No. in a free society the wealthy have no obligation to help the poor. the wealthy already have compassion to help the poor through loving acts of charity-like America sending money and rescuers to Haiti earthquake victims. During the financial earthquake of the great Depression, my father couldn’t find a job. A farmer let him pick apples off the ground (not the trees) in his orchard. Dad hitch-hiked 40 miles from Haymarket, Virginia to Washington D.C. to sell apple cider on the sidewalk. that farmer had no obligation to help. he wanted to.
Rush Limbaugh didn’t create his show out of obligation to the unemployed, but his success propelled talk radio into an industry employing thousands. the rich, freely pursuing their own dreams, spending their own money, and building their own mansions, can’t avoid helping the poor.
That the wealthy are obligated to help the poor runs counter to the principle of individual freedom–America’s prime directive. the O.J. Simpson trial taught me about freedom. Enraged that he seemed to get away with murder, I couldn’t accept the verdict until I got that freedom is our highest principle. Therefore, justice must come second.
Why? Freedom guarantees the possibility of justice; if not now, then later. the converse is not true. A totalitarian state like Cuba can have perfect justice, or social justice, but no built-in possibility for individual freedom. and freedom provides the self-sustaining, economic growth that a government controlled economy cannot. Freedom doesn’t obligate redistribution of finite amounts of existing wealth, freedom creates infinite wealth.
As historian Rose Wilder Lane reminds us, George Washington rode to his inauguration in a horse-driven coach. 6,000 years after its invention, that was the best that a totalitarian, socialist world could do with the wheel. but in less than 200 years, the American republic brought unheard of wealth to even the poorest through electricity, washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, telephones, airplanes, radios, TVs, nuclear energy, air conditioning, and computers. Some ideas originated elsewhere, but only here in this free land, did they actually come to market.
Freedom is the source of American exceptionalism. America is only the third free civilization in human history (after the Jews under Abraham, and the Saracens (Muslims) under Muhammad). all other societies were founded on the principle that the state, king, or emperor held total, original power, then granted limited rights to the people, like Britain’s Magna Carta. the free civilizations were founded on the opposite principle: all power originates in the people, who are born with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Free people create their own government, granting it limited powers. They profit directly from the work of their own hand. I’m a writer. I can write any book I want and, if enough people buy it, I make a living from my craft. if I’m successful like Stephen King, I’ll be rich. but if I fail, and become poor, Stephen King is not obligated to give me any of his money. I am obligated to earn my own livelihood somehow. I am free to get a job cleaning Stephen King’s house.
Sure, you’re free, a friend complained, because you were born white to middle-class parents. Poor, black people aren’t free. wrong Justice, provided by anti-discrimination legislation the past 100 years, insures for any citizen the opportunity to go as far as their talent, skill and hard work can take them. Many black American millionaires were born poor, but free-like me. and I was born in a charity ward, not an obligation ward.
The obligatory $ trillion dollar War against Poverty created only misery. It fostered an entitlement mentality, demoralizing people who expected to be provided with a living by rights, instead of by earning it. Economist Friedrich Hayek warns: there’s no viable third way for economic security between liberty and coercion. A society must choose one or the other when establishing the principles that organize their government.
America has chosen liberty over coercion, and charity over obligation. no society flourishes economically or advances the cause of the poor by obligating from each according to his ability and to each according to his need. Such a principle necessitates a controlling, coercive government that stifles the freedom that guarantees the pursuit of happiness that produces economic wealth. the poor in America became better fed, better clothed, and better doctored than any other nation that has ever existed due to our love of freedom, not our obligation to social justice.