Governments Protect, Charities Provide

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Last night while I was watching my daughter’s softball game, my almost 9 year-old son was downtown in Atlanta feeding the homeless. That’s him wearing the Superman shirt in the photo above. After I got home from his sister’s game, I was excited to find out about his experience.

He told me how he helped put out drinks for the people and how many cups that were lined up filled with tea. Then he told me about all the people that didn’t have anywhere to live. He talked about the hunger he saw in their eyes and of the gratitude expressed for food to eat.

“They wouldn’t have had supper tonight if we weren’t there.”

That’s some powerful stuff coming from an 8 year old boy.

You’ll frequently hear me (and other libertarians) talking about how charity isn’t the responsibility of government. The dependency people have on their government is saddening. Whether it’s for food, shelter, health care, or medicine, government’s role is not to provide anything.

Government exists to protect – to protect life, liberty, and property. Provision for the needy is the role of churches and charities.

In this case, it was a group from our church. Other groups of coworkers and neighbors come together in similar ways in an effort to help the less fortunate. Doctors donate time and services to care for the sick. Lawyers work pro bono for people who are unable to pay for legal counsel.

These are just a few examples. The willingness of people given an opportunity to help those around them is sobering.

Unfortunately, we see a lot of people’s willingness to help become apathy as government expands to try to care for people in ways best done by churches, friends, and neighbors. When we cut government spending on services that provide, we give people the opportunity – and responsibility – to care for those around them.

For my boy, last night was an eye-opening experience. He wants to go back – soon. And he wants the rest of the family to go, too, so we can have the same opportunity he had to make a difference in the lives of people who needed a warm smile and a full stomach.

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