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AirBnB Will House Afghan Refugees

The Taliban is consolidating its hold on Afghanistan after 20 years of failed American intervention. Meanwhile, refugees continue to flee in hope of a better life elsewhere. The total numbers could be 400,000 to up to two million refugees. But where the government has continuously and catastrophically failed, charities and generous companies are stepping up. Particularly noteworthy is AirBnB, whose Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky said that AirBnB will house Afghan refugees at no cost.

“Starting today, Airbnb will begin housing 20,000 Afghan refugees globally for free,” Chesky wrote on Twitter. “While we will be paying for these stays, we could not do this without the generosity of our Hosts. If you’re willing to host a refugee family, reach out and I’ll connect you with the right people here to make it happen!”

This is especially interesting since Airbnb has been regularly demonized by everyone from conservatives to socialists, and blamed for everything from rising property prices to gentrification. If the people who think they know what’s best had their way, Airbnb would not exist or would be regulated into obscurity. But the loss wouldn’t have just been the valuable service that Airbnb provides. Without Airbnb, 20,000 refugees would still have no place to live.

AirBnB Will House Afghan Refugees

Granted, housing 20,000 people is helpful, but won’t solve the refugee crisis, let alone the crisis of those who remain in Afghanistan. But if the past 20 years in Afghanistan have taught anything, it should be that the government and those who pretend to know best usually don’t. When the state and its appointed experts try to force their will on society, the results are never good.

When one central authority imposes their will on everyone, people can’t respond to everyday life—let alone to crises—in ways that are appropriate for themselves and their situations. In contrast, when people are free then there are millions of potential solutions. The government and their experts had their way with Afghanistan, and now the country is shattered and hundreds of thousands are fleeing. They had their way with the COVID crisis, and millions of lives were shattered. If they had had their way with Airbnb, the current crisis would have one less solution. It’s one more reason to get the government out of the economy

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Unmasking the Face Cloths

We’ve all heard it before: “Masks are necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19!” Or sometimes they say “Masks are for protecting others!” Or sometimes it’s for protecting the wearer. But despite flip-flopping recommendations from the CDC, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the WHO, and others, anyone who questions the masks is immediately denounced as a “science denier.”

But is the scientific evidence and data supporting the wearing of masks really as airtight as government and mainstream media propagandists want it to be? The truth is that despite (presumably) well-meaning recommendations from the CDC and others, the evidence does not support their assertions about masks. Taking an honest look at the research is enough for unmasking the face cloths.

Research regarding the efficacy of the cloth face coverings that are typically used as masks is far from conclusive. In 2013, Chugtai et al showed that the evidence did not demonstrate that cloth masks stop the transmission of respiratory disease. Things did not improve with time. In 2020, Jain et al published a literature review concluding that face cloths did not protect health care workers, but maybe they could reduce infections in the general population as a last resort.

Not everyone was so generous—Dr Hardy wrote a review article in 2016 concluding that although they are intended to prevent against airborne infections, “face masks are incapable of providing such a level of protection.” Incidentally, that article was removed in 2020—not because it violated scientific principles or had been disproved, but because it “is no longer relevant in our current climate.” Unfortunately for the censors but fortunately for people who like science, the article is still available at archive.org. But sadly, a similar fate has met many scientists who have tried unmasking the face cloths.

Some studies do show a small decrease in infections with mask use, such as Larson et al who found that “there was no detectable additional benefit of hand sanitizer or face masks over targeted education on overall rates of [upper respiratory infections], but mask wearing was associated with reduced secondary transmission.” Some studies show that masks have no effect at all, and others even show an increase in infections with the face cloths.

If that doesn’t seem at all like the “settled science” preached by the media and governments, you’re right. As Perski et al stated in a May 2020 evidence analysis: “Available evidence from [randomized controlled trials] is equivocal as to whether or not wearing face masks in community settings results in a reduction in clinically- or laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections.”

Generally, studies that purport to show the effectiveness of masks are conducted by measuring the filtering capacity of the mask in a lab. But randomized controlled trials conducted in real-world situations, such as this one, this one, and this one, usually show little or no practical effect of masks or face cloths in reducing infection rates.

