Yesterday I was listening to Bill O’Reilly. I like to listen to/read a variety of opinions– part of being informed. And yes, I realize radio is superficial. I don’t really have the time to read articles during my work hours.
I digress. Anyway, a few weeks ago O’Reilly proposed that the Oil Companies donate 2% of their net profits to a fund that they manage to help people who are having trouble paying for energy. I think that’s a great idea.
A caller posed a a question along the lines of, “How is that any different than windfall profit taxes and redistribution?” O’Reilly’s answer was, “Because it’s voluntary.”
And therein lies everything! O’Reilly doesn’t bill (ha) himself as a “conservative.” Yet what he says sums up my attitude towards charitable giving. I’m a staunch supporter, nigh unto religious-zealot-adherent, of individual liberty. I interpret my faith in such a way that this is a theological issue. Forcing someone to do the right thing really doesn’t have a place in my view of the world.
But something that DOES have a place in my view of the world is people helping people. That is a right thing to do, and I consider myself conservative.
I was speaking with my grandmother a few months ago, and she quoted part of Atlas Shrugged in which John Galt (sp?) delivers a monologue about how he won’t help another or expect another to let him live of off them. The vibe I get from the staunch libertarians that I’ve spoken to is basically “screw you,” if you’re on hard times. As much as I disagree with that viewpoint, holding it is a right given by the free society in which we live.
It’s completely based on faulty logic though. Hardcore libertarianism (again, as I’ve observed it) seems to forget that a person can of their own free will be inclined towards charity. And doing so in no way denies individual freedom, either of the giver or the receiver. While I’d never force another person to do the right thing, I would labor day and night to persuade them to believe that the right thing is the right thing, motivating them to then make the same choice. I call that sort of thing debate and letting the market place of ideas have its place.
But windfall profit taxes? Redistribution of wealth? Tithes and “offerings” as practiced in the Middle Ages? No, no, and no.