Posts Tagged ‘civil society’
August 8th, 2013 at 6:09 pm
Compassion, Liberal Style
Posted by Print

Protectionism for volunteers? It’s an idea only the left could love. From John K. Ross, writing at Reason:

In the aftermath of the tornado that devastated Joplin in 2011, Remote Area Medical, a Tennessee-based charity that provides free health care, sent its mobile eyeglass laboratory to Missouri to help.

But it wasn’t allowed to assist because Missouri law makes it extremely difficult for doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals to offer free services.

“We did send the vehicle up there,” said RAM founder Stan Brock. “Unfortunately, it was not allowed to do anything because we did not have a Missouri-licensed optometrist and opticians available to do the work.”

Now, the kindhearted amongst you may have assumed (hoped?) as I did upon reading that passage that this was the product of some archaic law that no one knew existed until the situation arose (though even then one would have to question why they bothered enforcing it). Nope. Not only is this active policy, it’s one that the Show-Me State’s governor is intent on protecting:

In May, state legislators passed the Volunteer Health Services Act, which would have allowed health professionals licensed in other states to offer free care in Missouri and also would have relaxed medical malpractice liability for volunteer health workers.

Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill last month, writing that the VHSA “is unnecessary given that Missouri already has a system in place that encourages volunteerism.”

There is political calculation and then there’s intellectual and moral perversion. Saying “Thanks, but we’d prefer you not help the most afflicted amongst us” falls decidedly into the latter category. It’s stories like this that remind us that “compassionate conservatism” is a tautology.

September 10th, 2010 at 9:05 pm
The Capitalist Parable

Here’s another proof that the most insightful thinking on the Right usually comes from those outside the political establishment.  Fr. James Schall, a political science professor at Georgetown University, draws out an important lesson from a familiar story in the Gospel of Matthew.  Known as “The Workers in the Vineyard,” this narrative of Jesus’s shows the owner of the vineyard paying the same daily wage to laborers who worked different amounts of hours.  When the workers who had labored the longest complained to the owner – a symbol of God – he asks the grumblers why they think he shouldn’t be generous.  Per Schall:

Modern theories of society hesitate to allow room for generosity. The owner’s property does not belong to him; it belongs to the community. Here, everyone gets only what is just. No room for generosity is allowed. All ownership that would allow for generosity is unjust. The early workers were deprived of what was rightfully theirs, even if they agreed on a set wage for the day.

In a state built on “rights” and “justice,” we find little room for generosity and abundance. Everything is controlled by the state. No one receives more than others. Envy rules. The capitalist parable, as I call it, when spelled out, deals with God’s ways with us. We can save our souls to the very end, even the worst of us. What is it to me, who have borne the heat of the day? In the divine owner’s contract with us, we must accept one condition, namely, His generosity. Many a just man refuses it. He will work forever only on his own terms.

Conservatives often intone the superior virtue of the private sector in healing the ills of society.  How refreshing to read an interpretation of Scripture that evidences the claim’s truth.

H/T: Jared Watson

August 23rd, 2010 at 5:59 pm
Britain’s ‘Big Society’ Gamble May Be the Best Hope of Shrinking Big Government

Unless you’re looking for it there isn’t much stateside coverage of the political revolution going on in Britain under the country’s Coalition Government.  The stories that to poke through, however, are well worth the read, as is this article in today’s Christian Science Monitor.  A sample:

The final sight – and this is the most difficult to see – is the coalition’s attempt to create a “big society,” or a bolstering of social groups, charities, and entrepreneurs to step in as government withdraws from much of its role. The best example of this altering of Britain’s social fabric are preparations to enlist 16-year-olds into national volunteer service.

The big society is Cameron’s vision, one that assumes people are ready to shed decades of dependency on London and step in to help others.

The concept could be almost as difficult as the biggest of the budget cuts, due in October, which will test the coalition’s finely woven political compromises. And will the private sector be ready to fill the holes left by the cuts.

So, the biggest gamble in the Coalition Government’s plan to reduce the size of England’s central bureaucracy isn’t the “austere” budget reductions or even the controversial referendum to change a century’s worth of election law.  It’s whether Prime Minister David Cameron’s “Big Society” program can inspire enough of the private sector to step into the social services breach created by the receding government.

American conservatives and libertarians have long said that private charity and other civil society institutions are much better at creating a social safety net.  With Britain’s budget forcing policy makers into decisions they would never dream of implementing in good economic times, now is the moment for limited government types to seize the opportunity to deliver a better, more efficient version of the social safety net.  Otherwise, liberals and socialists will be quick to remind voters of all the needs that went unaddressed when government grew “too small.”