The Words of the Anderson Family
The Faith-Charity Initiative and the American Experiment
Gordon L. Anderson, Ph.D.
July 1, 2001
Secretary-General, Professors World Peace Academy International
This is a draft paper which was edited and published in revised form by the World and I Magazine. For final article with notes, refer to the World and I Magazine.
When George Bush became the US President, he immediately set up a liaison with faith-based groups for the purpose of helping religious people to provide social services to the needy. This was one of the first expressions of Bush's "compassionate conservatism"—a way to streamline government while still serving the needs of the poor. His intentions seemed sincere. We expected to hear a protest from the political left, especially from those who favor the welfare state, or view religion as a tool of oppression. Many were surprised when Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and others on the religious right became the most vocal opponents of the plan.
Are these evangelists sore losers? After all, their ministries focus on teaching the word of God, not social services. Many of the more liberal churches and Catholic charities would stand to gain, some already receive federal funds for feeding and sheltering the poor. Are leaders on the religious right bigots threatened by the prospect of their tax dollars going to religions they do not like? Robertson accuses the Unification Church of "brainwashing," and Falwell accuses the Nation of Islam of being a "hate group." Or, are they concerned about the fundamental relationship of church and state in the United States? Clark Morphew, the religion editor of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, argues that despite the noblest of intentions, the faith-charity initiative would lead to government bursars playing favorites, and that the dispensation of government funds would have strings attached which would allow the government to invade or manipulate church finances. In either case, the initiative violates the separation of church and state.
These issues are not easy to sort out because many of the arguments have some legitimacy and because competition for federal funds tends to pit religious groups against one another. In Europe, many religions have their hands tied by governments that play favorites. The state churches do not want other groups to receive funds they now receive. New religions in Germany, France and Russia have suffered bitter persecution in recent years because the big traditional state churches have used their political power to retain their cultural hegemony. This is a far cry from the free expression of religion most Americans cherish. Religious freedom helps keep a culture dynamic and adapt to new challenges, whereas those societies with official religions tend to be more stagnant and backward-looking.
In this article, I want to frame the issue of government supported faith-based charity in the context of the evolution of the roles of religion and freedom in Western Civilization and advocate the formulation of policies that would return social welfare to the lowest possible level in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.
The Complementary Roles of Religion and Freedom
In simple societies, where the world was one undifferentiated whole, there was no division between politics and culture. There was no word for "religion." There were no laws that guaranteed "freedom." The world was an immediate consciousness, derived from sense perception and the teachings of elders of the family, tribe or clan who had some memory of those who lived before. Of course in such simple or "primitive" societies, there is culture, even if undifferentiated, which contains elements we now ascribe to religion.
Unlike most other species, homo sapiens complete much of their neurological development outside the womb, becoming who they are by learning from and adapting to their environment. Family and culture are the second womb for human development. In the words of anthropologist Clifford Geertz,
The apparent fact that the final stages of the biological evolution of man occurred after the initial stages of the growth of culture implies that "basic," "pure," or "unconditioned," human nature, in the sense of the innate constitution of man, is so functionally incomplete as to be unworkable. Tools, hunting, family organization, and later, art, religion, and "science" molded man somatically; and they are, therefore, necessary not merely to his survival but to his existential realization.
Technological Development and Axial Shifts in Culture
Just as human individuals develop, so does human culture. The human consciousness embodied by culture is carried forward by each successive generation. While this process has occasionally suffered setbacks from disaster and war, human consciousness has evolved over the seven millennia of our recorded history.
Philosopher Karl Jaspers noted that our human cultural evolution involved an "axial" shift in consciousness from roughly 800 b.c. to 200 b.c.
The Axial Period ushered in a radically new form of consciousness. Whereas primal consciousness was tribal, Axial consciousness was individual. "Know thyself" became the watchword of Greece; the Upanishads identified the atman, the transcendent center of the self. The Buddha charted the way of individual enlightenment; the Jewish prophets awakened individual moral responsibility. This sense of individual identity, as distinct from the tribe and from nature, is the most characteristic mark of Axial consciousness. From this flow other characteristics: consciousness that is self-reflective, analytic, and that can be applied to nature in the form of scientific theories, to society in the form of social critique, to knowledge in the form of philosophy, to religion in the form of mapping an individual spiritual journey. This self-reflective, analytic, critical consciousness stood in sharp contrast to primal mythic and ritualistic consciousness.
