Back in the 1970s and 1980s there was a wonderful Professor of Philosophy at the University of Detroit named Dr. Carlo Grassi. He was one of those teachers who made you want to learn simply by his own excitement about the subject. Perhaps that is why we think of him now; but that is also a point for another time. Right now we want to consider one question which he frequently asked. He didn't really ask it in search of an answer; it was a question meant to provoke thought. And that it did quite well. The question was: as government takes over more and more charitable works and taxes us to pay for them, how responsible does that leave the person for being charitable?
The most obvious inference, and one he readily conceded, is that it lessens the person's obligation to help others. We're biased, perhaps, but we agree with that. The next question becomes, is that a good thing?
Do we really care for people when we ask (and increasingly demand) that someone else, not me, of course, but, in this case, the government, do what we ought to do ourselves? What kind of person will that make us? Will we become more considerate, more, ahem, charitable, in our dealings? Our will we become less truly concerned with others, because someone else should deal with them, another obvious inference in demanding government aid to whomever? Or worse, will we become actually more intolerant of them?
In that last point we can see why the left, who wants more government and less individual responsibility for caring for others, wants to limit trans fats and soda consumption. Now that their ally, the government, is paying for so many things and their taxes are footing the bill, then they have the right to monitor what people eat and drink. In short, in the name of helping the people, they begin to despise and terrorize them in the minutiae of their acts.
This is not to say that all government charitable works are evil. But it is to say that the devil's in the details. Do we like the details when governments being to assert that abortion is okay but you better not let yer kid have a 20 ounce Coke? Should we like them?
The devil is in the details. Chew on that for awhile, and then let's have a serious discussion about charity.