Tim Worstall asks:
And what the fuck’s wrong with voluntary collective action rather than State enforced collective action?
Answer: charity presupposes a condition in which some people have stuff which they can do without, and some people lack stuff that they really need. This inequality (which, like all inequalities, is morally objectionable on the face of it) is only sustained by the actions of the capitalist state in enforcing property rights through its monopoly on the legitimate use of force. In a more just world, there would be no need for charity because you would not have a situation in which some people have, whilst others need.
Aside from this obvious point, I honestly don’t see any moral difference between a spontaneous, voluntary urge to do good on the part of certain individuals, and a reflective, truly collective urge to do good as manifest in a legal requirement to provide support to those in need through the existing system of taxation and welfare.
There is however, a practical difference, in the sense that the former option has more failure modes than the latter. If we, as a community of individuals, choose to rely on charity as the means to ensure that those in need do not starve, then there is a greater chance that certain unfortunates will slip through the system, or be denied what they need because they’re ugly, or smell bad, or are for whatever reason thought to be undeserving by the ‘charitable’ individuals left to dispense their support.
Our two problems?
1) The food bank movement is driven by filling in the gaps created by the incompetence (or malevolence, your choice) of that State. So shouting that the State should be doing it all ain’t gonna work, is it?
2) That state doing the charity thing doesn’t change that basic inequality, does it? We’ve still got to go and tax the richer people to provide the funds to feed the poorer. It’s just a different mechanism of taking from those with lots to give to those with little.
Honestly, some people, can’t see the heart of their own arguments.