The destruction of virtue


After hurricane Katrina, the local grocery stores had pots where you could contribute funds for the victims. On one occasion, the cashier was clearly disappointed that I didn’t contribute. I explained that then-president Bush had already committed me to pay what I estimated to be about $50,000 into Katrina relief (I being one of those who pays a highly disproportionately unfair share of the tax total). I explained that I fully recognized that my $50k would mostly be wasted and would do little or no good for real victims, but I was far over my commitment threshold on that particular charitable cause.

Under the debatable assumption that charity is a virtue, I obviously cannot claim any. My $50k was extorted, not given voluntarily. At the same time, it is the height of hypocrisy for government officials to feel virtuous when they disperse other people’s coerced funds, no matter what the circumstances of the recipient. Compassionate conservatism, indeed (fortunately a term no longer much heard). And those who piously vote for such officials and such policies ought to be ashamed of themselves.

As to the charities, of course, if private funding dries up, then they become wards of the state. There’s no virtue in begging for funds obtained under duress. Even if some of their activities are in themselves beneficial, it’s hard to argue that these charities are, on balance, doing good.

As with all forms of socialism, the socialization of virtue ultimately destroys virtue.

2 Responses to “The destruction of virtue”

  1. Jacky Hood Says:

    There is another Katrina virtue story that is much more uplifting. A father took his children with him when he returned to a shop a few weeks after the hurricane. He paid for the food they had taken when they were hungry and there was nobody available to accept their money.


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