If Charity Begins At Home, Where Does It End?

The most enjoyable posts to write (and participate in) are those that meet certain criteria:

1) Everyone, by the simple fact that they are a human being, should have an opinion.

2) Reasonable people can disagree and both sides can be right.

3) Even those that agree in substance can have totally different reasons on how they got there.

4) There is a good chance that more than one can change sides mid thread, by being swayed by a better argument.


With these posts, nothing has to be read prior, no fact collecting is required, each of us has a gut reaction that can be expressed immediately.


So here is the questions(s), how far should the government go (using your tax dollars) in repairing the damages done by tornadoes in the South and Midwest? Is it the government’s obligation, where someone has suffered catastrophic loses to make them whole again?


We have all seen the photos and the videos, our nation has literally had it’s ass handed to it this tornado season. Just from Joplin alone, it looks like something right out of Hiroshima. In Tuscaloosa  it looks like the Eighth Air Force reenacted the Dresden bombings. From Miss. to NY, towns and cities in between have been wiped off the map, with many people lucky enough to have lived through it who came home and found that they have no home. That is the scenario.

Now I have heard many politicians who have toured these ravaged areas make claims similar to ,”We are going to build every one of these homes back, we are going to make every business whole again, we will not abandon you”. In a few days the president will make an appearance, no doubt making similar promises of government backed restitution.


And I’m wondering, what’s the tab for something like this?

Other things to consider. Most people have homeowner’s insurance, some do not, for those that don’t, should they be made whole by the government? Aren’t those that are not insured, did they not take a risk? Wouldn’t you call these types irresponsible? When you reward bad behavior does not this encourage others to duplicate that bad behavior? If, God forbid, my neighborhood gets hit by an earthquake and my block is destroyed. I have homeowners insurance and my neighbor does not, should we both have the same outcomes? And if you answered yes, then what’s the point of being responsible? If I suffer a catastrophic loss in the stock market, put everything I had  in Commodore computers, Betamax, or Joe’s 8 track tape systems, and lost everything, gee, I need to be made whole, I’ve been wiped out cleaner then if a tornado stole my house. If say I own a dry cleaners in Joplin and I am the responsible type and insure my business, my competition down the street is more into profit (and risks) and he has no insurance coverage at all, do we both get our dry cleaners rebuild?

It should come as no surprise that America is the most charitable/giving nation on earth. We always step up when tragedy strikes, and we will do it again here. Organizations like FEMA were created with tax payer dollars for situations just like this, but their job is disaster relief, not undoing the disaster so that it is like it never happened. I’ve plugged the Red Cross before, they do terrific work in this area. Other charities are pouring resources into the tornado areas and you can bet most churches in the land have funds going to help those folks.

We also spend waste so much money on foreign aid to other nations, some still hate our guts all the while cashing our checks. I doubt there are tax payers out there that would moan about any of their tax money going to aid the suffering in this country and to help those truly in need, but where does that help end?

The progressives have always tried to use shame in separating  the wealthy (or those they think can give more) from their purses. They throw out silly comparisons to biblical teachings that we as a society must take care of the poor and the needy, this is true, to a degree. The bible is clear that charity begins at home, that we do have this obligation but it comes from God and not the government, it’s not charity if it is not freely given, taxation is not charity, never has been.

So there is today’s conundrum, how far do you think the government is obligated to go in their aid? On one end would be, the barest of emergency aid, food, shelter, and medicine for a set time, on the other side would be that they make every single victim whole again so that their station in life was exactly as it was before the tornado hit. Anything in between, or would you even extend the parameters.?The government gave a few million dollars to the families of every single 9/11 victim, do you think something similar is in order here?

Comments are closed.

  1. Screamin

    I’ll go ahead and throw out my thoughts…

    I’ll preface this by saying I consider myself to be a small-l libertarian…government should not be there to hold our hand just because someone gives us a black eye. HOWEVER, there’s a big difference between a black eye and a knife to the carotid. Joplin, Tuscaloosa, etc. are the macroscopic equivalent of a knife to the carotid, and that’s why services like EMTs, police and fire exist. Once the bleeding is stopped and the patient is stabilized, a completely different team takes over.

    The point of this tenuous and ill-constructed metaphor is my belief that we can and should help people pick up the pieces…but not rebuild their lives at the cost of my tax dollars. I carry health insurance in case I get sick, dental insurance in case I need a root canal, car insurance in case I get rear-ended, life insurance in case I fall off a mountain and home insurance in case an “Act of God” strikes down my residence. I pay for it out of my own pocket. I pay for the security of knowing that if the worst was to happen, I don’t have to depend on the charity of others to put my life back together.

