Recently, a blog asked the question: Should the government get out of the business of charity and leave that work solely to faith groups?
The conversation was civil. Some answered that government help should be avoided because it's inherently immoral to give people goods they have not worked for. One line of thought went as follows: it damages the recipient to receive something for nothing. We are helping people more to insist they pull themselves up by their own efforts.
As humans, I think we're expected to do many things simultaneously, rather than either/or, so I support both private charity and government help. I also believe that as a civilized country, we're morally obligated to establish an economic baseline so that people don't have to go hungry, naked or homeless. I understand that some will cheat the system, but I accept that as the price of doing the right thing.
On the blog, I asked whether there were not two sets of standards, one for the rich and one for the poor. If receiving money you haven't worked for is morally destructive, what of inheritance? Should young people --or any people--become fabulously wealthy from money they didn't earn? Should we block (tax) inheritance to encourage people to work?
I received this response, which was a polite attempt at discourse.
"Thank you for your comments. I do think it is different when money is passed down from one family member to another. We can hope that there was some teaching/training/modeling about charity and sacrifice going on before the money was passed down. The teaching the government is doing is that there is no accountability to use the help offered and get back on your feet- thus allowing people to become more and more dependant [sic] on the government funds."
What would be a helpful response?