In the midst of the real suffering experienced by the victims of the tsunami, I marvel at how the U.S. government insists on playing the insufferable game of what "countries" should win the "most charitable" award. It is a farce based on a fraud, flowing from an infelicitous fiction.
First, at the root of the canard, the fiction: this is only the most recent exercise in glorifying the state as a "generous" person. It flows from the demented genius of Thomas Hobbes, whose Leviathan — the state in the form of a mythical u201Cpersonu201D — emerged from Hobbes’s nightmares about freedom in the "state of nature" and its fearful consequences. Plato warned us about what tyrants would do in their waking hours, once they tried to impose their feverish nightmares on their subjects. Hobbes proved him right.
Second, the fraud. Fraud is not merely an element in the tsunami game show, it is the engine. The Leviathan beats its magnificent chest, boastful that "America" is more "charitable" than the United Nations or Qatar. But the entire charade rests on a fraudulent assumption: the charity can be coerced.
In Christendom — meaning the West, for the past 1500 years, in spite of manifest efforts to pervert and to annihilate it — charity is a theological virtue, like faith and hope. It is in essence a gift given freely. If it’s not free, it’s not charity. Mother Teresa made it plain when she responded to someone that her Missionaries of Charity were model social workers. "We are not social workers," she said (paraphrasing here), "we receive Christ in the Eucharist every morning and then go out and find Him all day long in the gutters of Calcutta."
Furthermore, like free exchange in a free market, both the giver and the recipient of charity are grateful and gloriously unforced. "Thank you," says the recipient. "No, thank you," says the Good Samaritan, "for allowing me to serve Christ in you, my brother."
Compare — no, contrast — this with government "charity." On a recent visit to our county welfare office, I saw the blight at the other end of the government "charity" tunnel. I was waiting to interview an official there when a welfare recipient came in, approached the receptionist’s window (which was plated in double-thick, bulletproof glass), and shouted, "Where’s my check!!!" The surly clerk behind the window scarcely looked up from her newspaper. She just shouted, "Siddddown!!"
No love, no thanks, and, certainly, no charity.
Why? Because the source of the funds, the taxpayer, had been forced under the threat of imprisonment to give up his hard-earned money to the Leviathan. The same expropriated funds were used to hire the bureaucrat (who hates her job but longs for the inordinate pension, once again stolen from the taxpayer). The bureaucrat and the welfare recipient live in a milieu where the handout is an "entitlement." Hence, the process breeds an angry and defrauded taxpayer, a smug and selfish bureaucrat, and a resentful and self-righteous welfare recipient.
Needless to say, none of these traits encouraged by the government welfare system even remotely approaches any Christian virtue.
Thus far the fiction and the fraud. Now for the farce.
U.S. government foreign aid represents a devil’s brew cooked up many decades ago, a Frankenstein combining left-wing "humanitarianism" and right-wing "anticommunism." Neither concept could have made it on its own through the congress, and so the bloated two-headed monster has stalked the earth ever since. As Peter Bauer once observed, foreign aid created the "Third World" countries, who had only one thing in common: resentment of America. Playing on American guilt, the dictators and corrupt elites would parade through the halls of international organizations and insist, "our poverty is your fault." And, of course, "we" guilt-ridden Americans would send them millions.
Private agendas, of course, abound. In only one example, a friend on Capitol Hill estimates that Israel alone has received one hundred billion dollars in U.S. foreign aid in the past 50 years.
Manipulation and subterfuge were always central to the foreign aid enterprise. Under the cover of "assistance," however, lurked the ever-present menace of power-lust. There lies the dirty little secret (one of many, alas) about foreign aid. It represents one more familiar fraud, namely, the greed of the usual corporate suspects around the government hot tub whose "services" constitute the warp and woof of countless foreign aid programs. Any time a serious challenge is made to foreign aid, U.S. government luminaries scatter country-wide to induce the corporate "customers" who supply the goods to lobby Congress for this "indispensable" program. After all, they know where their bread is buttered.
This corruption includes not only the agricultural and corporate mega-multinationals, but also the manufacturers of abortifacients and other dangerous pharmaceuticals that ideologues burrowed into the U.S. Agency for International Development always insist on requiring as an indispensable ingredient of every "aid" package they put together for a foreign country. In turn, those countries have entrenched elites who are all too glad to accept such "munificence," since it keeps them in power and keeps down — in terms of both numbers and social advancement — their competition.
Hence, based solely on the record, foreign aid should be called, not "charity," but rather, the "Corrupt Tyrant Preservation Act." Indeed, millions of people around the world have long resented the fact that "America" wants them to stop having children. No wonder they observe the U.S. government’s "generosity" with some skepticism.
So there it is, the fiction, the fraud, and the farce. What we have been observing for the past century is the grim specter of a gargantuan government, grasping at symbols of legitimacy and morality with which to hide the essential corruption of unlimited powerlust. What more appealing fiction than "we the people" — a government fiction, that is, which the founders resoundingly rejected — and a charitable "people" at that. Why, let’s all pat ourselves on the back for being so moral, and, by the way, shouldn’t we be bombing more civilians in Syria and Iran?
Unlimited powerlust is a secular suicide bomber aiming at the heart of every free society. After all, the campaign against God, Christmas, the Passion, the Ten Commandments, and every other residue representing America’s cultural Christianity has not come from Alpha Centauri; it is the inevitable and logical consequence of the Leviathan’s expropriation of religion from, well, religion, and cloaking itself in the vestments of virtue. Hence millions of American schoolchildren each year venerate eternal flames flickering in front of the relics of secular saints; we have "holy-days" for Martin Luther King and presidents, but cannot mention who it is that tree on the South Lawn was once named after. We have the totem of "democracy" carried around the world by secular missionaries, complete with their armed forces, of course.
On reflection, one sees in the past secular century, and especially in George W. Bush, an aping of the successful Christian model: Hernan Cortes and the Conquistadores, with their missionary chaplains close at hand, confronting and conquering the "madman" Moctezuma, who was sacrificing ten thousand victims a day to the bloodthirsty gods Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca on the pyramids of Tenochtitlán.
As He chose Cortes, the story goes, God has chosen "us" to impose His Secular Democratic Will on the Middle East, and then on the world. His Will is that secular "democracy" should replace all hitherto existing historical societies. He has shared with us His power and might so that we might accomplish His ends. On the side, of course, when disaster strikes, we exercise His love through government "charity." We are the most powerful, and the most charitable, country in the world.
Such is the stuff of nightmares. When imposed by those in waking hours by those in power, it is madness. And, as Plato serenely observed, it is tyranny.