Research has also shown that face masks become increasingly ineffective the longer they are worn. Kelkar et al showed that after 2.5 hours a person wearing a mask is actually shedding more infectious particles than they were before donning the mask. The only large randomized controlled trial to examine mask use in the COVID-19 setting found an insignificant 0.3% difference in infection rate between people who did and did not wear masks.

The information used to support mask mandates during COVID-19 has been of remarkably poor quality. For instance, a 2020 report from the CDC claims that mask mandates are associated with a 0.5-1.8 percentage point decrease in the growth rate of new cases. But in addition to this being of dubious clinical significance, the CDC did not control for other variables or examine the growth rate in areas without mask mandates. This means that the report cannot be used to draw the conclusion that mask mandates cause decreased infection rates.

Another CDC report examined data from Delaware in March-June 2020 and concluded that the state’s mask mandates and stay-at-home orders had contributed to an 82% reduction in COVID incidence. Again there was no control, so the CDC is assuming—not demonstrating—that the mandates account for the reduction. Also, the report excluded data from after June, when there were several large spikes in COVID cases in Delaware, despite the continued presence of the mandates.

unmasking the face cloths
Source: Covid Tracking Project – 7 Say Avg, Twitter @ianmSC

Another CDC report in February 2021 examined 10 states and had similar findings—and similar flaws (see below). Not to mention the inherent bias: isn’t it convenient that a government agency supported by government money found that the government’s measures were effective! These flaws are the rule rather than the exception in information that claims to support mask mandates.

unmasking the face cloths

When comparisons are made between COVID cases and/or deaths in areas with mask mandates and areas without them, there is no clear correlation (see below). Additionally, data show that compliance with mask mandates was been at 80-90% during the worst waves of the pandemic in autumn 2020, so the ineffectiveness of mask mandates cannot reasonably be blamed on noncompliance.

unmasking the face cloths

If the government, corporations, and hospitals are going to force you to wear a face cloth, there should be clear and unequivocal evidence that significant harm will occur if you don’t. Such evidence does not exist.

In fact, there is a large body of evidence, both research and raw data, which shows that masks are not effective at reducing respiratory disease rates in a population. Asymptomatic spread—a large driver behind the original push for face cloth mandates—has been shown to happen at a rate of <1% even among people living in the same house (i.e. not “social distancing”).  

When it comes to a straight examination of the numbers, it’s hard to beat Tom Woods and Ian Miller. Tom Woods’ COVID Charts Quiz makes clear that there is not any correlation between wearing masks and COVID-19 infections or deaths. Ian Miller has made amazing charts and articles documenting how the facts do not match the mainstream narrative on masks.

The idea that you might harm someone by not wearing a mask involves multiple theoretical possibilities: IF you come in contact with the virus, and IF it infected you, and IF that was an asymptomatic infection (you’d be staying home if you were sick, of course), and IF it was transmitted to another person, and IF it infected them despite them wearing a mask or being vaccinated (if they chose to), then there could be harm. Many of these “ifs” have a <1% chance of actually occurring.

When it comes to mask mandates in private businesses, there’s often the attitude that they can do what they like. It’s a private company, after all. But it’s a basic tenet of ethics that informed consent is necessary for a choice to be legitimate. When information is deliberately withheld, facts are distorted, and opposing viewpoints censored, the choice cannot be considered fully voluntary—it’s been engineered by those who control the information.

A person who is afraid of COVID-19 (or ANY disease) has no right to mitigate their fear by controlling your body, clothing, entertainment, or employment. The burden of proof cannot be on those who are attempting to live a normal life, but on those who want to restrict them. If face cloths work, there should be strong and clear evidence of it, and there is not. Belief in face cloths is just that: belief, or faith—and it is not a faith that you or I should be forced to participate in. 

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Hawaii Teenager Recycles for Charity

This Hawaii teenager recycles for charity.

Thirteen-year-old Genshu Price was recycling bottles and cans to save for his college education. He was so successful that he decided to expand his recycling to help others, Hawaii News Now reports.