The major world cultural spheres began to emerge from among the primal clan and tribal societies. While Jaspers refers to major figures who openly preached a critical consciousness characteristic of the world's great religions, this axial shift did not simply occur because these leaders arose. It is most likely that these axial teachers and reformers were able to arise because of the prior developments in technology and the rise of the ancient cities and empires from Egypt to Babylon, in which simpler clan societies collided with one another.
We can trace the roots of the Ten Commandments back to the Code of Hammurabi, to the sixth king of the first Babylonian dynasty (2250 b.c.). Under Hammurabi civilization flourished. Individuals and families were quite free to farm their own land and run their own business as long as they did not infringe on the rights of others to do the same. The Code had laws regarding marriage, property rights, murder, violence, theft, taxes, and slavery. When people obeyed the Code, they were protected by the King and allowed to prosper, and Babylon prospered as well. Here we find a very ancient example of a large scale society that prospered when the law was obeyed and relative freedom was enjoyed. Babylon was not a democracy, but the Code of Hammurabi defined clear relations between citizens and the government. Many religious practices were left to families and clans who had their own gods, and families were expected to rear their children to be responsible and law-abiding citizens. We find in this ancient society a combination of personal responsibility and freedom not known in other civilizations two millennia before Christ, and the combination led to prosperity.
Western Civilization and the Development of Freedom
As human religious consciousness has evolved, so has the desire for freedom. But the acquisition of freedom has not been easy. People with power do not easily give it up. It is commonplace to hear the phrase "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." This applies to both religious and political authorities. Most of recorded human history has involved contests of power for the control of land and peoples. No one enjoys being under the yoke of an oppressor, being forced to sacrifice ones own dreams for the sake of another.
Throughout Western history, freedom has advanced through the gradual development of checks and balances on power. In the evolution of human societies, such checks and balances have often come unwittingly or with the great reluctance of those in power. This was true of the Roman Empire, where the Church became a check on the power of the Emperor. In the words of Lord Acton:
Constantine, in adopting [Christian] faith intended neither to abandon his predecessor's scheme of policy, nor to renounce the fascinations of arbitrary authority, but to strengthen his throne with the support of a religion which had astonished the world by its power of resistance; and to obtain that support absolutely and without a drawback he fixed the seat of his government in the East, with a patriarch of his own creation. Nobody warned him that by promoting the Christian religion he was tying one of his hands, and surrendering the prerogative of the Caesars.
The first check on the absolute power of the political rulers in the Roman Empire was the Church. Here we see the differentiation of society into political and religious spheres. It is in the Roman Empire that a term for "religion" developed. In the ancient Roman Empire numerous groups could be found with their various rituals and beliefs referred to as religio. With the assistance of Greek thought, Roman life became more sophisticated. In the first century b.c. Lucretius' poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) welcomed scientific materialism as liberating people from the terror of religio. Cicero, in De Natura Decorum (On the Nature of the Gods), connected the term religio to the divine.
The religious plurality of the so-called "pagan cults" and "barbarian hordes" in the Roman Empire made it difficult to govern. Lactantius used the terms vera religio and falsa religio to express the belief that Christian worship is true and other forms false. The union of church and state was seen as the only way to govern the empire, and most "pagans" were already rapidly being converted. Christianity, which had for nearly four centuries relied on religious freedom, reversed its position and became the official religion of the Roman Empire. St. Augustine's City of God, spelled out a relationship between two powers, the sacred and the secular, or the Church and the Emperor. The domain of the Church was moral and spiritual, while the domain of the Emperor was temporal and political. Each had a legitimate domain and appeal could be made by one to check misuse of power by the other. But the lack of religious and intellectual freedom led to "Dark Ages."
Developments in the Holy Roman Empire were slow and often retrograde. While the relationship between spiritual and temporal authorities was, at least in theory, a check on the power of one by the other, each power, within its own domain was absolute and could be ruthless. The crusades and inquisitions symbolize how the use of a political force behind the moral authority of a "true" religion against the "false" one could cause innocent heads to roll and a river of blood to flow in the Temple of Jerusalem.
The Magna Carta: The Method of Feudal Lords to Check the Power of the King
In England, the absolute power of the monarchy was opposed by other feudal lords who rebelled at taxes levied from their districts and soldiers being drafted from their men to fight petty wars or interests of the king. "No taxation without representation" became a slogan among the feudal barons. On June 15, 1215, King John set his seal on a document which evolved into the symbol of the primacy of the constitution over the king in the British Parliament.