    If you decide to gamble, it is a foregone conclusion that you might lose. If you decide not to carry insurance because it’s “too expensive”, you clearly believe that it can’t happen to you or it will be less expensive to rebuild your life without a support system to fall back on.

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  2. hist_ed

    The problem is that most people think of the government as some sort of magical money creator. The government never creates wealth; it just takes it from others. So, as we read your post above, we should all add the phrase “with my money” at the appropriate places. So, should the government spend my money to ameliorate natural disasters?

    I’d say the government should spend my money to make sure that people don’t starve to death in the immediate aftermath of a tornado, but that’s it. If you are stupid enough to own a house in a tornado zone and not insure it, don’t come looking to me for a handout to rebuild. I live in the earthquake zone and if a big one hit and my neighbors were out of food or needed a place to stay for a few days I would help them out with that. I wouldn’t mortgage my kids’ future to rebuild a house they didn’t insure.

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  3. Kimpost

    I think that government should provide a safety net, not a free ride. However. the problem with being general like that is that I suspect most people would agree. Disagreements tend to surface when we get into specifics.

    I don’t think that taxpayers should pay millions of dollars to disaster victims, because we feel sorry for them (did that really happen with 9/11 families?).

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  4. loserlame

    I was always taxed heavily, in Germany, to feed the welfare coffers and the homeless, tempest-tossed from abroad, but never took much advantage of the “system” while there. Even with all the safety nets in place, they still had homeless people; folks who didn’t fit into their society.

    I’ve realized that homelessness is always a possibility in the US, regardless of ones work ethic, prompt payments and good intentions, which is why I’m all for the German social state.

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  5. Seattle Outcast

    I think the government should have an extremely limited involvement, primarily because I know what a clusterfuck the government will make of it, how much of the money will be wasted (nearly all of it), and what sort of asshole bureaucrats will show up to “help” people (two of my neighbors are FEMA, and I’m tempted to shoot both of them as priority #1 should a disaster strike locally).

    Also, one of the things that always struck me as just fucking stupid when I lived in tornado country (and previously in hurricane country) is how people can build structures that are incapable of withstanding the most likely natural disaster at all, and then move in to them as if they aren’t living in a death trap. In Seattle all the building codes are geared toward minimizing the effects of earthquakes, if I remember correctly, homes in the Bahamas are all cement, concrete, brick, cinder block, etc in order to withstand hurricanes.

    In tornado alley homes are frequently traditional wood frame (inexpensive to build), and tornadoes just blow them apart as if they were made of tissue paper. I feel sorry for these people, but I also look at them and wonder, “well, what the fuck did you expect to happen?” When I lived in that part of the country I lived in brick homes that might lose the roof, but that was it. Insurance companies are very cognizant of these things – if you live in tornado alley and they won’t insure your home, you should consider changing homes. It’s like these assholes that get federal flood insurance because nobody else will insure their mansions built in a flood zone – fuck ‘em, and let them pay their own tab.

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  6. Manwhore

    There is no point to a government that tells you “go fuck yourself” when tragedy strikes. Having grown up in Florida where hurricanes are a yearly affair, I’ve seen insurance companies fold. Insurance is only insurance as long as they can make money taking your money and never paying out. the minute they have to give you some back they don’t like it.

    I lived through some pretty brutal hurricanes with my great grandmother, and her previous experiences with them included New Orleans flooded and her on the receiving end of malaria. She barely brake the fever and had the rest of us. No first world nation should tell it’s people “I’m charging you 33 percent for this experience and go fuck yourself if you need help.” the idea of insurance is they’re betting your life will be fine. You’re betting them that it won’t. The impetus on them is that they make money on it. What happens when they have to pay out? Do they ever have to?

    This issue is a rock and a hard place. Leave these people to die? Did they all make the right decisions? Should they be punished for them? If we have the capacity to help, should we? What makes this country better?

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  7. JimK

    I guess that’s where I come down too, somewhere near Manwhore. No, we don’t have to rebuild these areas. Yes, they have insurance. Sometimes. Some of them. The only “mistake” anyone made was moving to tornado alley in the first place, but you gotta live somewhere. Helping them makes us decent folk, doesn’t it? Government should be there when it’s not possible or practical for people do do it themselves, as individuals or a community. Roads, defense, and yes, disaster response.

    I’m rather calculating when it comes to shit like this though, so were I in charge somehow, there would be a dollar limit for every person/business/town that asked for assistance. a hard ceiling. Not one penny more. I’d be as fair and as generous as it was feasible to be, but when the limit was reached…that’s it. No mas.