“After a while we figured that we could branch it off and make it for other students. That way it can be bigger,” he said. “It could help so many people.” He started collecting even more bottles and cans, even preemptively asking people visiting Oahu’s sunny beaches if they were done with their drinks.

Since he started, he and his family have collected more than 100,000 recyclables. Mainstream news outlets have shared his story all over the country. Businesses and schools have chipped in by setting up recycle bins to collect cans for Price’s project.

The most bottles and cans have come from Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii’s cleanups, and from his drop-off depots at King Intermediate, Mililani Uka Elementary, Kualoa Ranch, and other spots. “Within those six months we’ve recycled at least 5,000 pounds,” Genshu said.

The charity, spearheaded by Price, has been officially organized as Bottles 4 College. Their goal is to “create a system where we are collecting at least 2-4 million recyclable cans and bottles annually in order to be able to fund college tuition scholarships for 1-2 Hawaii students annually.”

That’s an ambitious goal, since for academic year 2020-2021, the average tuition & fees for colleges in Hawaii is $5,020 for in-state students and $18,621 for out-of-state students. But the example of Genshu Price and his family shows that voluntary charity can make a real difference in people’s lives. It’s something that we know and live by at Voluntaryism In Action, and as this Hawaii teenager recycles for charity he shows that people can help each other without the force of the government.

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The Economics of Voluntary Charity

Have you ever thought about the economics of voluntary charity? Probably not. Let’s take a look together, shall we?

“The single most important factor about the free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.”

A free market is one term for voluntary commercial actions, entered without interference from coercive government laws, programs, and regulations. But in a free market, is there any incentive to give to those less fortunate?

Some people say no, and therefore the government must force people to support the poor. This is obviously untrue, since many organizations such as Voluntaryism in Action exist to help the poor. But it’s not enough, some say: people who want to cast off the yoke of government welfare just hate the poor, and want them to be dependent on the whims of the rich.

Leaving aside for a moment the drawbacks of being dependent on the whims of government, is there nothing at work in voluntary charity besides the fickle feelings of wealthy folks? I say there’s quite a bit more: simply, that charity works like any other function in the free market, and the most efficient and effective solutions will be found through freely chosen, voluntary cooperation.

It’s easy to see what the receiver gets out of the voluntary charity. But what about the giver? There must be some incentive for them to give. On an individual level, this is easy to see: they feel good about themselves. Reducing voluntary charity to a simple market transaction, the donor exchanges his or her time, money, or goods in return for the euphoria—in common parlance, “warm fuzzies”—that comes from having helped someone.

But what about when it comes to large organizations, such as businesses? There’s no one individual to feel the euphoria, so does that mean that the incentive to give is gone? Not at all, but it is more complicated.

"The overall effect of the free market is that needs are satisfied in the most efficient manner possible."

In a free market system, any business depends on public opinion for its existence. Reputation is everything, and a poor reputation will drive away customers faster than anything. That’s why business have to be so careful to cultivate goodwill in the free market. For major corporations like Nike and Coca Cola, the most valuable asset is their brand name.

A fast way to gain goodwill is by helping needy members of the community. Again reducing it to a simple market transaction, the businesses purchase the goodwill of potential customers through the intermediary of the needy person. Then, by patronizing that business, the customers can experience the euphoria from charity, knowing that they helped to support the business that helped the needy person—essentially purchasing the euphoria from the poor person through the intermediary of the business.

In other words, a market-based system of voluntary charity provides incentives even for “greedy corporations” to help the needy. It is in the corporations’ best interests to bolster their reputation by supporting worthy charitable causes in order to add value to their brand in the mind of consumers.

Allowing the economics of voluntary charity to proceed unhindered also works in favor of helping needy individuals and ending poverty. The overall effect of the free market is that needs are satisfied in the most efficient manner possible. Keeping in mind that the charity market is essentially a market for the euphoria that comes from helping people, those who are most likely to receive donations are the ones who make the donors feel like they have made a difference—the ones who can show results.