The Rise of the Merchant Class as a Check on Feudal Power
The rise of the merchant class and towns in Europe following the Crusades also served as a check on the power of the feudal landholders. Migrations of people went from the country to the towns; and there was no room for the government of towns in the feudal machinery. According to Lord Acton:
"When men found a way of earning a livelihood without depending for it on the good will of the class that owned the land, the landowner lost much of his importance, and it began to pass to the possessors of moveable wealth. The townspeople not only made themselves free from the control of prelates and barons, but endeavoured to obtain for their own class and interest the command of the state."
The fourteenth century was filled with a struggle between various forms of democracy and feudalism. Many free cities arose along the Rhine, in central Germany, and Belgium. Their governments were experimental and often impracticable, failing to serve the suffering poor. Insurrections were quelled by the armies of the monarchs who reasserted their authority. In the Middle Ages forms of representative government, unknown in the first millennium a.d., were almost universal.
The Reformation: A Check on the Absolute Power of the Church
Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a religious reformer who began to loosen the monopoly of the papacy over religious life in the West. His protest against the papacy led to the establishment of an independent church in Saxony. About the same time, Henry VIII in England, declared the Church of England free from the Church of Rome. John Calvin, in Geneva, carried on a reformation there. Each of these divisions led to religious denominations that were state churches. In 1568 the Netherlands instituted religious freedom after the revolt led by Prince William of Orange. But a real flowering of both religious and political freedom had to wait for the social experiment which took place in America.
The Lively Experiment in the United States
Two factors were required for the American experiment to work. First, the people had to be self-sufficient and have a general respect for the law, and, second, adequate checks and balances had to be put into place to prevent new tyrannies from arising, or when they did, the people needed to have the means to put an end to them.
Self-sufficiency of the people
Colonial America was made up of the self-sufficient people a democracy needed. Early settlers risked great hardship in order to create new lives for themselves. Many had fled some form of oppression in Europe. These immigrants cared for themselves on readily available land, or brought with them the means to establish their own business in America. The Puritan way of life was a rigorous form of Protestantism which promoted self-reliance. Early America did not have much of a welfare class. It was a land for the self-sufficient. Those who were timid or dependent on others remained in Europe.
Aristotle wrote 2,500 years ago that democracies work best among agricultural and pastoral people, because they are capable of maintaining themselves. He argued that where people are hirelings or laborers, dependent upon others, or gathered in mobs in cities, democracies will not work. The problem for such populations is that the majority will pass laws to maintain themselves at the expense of the few who are productive and successful. Thomas Jefferson must have read Aristotle, among other political theorists, for in a letter to James Madison in 1778 he wrote,
"I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe."
Religion played a more important role than Jefferson had considered; it served as a basis for responsible and independent action even after the people began to crowd into cities and work in industries. The Protestant work ethic, which by the nineteenth century had become the "American work ethic," embodied a type of moral self-governance suited for a republican form of democracy. Luther and Calvin had taught, and the Protestant churches had instilled, the idea that all work was for the glorification of God. The result was a work ethic was tremendous quality and quantity of work, and little need for supervision—a prescription for prosperity. The American belief in personal responsibility and its work ethic were the source of personal self-governance and self-sufficiency required by democracy.
Checks and balances on power
Even those Americans who had not fled tyranny in Europe came to see the imposition of taxes on the colonies under the reign of King George III as unbearable. After the "Boston Tea Party," the old aristocracy supported the pietists in their bid for American independence. The framers of the constitution sought to devise a system of government in which no person and no portion of the government could impose some form of tyranny. Thomas Jefferson wrote "a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth" (italics mine).
The founders of the United States had an unprecedented opportunity to establish their government with many checks and balances on power. Very few citizens wanted to see a central government with power to do anything beyond providing them freedom and providing them physical protection from those who would encroach on that freedom. Hence, the founders created a constitutional and representative democracy, with a tripartite government, the largest body of which was elected by citizens. Systems of majority votes, vetoes, and veto overrides added to the protection of the citizens.
A further development was the practical necessity of establishing religious liberty in the United States because nearly every state was populated by people of a different religion. In his book, The Lively Experiment, Sidney E. Mead noted:
"On the question of religious freedom for all, there were many shades of opinion in these churches, but all were practically unanimous on one point: each wanted freedom for itself. And by this time it had become clear that the only way to get it for themselves was to grant it to all others....
