Do Libertarians Believe in Charity?

Do Libertarians Believe in Charity?

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Although charity is not a tenet of libertarianism--meaning an individual is not required to offer donations to be a libertarian--many libertarians endorse charitable giving.

Libertarians, for the most part, do not support government-run social welfare programs. While they may advocate for the homeless population and the disenfranchised, they fundamentally oppose funding social programs and charitable organizations via taxation.

Dr. Mary Ruwart illustrates in her book Healing Our World: The Compassion of Libertarianism how applied libertarian philosophy can "enrich the poor, protect the environment, deter crime and defuse terrorism."

Subscribing to the "Good Neighbor" policy and the Non-Aggression Principle, Dr. Ruwart argues that the core values of libertarianism, put into practice, will lead to the social optimization endorsed by democratic socialists--through completely voluntary means and without government funding.

Dr. Ruwart's arguments are feasible but are subject to skepticism.

Self-proclaimed libertarian Adam Ozimek, a former contributor to Forbes magazine, argues that the "utopian views" of what the free market can accomplish "lack realism."

Citing the declining condition of the government-funded K-12 public school system, Ozimek asks why private charities haven't stepped in to correct the imbalance and bolster overall performance. Furthermore, he wonders what the state of public schooling in America would look like if it relied exclusively on charitable donations.

There are good-natured and reasoned arguments concerning the shortcomings and potential of charity from both sides of the field. Complex issues such as social welfare require time in the game to reveal more data and reach new solutions.

Ultimately, a libertarian may choose to be charitable or not. Libertarian philosophy gives the individual control to make those decisions for themselves. While charity is virtuous and encouraged, it is not a requirement.


For more information on libertarianism, see our Ultimate Guide to Libertarianism

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