Using Force to Provide Charity

In his essay Essay on Caring, written in 1984, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“A remarkable duality pervades the concept of caring and its current implementation. Force represents the dividing line. Application or refrain from coercion separates the wrongful intrusion into the sanctity of the life of another from the permissible compassionate endeavor. The law ought not impede attempts to aid others or to solve problems where those enterprises occur without compulsion. This should be true where the majority decries the problem as ridiculous or the solution as ill-advised; after all, the crowd often proves ineluctably wrong and, in any event, no human being possesses either the ability or the moral privilege to substitute his judgment for that of another choosing sentient being.

Conversely, no one should employ the legal monopoly of force to compel adherence to, participation in, or compliance with an artifice designed to better another, no matter how well intentioned or meritorious the plan. No individual should be permitted to thrust a decision or shunt responsibility for the consequences of his choice upon another, unwilling human being. Disregard of this salient principle necessarily denies the dignity of that other individual, since moral choice and accountability constitute an essential element in the human condition.

Those who purport to care, then, must submit to a test of means and motive.

The law (rules and orders created and enforced by mankind) should not address the means employed by those who promote compassion as a political or economic discipline except to assure that no individual or entity compels a dissenter to assent to, support or participate in a proposal disagreeable to the latter for any reason.

All too often, those who preach caring, compassion and concern rest their case upon the root of envy: Loathe the rich and trust the poor; take from the evil producer and give to the high- principled but helpless victim of circumstance and oppression. Such caring persons really do not care at all about others: The creators must be plundered, the users must be pandered, by force and violence, by false premises and promises, in order to salve the promoter’s inordinate ego and to effect his flawed view of mankind and the world. In these, the vast majority of instances, one can always count upon the concerned to care—for themselves!”

Read the entire essay here,


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