Thus, the most efficient and effective use of charity money is on people who have a plan, utilize the donations well, and explain the success to the donors. Contrasted with a beggar seen regularly on the street, in the same condition no matter how much money they are given, the more satisfying choice is obvious. In this way, the euphoria of the donors is maximized, and the likelihood that they will donate again generally—and to the efficient receiver, specifically—is also maximized.

For the same reason, fraud is minimized in the voluntary market for charity. If the market is truly for purchasing the euphoria of helping someone, then finding out that you have been cheated will sap the will to give. Ergo, charity organizations may find ways to vet people who claim to be in distress and apply for aid. It seems logical that a person burned at one charity organization is also unlikely to give to another, and so charities would share information about abusers of their services with each other.

Since the existence of a charitable organization is dependent on continued donations, they will do everything they can to prevent fraud. When an organization can just take your money via force—like the state—it doesn’t have to be as careful.

For example, the US government recently passed bills creating more than $6 trillion in welfare to help the economy recover after the COVID lockdown measures they imposed. But not only did most of that go to politically connected special interests, the government also lost more than $200 billion to fraud.

When government steps in to regulate or replace charity with its welfare programs, the market function is distorted, as it always is when the government interferes. Without the direct and voluntary connection between giver and receiver, the euphoria of giving is nonexistent. The money taken for welfare programs then is nothing but a solid loss to those it was taken from.

And those who receive now do so through a faceless government bureaucracy with little, if any, accountability. Rather than being inspired to utilize the donations with maximum efficiency, the more they squander the money the more they will receive, since the government’s numbers will show them in even worse poverty.

Indeed, the government welfare system has an interest in keeping it that way, since the jobs of those who administer it depend on people being in poverty. As Isabel Paterson pointedly stated in The God of The Machine, “If the primary objective of the philanthropist, his justification for living, is to help others, his ultimate good requires that others shall be in want. His happiness is the obverse of their misery.”

“If the primary objective of the philanthropist, his justification for living, is to help others, his ultimate good requires that others shall be in want. His happiness is the obverse of their misery."

Government welfare creates a dependent class, both of welfare receivers and of administrators, all of whom live on money forcibly taken from others. In the economic sense, this is nothing but institutionalized theft. Voluntary charity, like any market action, is a voluntary exchange of goods.

And like any exchange in a free market, both parties benefit from the transaction—and the tendency is to encourage the most efficient producers of the good. Rather than creating a dependent class of moochers, voluntary charity tends to reduce the number of people in need by rewarding those who escape poverty and need, and discouraging fraud.

We believe that voluntary interactions are the only way to truly help others. It’s a fact of humanity that people will freely act out of their own self-interest—and as outlined above, that self-interest often includes meeting the needs of others. When government steps in, nobody ends up benefiting except the government agents—and in the long run, not even them. As Friedman said, both parties benefit when exchanges are made voluntarily on the free market.

At VIA, we strive for a world of voluntary interactions that benefit everyone involved. The economics of voluntary charity and free markets demonstrate that this is possible.

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The Rich Do Not Rule: The Voluntary Economy

“The capitalistic market economy is a democracy in which every penny constitutes a vote.”

– Ludwig von Mises

An assertion that I’ve heard often from opponents of a voluntary (i.e. free market) economy is that it will cater only to the rich. Their argument is that when every dollar (Mises said “penny,” but we’re accounting for inflation) is a vote on what should be produced, the people with more dollars will have a disproportionate amount of power. “Poor and middle class people will be economically marginalized!” they wail. “We’ll all be slaves to the giant corporations!” they insist, ignoring the government’s legal monopoly on violence, and all it implies.

However, a quick exercise of reason is enough to dispel these emotive arguments.  Let’s imagine a typical billionaire—we’ll call him Beff Jezos. Although this isn’t at all how wealth works, let’s assume that Mr. Jezos has $100 billion sitting in his bank account. Mr. Jezos could buy a lot of things with that $100 billion, or a few very big things. But does his ability to buy outweigh the rest of the population? There are approximately 330 million Americans. If only a third of them spent an average of $1K each, that would be $110 billion. They could outbid Mr. Jezos—even if he tried to spend his entire $100 billion. The spending power of the rich cannot compete with the spending power of the poor and middle-class masses. To further demonstrate, let’s try a logical exercise you can sink your teeth into.

the rich do not rule
An ultra high-quality steak.

