This immediately reminded me of Jimmy Carter’s awful Our Endangered Values. After thoroughly castigating profit-seeking businesses and lauding the benevolence of big government, his example of successful charity (the Carter Center’s sanitation and health work in Africa) worked because it completely bypassed government and utilized volunteer workers and materials donated by big pharmaceutical companies.

One thing Carter didn’t seem to grasp is that government charity tends to drive out private charity. If I’m paying taxes for “professionals” to take care of social problems, then why should I volunteer my limited time or resources to address the same problems? Haven’t I already paid for someone else to do it? Carter seemed to miss the connection between the rise of the government welfare system and the decline of church- and community-sponsored assistance. You have to be committed to the notion of centralized control to think this is improvement.

Maybe if there were some way to couple particular tax dollars to these kinds of services, then credit those dollars back to individuals who volunteer or donate to private providers of the same services, we could transition back toward this kind of ‘love thy neighbor’ outlook. Arizona and Florida have done this to a limited extent with education; it could be expanded in other areas as well. I think the Republic would be stronger for it.