According to the Kirsch Foundation there was no charitable giving prior to 1900. Instead, alms were given directly to the people in need from other individuals. It wasn't until the rise of the industrial revolution that the idea of charitable foundations began to give funds for hospitals, libraries and museums. Why is that? It is because capitalism had allowed the concentration of wealth and with it the ability to do big things from a single source.
I don't know which is better, or worse. Is it better for each individual to seek out those in need and give of themselves to someone directly, or for the formation of concentrated wealth to seek out opportunities to do bigger things? I suspect that each might operate at the same time. So, the concentration of wealth and therefore the ability to do bigger things while individuals continue to devote resources to individual cases seems one of the best systems. It is a system that rose out of the combination of Christian values and capitalist methods.
Lately, however, it has become the fashion for those who have concentrated wealth unto themselves to use the power of giving to do social engineering. It is called "Venture Philanthropy" and it is designed to create organizations that are self-sustaining to largely support local non-profits. They seek to do community-minded outreach. Decode that and what you get is that they are largely supplying the funding for social engineering. A large part of this process is to attract and utilize government grants and lobby governments to provide or initiate things like "enterprise zones".
I believe everyone ought to give to whatever charity they desire. I endorse any one's right to do whatever they choose with their money, where I have a problem is where these "Venture Philanthropists" use their clout, their economic might, to absorb all of the public funds and direct them toward their particular point of view, or ideology. Public funds are tax dollars, our money, being directed toward organizations and goals that we do not support. Build a hospital, or a library and everyone might be served by that, but if one devises an organization to lobby for, or out-compete, for public funds to support Planned Parenthood, which is really sort a planned abortion clinic, I don't think that is a legitimate use of those tax dollars.
If those funds are designed to limit the marketplace by organizations determined to keep Wal-Mart out of a given area, that also is a poor use of those funds and what is more important is what other good causes are not being served in the process? Small groups do not have the talent available to write a winning grant proposal when the competition is assembled by Bill Gates or Steve Jobs (RIP). Often, a faith-based non-profit cannot get funding from government or any left-wing organization. They are being starved out of effectiveness. It was told to me openly that an organization I supported, were it not faith-based, would have secured funding from a large tech company. I knew the person awarding the funds and knew this to be a fact.
I bring this up only to point out that the war has been being waged on every front imaginable for a long time. There is an assault on religion by the government and now industry. A distancing from Christian religions has been taking place for a long time. It is not politically correct to have a business make considerable donations to any faith-based organization for fear that the radical left will seize upon it as some unholy alliance that needs to be exposed and demonized. (odd that those words so accurately depict the situation)
In Africa, the war is being waged between Christians and Muslims over water. In a given village a Christian organization might drill a well and open it to the public. In another village a Muslim organization might drill a well and the only price to be paid to partake of the water is a conversion to Islam.
In all sectors Christianity is under attack and that might not bother the atheists in my readership, but this new philanthropy is not only directed at Christians, it is directed at the Western culture that made all of this charitable giving possible to begin with. When I see the dolts down at OWS, I see a group of useful idiots. The problem is they are idiots, but useful to those intent on bringing down the Western culture in order to supplant it with whatever form of fascism one chooses to fear.
To me, it is all one in the same. Christianity and the principles behind it drove the expansion of Western culture and while there are some moral bumps along the road, overall, when one looks back along the path of social advancement, it has done a lot more good than bad. Yes, there have been zealots who took the word of God and used it as bludgeon on other societies, but what is largely ignored is the society it encountered. Now, without going into a dissertation on Western culture and the benefits of it to the people and societies it tamed, let me just say that a little research would do one good before pointing to the Inquisition, the conquering of the West and the Salem Witch Trials as the only talking points one has.
The point I am struggling to make here is that as a Constitutionalist I see the enemy to my rights standing proudly to deny them through some concept of Utopian "fairness"; as a Christian I see my religion under attack for no other reason than the beliefs guaranteed to be sacrosanct by that same Constitution; and as a capitalist I see my values under attack by open, ardent
When I see Barack Obama giving an encouraging wink to those willing to destroy the advancements of the Western culture for their own sheer, mindless satisfaction I see how well prepared the opposition is and can only pray that when push comes to shove there are more people willing to support it than is obvious to me now.