The Libertarian Democrat: On generosity

First of all, readers, I would like to wish you a happy and healthy holiday season devoid of thoughts or talks of political or other differences around your tables. Let us not be Libertarians, Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, Greens, etc. . . . this time of the year, let us just be human beings—positive, decent human beings caring about one another, devoid of any agenda.

As of late, I have truly come to realize that the majority of people, regardless of affiliated party, truly believe humans to be inherently good. This observation bolsters my faith in humanity. Further boosting my view of humankind is our intrinsic drive to donate to and volunteer for those in need.

However, I have found a caveat to these ideals, a loophole we leave ourselves without even realizing it, preventing us from doing the most possible good, and feel that I should shine some light on the problem, thus enabling us to truly enact our best gifts upon the world.

If the poor are to wait for completely debt-free people, with new cars full of gas and refrigerators stuffed with groceries, with not a wish in their heads for themselves or their children, to donate—they will be waiting a long, long time.

Like I stated above, most of us truly believe humans to be charitable. We aspire to be generous ourselves, and value members of society that are so. Libertarians especially, but also members of many other parties, subscribe to the notion that if charity were not “forced” upon us by the government in the form of taxation for government programs, welfare, etc., and if we were also not taxed so excessively in other areas, then many of us would have plenty of excess. And thus, (theoretically, though my Libertarian friends speak it as absolute fact), those of us with any extra money would automatically surrender it, wholly and voluntarily, to those in need. I love the idea of this: Steve performs well and gets an unexpected $3,000 raise at his IT job, then immediately turns around and pays the medical bills of a disadvantaged woman unable to pay for her recent $3,000 worth of hospital bills. How amazing this would be—humanitarianism truly working in action at its very best.

But this is not how things tend to happen, and we need to understand why, to enact real change and make a true difference. Truthfully, how many of us (myself included, by the way), upon receiving even an extra twenty dollars unexpectedly, will not then talk ourselves into “needing” it? It could be useful in any number of ways, especially with current gas and grocery prices so high. Upon receiving a windfall of thousands then, how many of us would not suddenly find that the need to pay down our credit card bills or student loans would now usurp our drive to give the money to someone much less fortunate? Suddenly we notice that our car is not as new as it once was, and that we should probably upgrade before any of its mechanics start failing, that we could use a better cell phone, that maybe we should get our kids some new clothes, and the list goes on and on. It’s not a problem of not wanting to give, it’s a problem of carrying around a skewed view of how set up financially we should feasibly be before we are able to start giving freely.

Before we had the money to give, we were moderately fine with our lives as they were, but the more we receive, the more we tend to realize our own “neediness.” Suddenly, our thinking becomes, “I’ll give to the poor when I’m completely out of debt,” which we all know is a rare state of being in the current financial climate for anyone in this, or any other, country. If the poor are to wait for completely debt-free people, with new cars full of gas and refrigerators stuffed with groceries, with not a wish in their heads for themselves or their children, to donate—they will be waiting a long, long time.

This holiday season, and from now on, let’s remember to treat our extras like what they are—extras, that only in the hands of those freezing, starving, or lacking medical attention become true necessities.

  • Ingrid Martinique
  • Ingrid Martinique is a published poet, author, and journalist, and served as a head editor of the newspaper The Voice in Bloomsburg for several years before returning to Scranton.


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