Listening to the pundit class I sometimes get confused as to whether we live in a monarchy where there is one supreme leader who has all the power or an oligarchy where a class of folks has all the power. The “special interest” label is bandied about over and over again. The problem with the label is that everyone of us fits into a special interest. Then there is the “establishment”, that is darkly muttered about as a secret government that really runs the government. The idea that things will never change because the government is run by mindless bureaucrats, got a big boost this morning when we sit and watch the Veterans Administration basically say that they can’t do anything to fix a criminal conspiracy that killed a lot of Vets. When administrators spend their time trying to figure out how not to provide services for Vets who need it and who while waiting die, it seems to me that we have a conspiracy.
So think about this for a moment. We have wonderful organizations that spring up to help fill the gaps. There is literally dozens of private organizations that are set up to help Vets. Think of where we would be without the private donations coming in? In one sense these groups get the government off the hook unless they specifically exist to help vets through the bureaucratic nonsense. In some ways it is a double whammy for folks who give to charities – we pay taxes for the government to not do what they said they would, then we turn around and give money to folks to do just those things. My point about all of this is that we live in a polyarchy.
There is a great article in “Imprimus”, a document sent out by Hillsdale College last January. “Charitable Giving and the Fabric of America” by Karl Zinsmeister explains the fact that we really do live in a society that has multiple nodes of power and individual charitable givers are a huge part of our life together. Those gifts that are given to church and local charities are a huge cultural statement and a force driver mostly for good. So when politicians cry out that you are greedy and selfish if you don’t want to pay into another ridiculous program that is unsustainable, unaccountable and frivolous spend a few bucks for a charity that you love.
One more thing to think about. Jesus says that when we “do charity” we should not let our right hand know what our left hand is doing. It is a call to stop the kind of math that makes a gift a transaction a government office would say is based upon a fair share. Our Christian Charity and stewardship is based upon the “self donation of God” as someone has said.
I don’t know who said this but it should be mounted on your refrigerator and embossed on your check book – “A mechanistic computation of the extent of debt that one group of Christians owes another, or what a single Christian owes his congregation is irrelevant. When viewed from the total self sacrifice of Christ it is shameful”.