Let’s say that billionaires want to eat ultra high-quality steaks. According to the argument from opponents of voluntary markets, the entire agricultural industry, desperate for the money of the billionaires, will reorganize itself to produce stupendous steaks. This will leave everyone who is not a billionaire with little or nothing to eat.  Suppose there are 100 billionaires who are willing to purchase steaks at $500 each. If they each eat a steak at every meal(!), they’re spending $150k per day.

While that’s surely a prize worth competing for, there are still >300 million people who need to eat. If they each spend $0.50 per meal, that’s >$450 million per day.

Put another way, 100 billionaires would each have to spend $1.5 million per meal to have the purchasing power of everyone else spending fifty cents each. While the needs of the few rich will quickly be met, all the other producers of steaks (and other things) won’t sit on their hands, waiting for the rich to want something else—meeting the demands of the masses can pay much better. And the masses have a lot of demands.

The capitalistic market economy is a democracy in which every penny constitutes a vote.

This already happens to a certain extent. The Waltons did not become rich by making Walmart a store for the wealthy. Amazon does not cater exclusively to billionaires, or even millionaires. The people who benefit most from Walmart’s inexpensive goods and Amazon’s fast deliveries are the poor and middle class. This has always been the case. And if today’s huge businesses can’t keep up with the demands of the masses, they can be dethroned quickly when outperformed by a competitor—remember when Kmart and Ebay were the big players?

Of course, competition can be squashed, but this can only happen to the detriment of customers when it’s done through coercive government action. Dr. Tom Woods has shown that the classic caricature of the monopolist—a fatcat mercilessly raising prices to gain profits—only happens when the government forces competitors out of the market. In a voluntary free-market economy, government economic interference (never voluntary) would not exist. There could be no billionaires who become rich through political graft—trade restrictions, buying off politicians, government bailouts, subsidies, tariffs, corporate lobbying, competition-killing regulations, etc. Then the only way for anyone to become rich would be to persuade people to voluntarily purchase the product or service they provide.

Milton Friedman stated that “the most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.” If the billionaire does not offer a good product or service to a wide range of customers, few people give them money—and in short order, they’re no longer a billionaire. In a voluntary economy, the rich do not rule, but the average Joe and Jane. It’s as close to the stated ideals of democracy that we can get—and unlike political democracy, nobody gets shot if they don’t comply with the majority.

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FDA Tried To Punish Distilleries for Helping During the Pandemic

One good turn deserves a hefty slap on the wrist. That seems to be the sentiment at the FDA. In the early days of the pandemic, distilleries started producing hand sanitizer to meet a hugely increased demand. But the FDA tried to punish distilleries for helping during the pandemic.

When the mainstream news told people to panic about the coronavirus, they happily obliged. PPE and hand sanitizer were soon sold out everywhere. But as we knew, people still wanted to help others voluntarily. Distilleries decided that since they produce alcohol for drinking, switching to alcohol for sanitizing would be an easy way to help their communities.

Many distilleries, especially community-minded local craft distilleries, started producing hand sanitizer. Aaron Bergh, president and distiller at Calwise Spirits in Paso Robles, California, was one example. “Some of my hand sanitizer was donated,” he said in a statement to Reason.com. “The rest was sold at a fraction of the market price.”

FDA Tried To Punish distilleries for helping during the pandemic
(Calwise Spirits)

This served a dual role of helping the community by providing sanitizer and jobs—jobs which were nearly lost due to the government’s lockdowns. Bergh said “My goal was to get as much [sanitizer] out as I could, at as low of a price as I could, while being able to bring my furloughed employees back to work. The hand sanitizer business saved me from bankruptcy—but I didn’t make an enormous profit.”

