Robert Knight
Recommend this article

With the fiscal cliff looming, Washington is looking under every rock for new forms of “revenue.”

Nothing is sacred, not even the mortgage and charitable deductions, which some are recasting as “loopholes.” Ending the mortgage deduction when the housing market is finally showing signs of recovery would be like giving a cancer patient strychnine to make him feel better.

Even worse would be ending the charitable deduction, for the simple reason that this deduction encourages private sector benevolence, which the federal government under Barack Obama treats as pesky competition.

As government grows, the private sector wanes, a situation created by the decline of strong families and abetted by progressive programs designed to make families irrelevant.

When it comes to serving the needy, there are two basic approaches. The first, inspired by Jesus Christ and required in the Old Testament, is sacrificial giving of oneself. This has been the cornerstone of American charity since the nation’s founding, and it remains the most effective way to assist the poor.

The diametrically opposite approach is socialism, in which income is forcibly seized and then redistributed to groups and individuals favored by government officials. Socialism is rooted in the formula from Karl Marx—“from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs.”

That’s a fine arrangement when voluntary, such as in families, churches and private charities. However, when imposed by force—and socialism is always accompanied by force since it violates human nature—it is soft tyranny masquerading as charity.

Since the 1930s, with the advent of the New Deal, the federal government, along with local and state governments, has taken on more and more functions that were handled by families and faith-based charities. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society sent this into overdrive, and Barack Obama is intent on nailing America to a third-stage rocket into socialism.

Social Security, the largest government income transfer program, was originally aimed at assisting intact families and widows. Now, it’s an ever-growing tax on employees and employers that has driven a wedge between the generations. How? Because in the past, parents had more children partly to insure that someone would provide for them in their old age.

Recommend this article

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.