One of the things that I constantly hear is how we as Americans should do "something" about a person's pet cause, whether that cause is feeding the homeless, foreign aid, bailouts, orphaned animals, disaster relief, or any number of other causes that are considered to be "worthy" for our nation to throw money at. I consistently feel that it is not a legitimate function of government to send public money to charities. That position often ends with me being called names like "mean", "heartless", or worse.
I want you to do a thought exercise: Think of some worthy cause that you think we, as a people, should spend money on. I will pick one: homelessness. Now ask yourself a few simple questions:
How much of your own money do you contribute to feed and house the homeless?
If you have a spare room or couch, how many times have you invited a homeless person to stay in your home?
If you are not willing to donate to the cause that you deem worthy, then how can you morally demand through the use of government force that others do so? If you are reading this, you have probably spent some of your own money on luxuries like internet service or a computer, instead of giving that money to the homeless. How heartless you are! How dare you spend money on frivolities when people are sleeping in cardboard boxes without a meal! You must be heartless and cruel, you greedy bastard. This makes you feel guilty that you buy expensive luxuries when there are so many worthy causes, doesn't it?
There must be a solution to this feeling of guilt that you feel. The solution is so simple! Why don't you just vote to make other people give THEIR money to worthy causes on your behalf? That way, you can still buy those expensive luxury items, and still assuage your guilt. The plan here is that you get the government to take other people's money away, and use THAT money to help your cause.
Of course there are as many worthy causes as there are voters, and what happens is that we eventually have more causes than we do money. At that point, the only way to handle things is to borrow the money. From China. That is a story for another day...