Thursday, August 27, 2009

Real People, Real Care

The whole health care debate is so raucous that it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. No matter what side you come down on, we can all agree that there is much to dislike. Which is all the more reason to slow down and look at things afresh.

The role of government in this case should not be to take over our responsibilities to take care of ourselves, our families, and one another, but rather to enable the atmosphere, the laws, and incentives that can make that happen. Too many times, people just want the government to "take care of things" for them. This does not engender proper respect for persons, personal accountability, and love for neighbor. What is does promote is a culture of dependency, entitlement, and hostility over higher taxes when the inevitable waste and corruption set in.

Every third Thursday or so, Martha's Table comes to designated spots in Washington DC downtown and feeds the hungry. The Martha's Table mission statement reads:
Martha’s Table’s mission is to help at-risk children, youth, families and individuals in our community improve their lives by providing educational programs, food, clothing, and enrichment opportunities.
Martha's table has a dozen permanent staff and a whole host of people volunteering to feed, clothe, and teach those in need. These are people who are putting their faith in action; these are the kind of programs and ministries that transform people's lives. I can't even think of a government program that was actually transformative on a personal level.

The best part is there are thousands of groups and organizations like Martha's Table that take care of people in their own communities. There is no one-size-fits-all. That is the beauty of it -- it meets the actual needs of actual people and there are real people doing it.

There is no government mandated program for which you get to fill out bureaucratic forms, no rammed down your throat entitlement. The role of good government is to incentivize the private sector into providing more options, make it easier to give and make a difference, through laws and tax credits, not to dictate what the options are. That way we become better citizens and better people by helping one another instead of waiting for "the government" to do it.

Unfortunately, the government is good at taking great ideas and ruining them. That's why they shouldn't be allowed to run anything much beyond the national defense.

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