Most of the effectively powerful intellectual, social, and political leaders were rationalists, and these men made sense theoretically out of the actual, practical situation which demanded religious freedom. They gave it tangible form and legal structure. This the churches, each intent on its own freedom, accepted in practice but without reconciling themselves to it intellectually by developing theoretical defenses of religious freedom that were legitimately rooted in their professed theological positions."
The disestablishment of state religions (Massachusetts was the last state to abolish an official state church in 1833) meant that the people had to be persuaded to join churches—they could no longer be coerced. This lead to a flurry of revivals and awakenings previously unknown in Christendom, and ironically to a higher and more active participation in churches than in nations with state churches. This prompted Americans, regardless of religious background, to feel that each person is responsible for his or her own spiritual destiny.
Successes of the American Experiment
In the end of his term as President, Thomas Jefferson said, "We have solved by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to laws." Historian Sidney Mead referred to the pietists and the rationalists as the "heart" and the "head" of the revolution, and said that the American experiment depended upon the cooperation of these two groups, which are traditionally at odds with one another. The pietists educated citizens for personal responsibility and the rationalists established the protection of freedoms and rights necessary for the free exercise of responsibility. When Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in the 1830s he commented:
Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief. I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion—for who can search the human heart?—but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.
Thus, the American experiment shaped by our founders stood on two legs; virtuous, self-sufficient citizens raised in the private sector and freedom guaranteed by constitution of the government. It was endangered if either of these legs collapsed. Over time both of these legs were weakened.
The Social Gospel helped to undercut the American Experiment
A major blow was dealt to the American Experiment by the mainline churches themselves. This occurred through the adoption of state welfare in a movement known as the "Social Gospel." In the 1870s a pastor of the Congregational Church, Washington Gladden, and an economist at Johns Hopkins University, Richard T. Ely, began to promote the view that the state could better handle social welfare than the churches. They made a good case; there were many unchurched people in America that were falling through the social cracks and were not being cared for by the churches.
The Social Gospel arose at a time when Christianity had become "Christocentric" and evangelical. It was easy to convince church leaders that, if the state governments took a major responsibility for social welfare, then the churches could focus their efforts and financial resources on evangelism and the care of souls. The Social Gospel became increasingly popular by the turn of the twentieth century and was canonized in Christianity and the Social Crisis (1907) and A Theology for the Social Gospel (1917) by Walter Rauschenbusch. It became part of the theological landscape of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ, USA, organized during the first decade of the century. The Social Gospel did not concern itself much with the issues of separation of church and state, and the lines became blurred in American consciousness. The mainline churches were pleased to hand the traditional social responsibilities of religion over to the state.
Most American founders did not believe in income taxes. Hoever, income taxes briefly used to pay for the Civil War. Then, in 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution made the income tax a permanent fixture in the US. The amendment gave Congress legal authority to tax income of both individuals and corporations. The establishment of such a taxing authority also reduced the checks and balances on political rulers that had been instituted by the American founders, for it meant that the people in charge of levying taxes (Congress) were the same people who determined their own salaries and office expenses. When the social security tax act was instituted in 1935 a tax of two percent (1 percent paid by the employer and 1 percent withheld from the employee's paycheck) was quite modest, and the benefit of a social safety net was quite widely appreciated.
With the legal right to tax and spend on social welfare established, the US government gradually expanded its bureaucracy and social services from the 1930s to the 1970s. By 1980, it was not uncommon for citizens to be paying more than 50% of their income for some type of tax. What began as modest discomfort had become a noose around the neck. Progressive taxation also virtually wiped out, except in a few cases, the possibility of amassing private fortunes which could be set aside for philanthropy, as had been the case in the nineteenth century. Progressive taxation and the welfare state greatly restrict the personal freedom of individuals to determine their own destiny.
The Social Gospel ultimately contributed to the demise of the influence of mainline churches on American society. There was irony in the fact that no income was left in citizens' pocketbooks for the traditional 10% tithing. Further, with the welfare of citizens firmly in the hands of the government replacing the traditional social role of the churches, many people felt less moral obligation to support churches. By the 1960s, a number of liberal Christian thinkers began to endorse the secularization of religion and the demise of the traditional church. Harvey Cox's controversial 1965 bestseller, The Secular City, was a celebration of "the progressive secularization of the world as the logical outcome of Biblical religion."
