Monday, October 14, 2013

Limits to Charity

Unless you were living under a rock, you know that the EBT (food stamp) card system had a glitch this week.  A huge amount of energy was expended by the people who were not able to pay for their groceries.  Claims of genocide and racism were bandied about.

This seems to be a good time to take a look at what might be the limits to charity.

My reading of the Bible suggests that those limits are a day-by-day thing.

The Old Testament is pretty clear that the receiver of the charity is NOT supposed to take more than his immediate need.  The New Testament suggests that it is permissible for the receiver to have enough to make it until sunset.

This makes sense in an economy where spoilage is a concern and where much of the economy was "day labor".  One's fortune could easily pivot on a day's events.

New Testament

Give us today our daily bread;  Matt 6:11
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.  Matt 6:34

Old Testament, responsibilities of the receiver

When you go through your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat as many grapes as you wish, until you are satisfied, but do not put them in your basket.
When you go through your neighbor’s grainfield, you may pluck some of the ears with your hand, but do not put a sickle to your neighbor’s grain.  Deut 23:25-26

Old Testament, responsibilities of the giver

(As a land-owner) When you knock down the fruit of your olive trees, you shall not go over the branches a second time; let what remains be for the alien, the orphan and the widow.

When you pick your grapes, you shall not go over the vineyard a second time; let what remains be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow.  Deut 24:20-21

I see wisdom in holding people's feet to the fire.  There are no guarantees regarding tomorrow.  I see that people become stuck in adolescence when they know their needs will always be met with no reciprocal obligation on their part.

And as a parting thought, the Bible has something to say about infrastructure.

When you are at war with a city and have to lay siege to it for a long time before you capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them. You may eat of them, but you must not cut them down. Are the trees of the field human beings, that they should be included in your siege?
However, those trees which you know are not fruit trees you may destroy. You may cut them down to build siegeworks against the city that is waging war with you, until it falls.  Deut 20:19-20
That is, even in the passion of battle, do not destroy the foundations of production that will take years, decades, even centuries to regenerate.

Can the parallel culture and economy of Multigenerational Welfare be anything other than the destruction of the modern economy's foundation?

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