But a nasty surprise awaited the generous entrepreneurs: because they made hand sanitizer, the CARES act classifies them as “over-the-counter drug monograph facilities.” This means that FDA is punishing distilleries for helping during the pandemic with a $14,060 fine. Many of these distilleries are small businesses—already struggling financially due to government regulations and lockdowns.

FDA Tried To Punish distilleries for helping during the pandemic
Robby Verheyen of 4 Hands Brewing Company loads gallon jugs of hand sanitizer into a van for delivery in St. Louis on Friday, March 27, 2020. (BILL GREENBLATT/UPI/Newscom)

“We want to push back on this,” said Becky Harris, president of the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) and of Catoctin Creek Distilling in Purcellville, Virginia. The distilleries only produced hand sanitizer for a short time, in a public-spirited response to a crisis. “If you were making sanitizer for your community at a limited capacity, this should not be something you have to deal with,” says Harris. “It will be a slap in the face to make it through all of this and then get hit with this bill.”

Fortunately, thanks to a huge public outcry, the Department of Health and Human Services stepped in to cancel the fines on these do-gooder distilleries. But the punishment for helping during a pandemic, simply to gather more money for the government, should never have been considered. It’s ironic that the CARES Act—the government’s alleged effort to help people during the COVID pandemic—would have hurt the very people who voluntarily stepped up to help, as when the FDA tried to punish distilleries for helping during the pandemic. But that’s the nature of government intervention—someone is always hurt. And it strengthens our case that voluntary charity is more effective than government welfare—and that voluntaryism is the only moral way to organize a society.

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A Very Voluntary Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite Christmas stories. The classic tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s redemption from heartless miser to generous philanthropist is a holiday staple. It’s affected culture so much that the word “Scrooge” is synonymous with a greedy or cold person—or one who just doesn’t like Christmas.

There are many reasons given in the story why Scrooge doesn’t like Christmas, but a big one is that he just can’t understand why people would voluntarily give away their money, time, or even kindness to help other people. His one employee, Bob Cratchit, has a salary barely high enough to make up for Scrooge’s tightfisted disdain.

When a pair of gentlemen come to Scrooge's office asking for donations to help the poor, Scrooge points to the money taken from him by the government...

When a pair of gentlemen come to Scrooge’s office asking for donations to help the poor, Scrooge points to the money taken from him by the government: “Are there no prisons?…And the Union workhouses?…I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.” Unfortunately, this does little to help the poor—the gentlemen protest that “Many can’t go there, and many would rather die.” And it’s even more obvious from Scrooge’s cold, unfeeling demeanor that he gets nothing at all from “helping” the poor in this way.

***Spoiler Alert***

On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old partner, Marley, as well as three Christmas Spirits. Marley, who lived his life much as Scrooge does, is still bound by the chains of his greed, tormented by how he could have helped his fellow men. The Spirit of Christmas Past shows Scrooge how he used to care and have compassion for others, until he let the cares of the world set his heart like concrete.

The Spirit of Christmas Present takes Scrooge around the earth, viewing the happiness made possible even in the midst of poverty by caring for others. His heart softening, Scrooge is distraught at the sight of the sufferers, and asks if there is nobody to help them. “Are there no prisons?” the Spirit replies cuttingly. “Are there no workhouses?” Stricken by his own callousness in using the government as an excuse not to care, Scrooge finds himself before the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come, who shows him the dark, lonely life (and death) that await him—if his life continues unchanged.

But Scrooge has truly seen the light. He bursts from his house on Christmas morning like a ray of sunshine, spreading cheer where before he only brought gloom. No longer content to rely on the government to use money taken by taxation to help the poor, he begins a voluntary giving spree. He sees the gentlemen from the previous day and provides a donation so generous that they are shocked. When he next sees Cratchit, Scrooge is as munificent as he was miserly: “I’ll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family…”

Notably, Scrooge's change of heart did not cause him to advocate for more taxes or welfare programs, but to voluntarily reach out to those around him.

The narrator records: “Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more…” Notably, Scrooge’s change of heart did not cause him to advocate for more taxes or welfare programs, but to voluntarily reach out to those around him. By doing so, he affected their lives for the better in ways the government programs never could, and they in turn enriched his life in ways he never imagined.

