad policies, not an outright dislike of charity. For example:

City puts a stop to homeless outreach
Couple must have proper permit to continue feeding dozens each day
By BRADLEY OLSON
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Jan. 13, 2011, 11:14PM

Bobby and Amanda Herring spent more than a year providing food to homeless people in downtown Houston every day. They fed them, left behind no trash and doled out warm meals peacefully without a single crime being committed, Bobby Herring said.

That ended two weeks ago when the city shut down their “Feed a Friend” effort for lack of a permit. And city officials say the couple most likely will not be able to obtain one.

“We don’t really know what they want, we just think that they don’t want us down there feeding people,” said Bobby Herring, a Christian rapper who goes by the stage name Tre9.

Anyone serving food for public consumption, whether for the homeless or for sale, must have a permit, said Kathy Barton, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department. To get that permit, the food must be prepared in a certified kitchen with a certified food manager.

The regulations are all the more essential in the case of the homeless, Barton said, because “poor people are the most vulnerable to foodborne illness and also are the least likely to have access to health care.”

Bobby Herring said those rules would preclude them from continuing to feed the 60 to 120 people they assisted nightly for more than a year. The food had been donated from area businesses and prepared in various kitchens by volunteers or by his wife.

I understand the city’s concern that the food the clean and free of foodborne illness. But the most important line above is: “And city officials say the couple most likely will not be able to obtain one.” The story continues:

City officials in the past had considered passing a “public feeding” ordinance that would make it easier for people like the Herrings to comply with rules designed to protect people’s health and well being. The ordinance could involve easier and cheaper permitting processes, she said, although there had not been discussion of the matter for some time.

Obviously, city officials have done nothing to “make it easier” for charitable people to help the poor. Houston has laws to protect the health of the poor, but can’t find the time to pass a law enabling the generous citizens to feed those less fortunate. God willing, this story will push Houston into action.

Making Charity a Crime

Capitalists argue that government spending on welfare, food stamps, housing subsidies, etc. crowds out charities. If government is providing the poor with everything they need, then what is there for charities to do?

Now, the socialists have turned that argument on its head:

SPIEGEL: Forty super wealthy Americans have just announced that they would donate half of their assets, at the very latest after their deaths. As a person who often likes to say that rich people should be asked to contribute more to society, what were your first thoughts?

Krämer: I find the US initiative highly problematic. You can write donations off in your taxes to a large degree in the USA. So the rich make a choice: Would I rather donate or pay taxes? The donors are taking the place of the state. That’s unacceptable.

You got that? Giving money to charity is unacceptable because it is taking the place of the state. But wait, there’s more:

SPIEGEL: But doesn’t the money that is donated serve the common good?

Krämer: It is all just a bad transfer of power from the state to billionaires. So it’s not the state that determines what is good for the people, but rather the rich want to decide. That’s a development that I find really bad. What legitimacy do these people have to decide where massive sums of money will flow?

Understand? Only the government is able to determine what is good for the people and people have no legitimacy to give their own hard-earned money to charity as they see fit.

Next thing you know, acts of charity will be a crime against society.