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  8. Seattle Outcast

    the idea of insurance is they’re betting your life will be fine. You’re betting them that it won’t. The impetus on them is that they make money on it. What happens when they have to pay out? Do they ever have to?

    Insurance is one of those things that need regulation (and criminal enforcement when they start getting too stingy), but it appears to me that the regulation they get is all the wrong regulation. It always seems as if the government wants to treat insurance companies as either 1) golden campaign fund contributors or 2) evil fucks that need to die. What they should be doing is making sure that they have enough cash on hand to actually cover their policies should disaster strike. Insuring homes in a hurricane zone and then folding if one actually strikes tells me that the insurance company was irresponsible and people need to go to jail for fraud.

    I can well understand an insurance company forcing people to stick to the letter of their policy – they are in business to make money, not to make everything all better regardless of the policy you purchased. People have unrealistic perceptions of what insurance companies can and should do – first and foremost they are businesses.

    I’ve know people that purchased disaster insurance – the insurance company basically took the cost of rebuilding the home and divided by the likelihood of a disaster happening (every ten years, every 20 years, etc), and tacked on 10%. It’s cheaper to just invest the money yourself, but most people aren’t that disciplined.

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  9. Seattle Outcast

    Personally, I’d be far more generous with tossing money at disaster aid if the government wasn’t already spending billions on it, most of it inefficiently. The government’s current role in things is one of waste, inefficiency, and horrid bureaucrats – instead of trying to run the show, it should be working in the background and letting more efficient organizations actually do most of the work.

    The people I’ve met in FEMA consist of two groups 1) Bureaucrats (evil, incompetent, mentally disturbed) and 2) Volunteers (sane & genuinely interested in helping people). I’d feel much safer in life in the bureaucrats in FEMA were ousted (executed) and the volunteers ran the show.

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  10. loserlame

    Ok, so people lived in tornado territory despite the risks, and didn’t buy insurance for homes not built to withstand the weather in the first place. Lesson learned. Where should they go, other than places where folks care more about folks – traditionally Democratic states?

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  11. JimK

    Where should they go, other than places where folks care more about folks – traditionally Democratic states?

    Wow. That’s one of the dumbest things I have ever seen on the internet, and I was there when the “Ate My Balls” meme began.

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  12. Seattle Outcast

    Where should they go, other than places where folks care more about folks – traditionally Democratic states?

    Democrats are, traditionally, the stingiest motherfuckers on the planet when it comes to actually parting with their own money and resources for those in need of a helping hand. Don’t confuse “taxing others” with “caring about folks”…

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  13. CM

    Also, don’t confuse the willingness or ability of an individual to give money with beliefs about how the resources should be allocated (including tax rates and where it is spent).

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  14. loserlame

    I’ve contacted pro-health care advocate Michael Moore, worth some $20 mil by now, to give me $2000 to cover some, by no means all, of my immediate health care bills.
    It seems I must first prove myself “worthy” of charity, according to him, his fans and handlers. Is that truly how a noble, classless society functions? Doctors did their work as did their staff, too. They deserve to get paid by their patients, not Obamas tax fiddles. The rich deserve, and can afford to be big in any given situation. In fact, they are morally obliged to, say many. Not politically, ethnically, etc but morally and ethically obliged to show compassion.

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  15. loserlame
    Where should they go, other than places where folks care more about folks – traditionally Democratic states?

    JimK said:
    Wow. That’s one of the dumbest things I have ever seen on the internet, and I was there when the “Ate My Balls” meme began.

    There are (still) more links on the Web that prove Dems truly care, than, say, links that prove global warming.

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  16. richtaylor365 *

    The rich deserve, and can afford to be big in any given situation. In fact, they are morally obliged to, say many. Not politically, ethnically, etc but morally and ethically obliged to show compassion.

    I think you should read the post again, apparently you skipped over parts of it.

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  17. JimK

    Have you ever lived in a Democrat stronghold city in America?

    G’head. Name the top 5 cities that are run predominately by Democrats and have been for say…25 years. Then check the crime rates, satisfaction indexes, tax rates and rate of people *leaving* and their average income, then compare that to the people who come to the top 5 and their levels of income.

    I’ll wait while you gather facts that put the lie to your statement.

    Oh. Just for fun, check on the top 5 most violent cities in America for 2010. Take a look at who runs the city councils, who is mayor, and who is elected to state congress from the districts that encompass those cities.

    That’ll be a fun little wake-up call about how much Democrats (citizenry or politicians) “care about people.”

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  18. loserlame

    I guess so. I’m mostly repeating things i’ve read about the virtues of true welfare and charity in overseas, where it abounds.

    The good rich people like Moore can give to the poor without expensive govt “help”

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