The book refers to this as “keeping Christmas,” but voluntary giving does not have to be limited to a certain season. As Scrooge said: “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” And you don’t have to be Christian—or religious at all—to feel the kindness and compassion that Scrooge felt in his heart, and use that to voluntarily bring light and hope to others.

“May that truly be said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one!”

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Chef is Offering Free Meals to Jobless

One of the only good things about the tyrannical reaction to the pandemic has been the outpouring of support for people the government has hurt. Tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs due to state restrictions and lockdowns. But people are stepping up to help where the government inevitably hurts. For example, one chef is offering free meals to jobless individuals at his restaurants.

Chef Andrew Gruel (his food is better than his name) is a judge on the Food Network and the co-host of the SoCal Restaurant Show. He also owns Slapfish Seafood—a restaurant chain with 27 locations in the US—and the Big Parm pizzeria. On 3 December, Chef Gruel took to Twitter to remind everyone that people who had lost their jobs could get a free meal at his restaurants.

Chef is Offering Free Meals to Jobless

Hundreds of commenters raved about not only the Chef’s food, but about his kindness and generosity, and his willingness to assist those whom the state had harmed. Some people even offered to pay for the meals of jobless folks who take Chef Gruel up on his offer.

Chef is Offering Free Meals to Jobless

Predictably, not everyone was happy about people helping other people. The propaganda put out by the government and mainstream media has warped many people’s sense of right and wrong, even to the point where voluntarily helping people in distress is denounced as “selfishness.”

Chef is Offering Free Meals to Jobless
Fortunately, most negative comments were few and far between.

Another common criticism of charity such as Chef Gruel’s is that greedy people will take advantage of his generosity, nobody will pay for meals, and he’ll lose money and go out of business. On the contrary, over the weekend the restaurants pulled in double the usual business as people flocked in to support Chef Gruel. And that money, Chef Gruel said, would be used to give his employees a holiday bonus.

The general condition of humanity is that people feel empathy for each other and want to help. This is why voluntary charity works—as the example of Chef Gruel and many more like him demonstrate.

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Toronto Carpenter is Defying the City to Help the Homeless

Khaleel Seivwright is building insulated, mobile shelters for homeless people this winter. (CBC)

Winter in Canada is no joke. With average temperatures below freezing, Toronto is no exception. Shelter is essential to prevent Canadians from freezing to death. Yet the economic consequences of the government’s reaction to COVID-19 have left an increasing number of Canadians on the streets as winter looms closer. But one Toronto carpenter is defying the city to help the homeless.

Khaleel Seivwright, a 28-year-old carpenter, noticed the increasing numbers of homeless people in Toronto. Determined to do something about it, he started constructing small shelters and giving them away for free. With wooden walls, fiberglass insulation, a door, and a window, the shelters are nothing fancy. But they will keep people warm and could be the difference between life and death for some Canadians this winter—even though the shelters are technically illegal.

Toronto carpenter is defying the city to help the homeless
Ritchie is living in one of the completed shelters near Lake Ontario. Seivwright says Ritchie was living in a tent before he delivered the shelter. (Khaleel Seivwright)

“It just seemed like something I could do that would be useful because there’s so many people staying in tents,” said Seivwright. “I’ve never seen so many people staying outside in parks, and this is something I could do to make sure people staying outside in the winter could survive.”

Predictably, the government officials who get paid with taxpayer money when there are homeless people are not thrilled about Seivwright’s efforts. Gord Tanner, director of homelessness initiatives and prevention at the Toronto’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, admitted that “the system is very busy and very full.” With winter still on the way and the Canadian government’s COVID economic restrictions still crushing businesses, homelessness will likely continue to rise.

Toronto carpenter is defying the city to help the homeless
A Toronto homeless encampment is pictured in late May. Homelessness advocates say they expect to see more people living outdoors this winter due to the economic downturn caused by the government's COVID-19 restrictions. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Despite this, in an interview with CBC Tanner refused to say if the city would take a more lenient approach to mobile shelters or other encampments this winter, though he noted that mobile shelters can pose “significant” risks to occupants, including as potential fire hazards. Reporters from CBC apparently did not ask Tanner if he thought homeless people would prefer the certainty of death from exposure to the risk of death by fire.