The Difficulty of Restoring the Traditional Role of Religion in America
The American Experiment was based on the premise that people will be able to achieve their own happiness if they are given the freedom to do so. Welfare would be handled by families, churches, and communities. No king or government could perfectly identify each person's needs, find the perfect job for each person, prescribe the perfect medical treatment, and levy the perfect amount of taxes from each person. Yet, by the 1960s, a culture had been fashioned, with the encouragement and blessing of established Christian churches, which essentially said that the government is responsible for the welfare of its people. Was this the logical outcome of Biblical Christianity? Did it lead to God's Kingdom on Earth? Are the religious fundamentalists merely throwbacks to a more primitive past? Was the American Experiment flawed and the welfare state necessary? Did the whole evolution of freedom in the West and the increased system of checks and balances on power which had developed go too far? Should it be undone?
The election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980 was, in part, a revolt against the welfare state which had led to double digit inflation and economic stagnation in the United States. Even theologian Michael Novak, trained in the theology of the secular city, began to champion a move toward "democratic capitalism," arguing that the welfare state was choking off the productive incentive for Americans to work. The prosperity which followed the "Reagan revolution" led to a continual effort to shrink the federal government, reduce taxes, and return the role of welfare to the American people and private organizations over the last two decades. The faith-charity initiative of President George W. Bush should be seen as the outcome of this movement.
However, asking the American people to increase private philanthropy when the federal and state taxes are still taking up to 50% of wages is unreasonable. The government is still taking the money formerly available for religious groups and philanthropy. Thus, there is a move to doll out federal funds to do the job. Does this make sense, or is the use of taxation still coercion? Will federal distribution become corrupted? Is it inefficient to tax and redistribute? Is this simply another form of the welfare state masquerading as a religious society? Is it the creation of a new welfare bureaucracy with different players?
Towards the Principle of Subsidiarity
In the early America visited by de Tocqueville, families, churches and towns were organized to look after the needs of community members. Nevertheless, as society became pluralized and many people unchurched, a means to care for the indigent that did not wholly rely on churches needed to be devised. The major problem was that American churches and citizens asked the government to handle the welfare of all citizens. The welfare state became more than a safety net for a few people who fell through the cracks. Social security became viewed as a right for all. This was a contradiction to the philosophy of the American founders.
If we can understand social policy in terms of its ultimate objective, then we can devise strategies to undo the damage that has been done without throwing out the baby with the bath. I believe that ultimate objective should be the principle of subsidiarity. Let's refer to the well-articulated statement by Pope Pius XI on principle of subsidiarity:
It is true, as history clearly shows, that because of changed circumstances much that formerly was performed by small associations can now be accomplished only by larger ones. Nevertheless, it is a fixed and unchangeable principle, most basic in social philosophy, immoveable and unalterable, that, just as it is wrong to take away from individuals what they can accomplish by their own ability and effort and then entrust it to a community, so it is an injury and at the same time both a serious evil and a disturbance of right order to assign to a larger and higher society what can be performed successfully by smaller and lower communities. The reason is that all social activity, of its very power and nature, should supply help [subsidium] to the members of the social body, but may never destroy or absorb them.
The state, then, should leave to these smaller groups the settlement of business and problems of minor importance, which would otherwise greatly distract it. Thus it will carry out with greater freedom, power, and success the tasks belonging to it alone, because it alone is qualified to perform them: directing, watching, stimulating, and restraining, as circumstances suggest or necessity demands. Let those in power, therefore, be convinced that the more faithfully this principle of subsidiary function is followed and a graded hierarchical order exists among the various associations, the greater also will be both social authority and social efficiency, and the happier and more prosperous too will be the condition of the commonwealth.
As larger scale social units grew in the United States, many individuals and smaller social units handed over responsibility for social maintenance to larger units. This was built on the fiction of receiving more by doing less. It was a passive faith that someone else will take care of my needs—dependency. This is not consistent with a post-axial religious impulse, the protestant work ethic, or the present-day teaching of the Catholic church.
For Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Thomas Jefferson, political theorists of three different ages, ultimate success of any political system depends upon the same thing; moral virtue and good education. Leaders of a society must have the well-being of the entire society at heart. Whether the society is organized as a monarchy, an aristocracy, or a polity, the need is the same. For anything to survive and be strong, it must be nourished rather than emptied. This is true of a person, a house, or a nation. The goodness and nobility in people that calls them to serve others cannot be legislated. It cannot be created by freedom alone. The glue that hold a society together is rooted in love. Acts of heroism and personal sacrifice for the well-being of others are required for social cohesion. They derive from ones character, which has been shaped by parents, schools, and general cultural values. Thus larger society depends on smaller society. A state, in principle, is incapable of maintaining itself.
Without citizens of good character, any society will crumble. A danger today is that a government which employs people who cannot govern themselves, cannot govern itself. For example, the government seems incapable of providing the type of fiscal transparency and accounting it requires of its citizens. Further, our government seems incapable of using taxes raised for highways on the highways, or social security taxes for social security. This is a reflection of individual citizens, who are raised by an inadequate culture and, as adults, are yet unable to control themselves. The principle of subsidiarity encourages responsibility at the lower levels of society, and thus the cultivation of the type of citizens that good government requires.
Conclusions Related to Faith-Charity Legislation
What conclusions can be drawn from this discussion regarding the faith-charity legislation proposed by President George W. Bush?
1. That the impulse toward faith-charity legislation and character education are attempts to address actual failings of the liberal welfare state.
The impulse to institute faith-charity legislation and character education in schools is based on the recognition that the welfare state in America became a Leviathan which could no longer maintain itself. The rise of religious conservatism and the decline of liberal Christianity are also indicators that the "secular city" was the acquiescence of religion not its logical outcome.
2. That federally funding faith-based groups would at best be a patch on a flawed system and, at worst, the further growth of the Leviathan.
If the federal government supports the groups with hard dollars for the purpose of performing social welfare, it does little to shrink the size of the federal government's budget. It may increase some amount of efficiency by farming out welfare services, but a bureaucracy will still be required to determine who gets what, corruption and favoritism is inevitable, and tax dollars are still used to pay for the services. This is not placing more responsibility on lower levels of government, nor is it moving the society toward the principle of subsidiarity. Such a system would not be able to make more private money available for freewill tithing and philanthropy. It would not encourage the development of self-sufficient individuals, religious communities, or be consistent with the principle of subsidiarity. One can understand objections to this proposal coming from conservative Christians.
3. That the government can enact legislation that would genuinely encourage the faith-charity initiatives and restore subsidiarity through tax credits and deductions.
Tax credits and deductions, unlike cash handouts, do not encourage the accumulation and redistribution of funds at the federal level. Rather, they can be used to eliminate the collection of taxes for social services already being performed. It is a way to ensure the shrinking of the federal government in proportion to the amount of services it really needs to provide. It is thus a guarantee against favoritism, corruption, and the inefficiency of tax collection and redistribution. It is genuine encouragement for lower level groups to organize, because citizens might find it less expensive to take care of many welfare-related needs at lower social levels. Such legislation would be a bitter pill for any government to adopt, and would need a push from the citizens.
4. That social security and health insurance reforms could also increase subsidiarity and efficiency.
Social security was originally intended to serve as a safety net. Legislation which allows people to opt out, if they prove they are investing a minimum amount for their own retirement, would both make people feel more in control of their own future, as well as provide a guarantee to the government that they would not be indigent in old age. Similarly, legislation which gave tax credits to people who purchased their own health insurance plans would encourage people to establish life-long health insurance plans. Employers could be given some incentives to fund their employees' plans and relieved of a major problem in the health industry–third party funding of health plans that inhibits the normal efficiency of the market.
5. That some government safety net will probably always be necessary, but a huge reduction in the US welfare budget is quite possible.
In a system of government which encourages the principle of subsidiarity, there will always be some people who lose their family, do not belong to a church, or otherwise fall through the cracks. However, given the fact that 95 percent of Chileans opted for private social security when given the opportunity, it would be reasonable to expect that most people in United States, especially younger people, would do the same.
The Christian Churches and the private sector failed, in the nineteenth century, to deliver minimal social welfare to all people. This was unacceptable to the American conscience. However, asking the government to do what individuals, families, churches, and communities could do is an abdication of personal and social responsibility. We discovered that too much reliance on the welfare state is destructive to both the economy and personal freedom. Personal freedom and responsibility lead to greater happiness and social prosperity. However, we must expect that a minimal role of government will be required when people are incapable of helping themselves.
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