Useful and Wasteful Charity?

This Mises blog post makes the argument that, “it is very difficult to actually give away money in ways that actually benefit the people toward whom we are trying to be charitable.” If charity is handed out then people will just keep going for more of the hand out. They then go on to make a ridiculous example:

“You see it every Thanksgiving and Christmas: people lined up for blocks waiting for $0 food, clothing, shelter, toys, etc. The problem is that their time is valuable, and under the right conditions the full value of charitable endeavour will evaporate in the form of people wasting their time waiting around for stuff.”

As usual, the Mises Institute completely ignores the blatant reality around them. Poverty exists from a lack of work, a lack of income and a lack of opportunity. They refuse to acknowledge the correlation between a tremendous loss of full time well paying manufacturing work and the increase of poverty. Technically unemployment did not increase that much (until the recession), these jobs were replaced with part time minimum wage service work. These jobs don’t pay enough to maintain even a low standard of living. Poverty is always a choice to the Mises people and nothing could ever cause people to be in it.

Even the example is ridiculous, taking events that happen once a year which are major disruptions in finances. If they were even serious about making their fraudulent point they would have chosen a daily soup kitchen. But instead they choose an annual time of difficulty for the less fortunate. I don’t know what could be anymore detached from reality.

The post continues by giving an example of “Useful” (as opposed to wasteful) charity. By participating in the Memphis Foundation Fighting Blindness VisionWalk then it’s, “a charitable endeavour is tied to consumption goods and social capital-building”. Basically this poster is saying “social capital-building” is far more effective than just handing out food to starving people. Well in terms of changing the way things are, yes it is. Because this action addresses the CAUSE of the problem of a disadvantage as a result of blindness. The soup kitchen is a band aid on the SYMPTOM of a problem.

The whole argument of this blog post is that a program is more effective than a direct handout. Well of course it is, dealing with a problem is more effective than putting a band aid on a symptom. This “useful charity” is far more useful and effective as a social program. This is what these things were intended for. A social program would be far more efficient and far more effective. Poverty can never be dealt with by charity, capitalism, the system causes it.

Arguing supply and demand to relieve poverty is simple idiocy.