If, as the Objectivist theory holds, value is that which furthers or prolongs one's life, then is it a value to a person to live off of goods and services offered through charity? The person who seeks charity is technically "working" insofar as he puts forth the effort to find charitable organizations from which to receive or "mooch". Thus, he engages in life-sustaining actions. The donors are not sacrificing anything (as it is a charity) and the recipient is not sacrificing the donors to himself (i.e. not forcing them to give). The recipient receives the values of free, life-prolonging goods/services, and the donor receives the value of happiness: knowing that someone's life is being sustained (the donor basically engages an act of goodwill due to the recognition of another as a human being; from a sense of common identity). What are the fundamental flaws in this argument?
Under this model, it's productive work for an able-bodied beggar to put on tattered clothes and stand at a busy stop-light soliciting hand-outs from generous drivers-by.
What's wrong with this? It's dishonest.
A person does not deserve charity simply because he is willing to ask for it, and willing to seek out suckers willing to give it to him.
Arguably, the person donating to this "charity" doesn't know that he's giving cash to a perfectly able-bodied individual who simply chooses to ask for money rather than do productive work.
If he does know, then he is actually being immoral, supporting a vice, rather than donating to a good cause.
Charity, properly practiced, is not simply the giving away of money to people who are willing to take it from you. Proper charity is the recognition of virtue which is down on luck.
For example, a proper charity would be to support the education of talented inner-city kids who might otherwise fall into street gangs. Or to donate money to help disabled veterans.
It's fully immoral to donate money to people who are able to earn it. And the mere asking for money and offering no value in return is not a process of earning.
Any moral person who finds himself in need of money which he cannot offer value in return for is, as a result, indebted to the charitable. No moral person wants to exist, long-term, in this state of indebtedness. For example, if an inner-city child gets a better education due to charity, then when he grows up and gets a good job as a result, he'll want to pay the charity back to the donor.
Mooching is not a productive occupation.
answered Aug 06 '12 at 11:32
John Paquette ♦