• Being Libertarian Doesn't Mean You Can't Help People

December 11, 2018

Libertarians, to some, are thought to be soulless scrooges that are bereft of human compassion. 

This view is typically a response to the Libertarian stance on government social welfare programs.

The libertarian stance against the State's involvement in social welfare doesn't necessarily equate to a libertarian not wanting to voluntarily help others. 

Recall Bastiat: "Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. ... It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain." 

The association between libertarians and an ill-favor to charity is often credited to Ayn Rand; but even Rand found no philosophical argument against charity in itself. 

"My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue." Ayn Rand 1964

In a discussion I had about charity some time ago, it was mentioned by the individual I was conversing with, that they would not help others because then those you are helping will inevitably become dependent. 

This raises a valid question about what the extent charitable donations should be; in order to not, ultimately, become a disservice to those you are trying to help--by creating an unnecessary dependency situation.

Should this propensity (or possibility), however, be a reason to refuse helping others?

Consider the following: An acquaintance or friend demonstrates a desire to work, however, in order for them to get to the job they require bus fare that they do not possess. 

They're willing to walk 13 miles to the job, such is their determination, but you have a few dollars you can spare; would you give it to them for bus fare or let them walk?

In this situation, I, as a libertarian, would see the benefit of easing some of their suffering, and choose to help them. 

As Rand mentions "if they are worthy of your help."

Socialists, Communists, Leftists, Democrats and even pro-welfare Republicans etc. will inevitably bring up those whom are incapable of helping themselves; the sick, the elderly, the disabled etc.

Choosing not to help a lazy person who is fully capable of working but absolutely refuse to go to work, is understandable, however, I would argue that the sick and elderly are worthy of help, worthy of natural human compassion.

Here is where I believe that voluntarily helping others is not only virtuous, but practical as well (practical beyond the obvious.) 

The more we implement strategy and the idea of voluntarily helping those who actually need help, the less footing the government will have to stand on when arguing for increased taxation and the welfare state-- and the less attractive the concept of "democratic socialism" will be to the rising generations.

There are many things to consider when exploring the concept of charity, but, all in all, I believe philanthropy and voluntarily helping others to be positive.

Helping other people is awesome, when it's voluntary.  




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