In any case, Seivwright says that the threat of law enforcement won’t deter him from helping people in need. “This is what I know how to do, this is what seems to be viable, so I’m going to continue to do this.” Each shelter costs about $1,000 in new material and takes Seivwright eight hours to construct. Seivwright is paying for the project largely through a GoFundMe online fundraising campaign—funded with voluntary donations.

Advocates for the homeless are urging the City of Toronto to dramatically increase the capacity of its shelter system, which would require forcibly taking money from taxpayers—and a large chunk of that would end up in the pockets of administrators. But as this Toronto carpenter is defying the city to help the homeless, his  fundraising campaign exceeded the $20K goal by more than 400% in less than a month. Last week, Seivwright increased the goal to $200K—and as of this writing, it’s more than halfway complete. That means potentially lifesaving shelters for hundreds of Canadians, from an outpouring of kindness and compassion. That’s the power of voluntaryism in action.

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Anchorage Diner Defies COVID-19 Orders

Kriner’s Diner is a small, family-owned business. They’re a staple of Anchorage Alaska, where people can grab their delicious food any time of the day. But like most small businesses, they were hit hard by the initial wave of government-mandated COVID-19 closures. As Anchorage mayor Ethan Berkowitz continues to impose ever more draconian measures on the populace, diner owner Andy Kriner has decided that he’s had enough. Now this Anchorage diner defies COVID-19 orders, both to continue serving food and to thumb their nose at the tyrannical government.


Kriner refused to bow to the newest order to shut down dine-in service, and made no effort to discriminate against customers not wearing masks. When word got out, customers flooded into Kriner’s—not only to enjoy their delicious food, but to support them against the government. Many people, seeing the dining room full, left a monetary donation rather than wait to eat. “The people have spoken!” announced a waitress, brandishing another donation. So many people started donating that the employees set up a special donation receptacle so they had more time to serve customers.

Anchorage diner defies COVID-19 orders
The "stop work" order, fastened to the front door of Kriner's Diner.

The Municipality of Anchorage, furious that people are thinking and acting for themselves, issued a stop work order to the diner on 4 Aug, threatening fines and imprisonment if the Kriner family and their employees returned to work without the government’s permission. Kriner’s cheerfully announced on their Facebook page that they would close early on 4 Aug to prepare for opening on the next day—which they did, to a packed house.

After attempting to call for comment and receiving a busy signal all day, I finally dropped by the diner to investigate the situation and their food (the burgers are great!). The employees had taken the phone off the hook, because there’s nobody available to answer it during the day. When businesses in Anchorage were allowed to reopen, some of Kiner’s employees realized they could make more money at home collecting the government’s new unemployment checks. “People just aren’t coming in to work,” Andy Kriner, the diner’s founder and owner, explained.

Anchorage diner defies COVID-19 orders

Currently, the diner is only open from 9AM to 3PM, and is not offering to-go orders. “I only have one cook now,” Kiner said. “He can’t cook dining room and carryout. I can’t do that to him.” This is just one more example of how the ostensibly well-intentioned actions of the government inevitably end up hurting the most vulnerable people.

Anchorage diner defies COVID-19 orders
Andy Kriner outside his diner. Image credit: Kriner's Diner

Despite the difficulties that Kriner’s faces, the people of Anchorage who are sick of the tyranny of their government have rallied around the small diner. Other businesses, like the Little Dipper Diner (also of Anchorage) have also refused to comply with government mandates and subsequent “stop work” orders. Hopefully, more people and businesses will begin to emulate Kriner’s Diner and the good people of Anchorage in taking back their rights from oppressive governments.


The best part is that people who are concerned about contracting COVID-19 are free to stay away from Kriner’s. The experience of Sweden shows that coercive government mandates like the Anchorage establishments are rebelling against are not necessary to “flatten the curve.” As this Anchorage diner defies COVID-19 orders, Kriner’s is standing up for people to do things voluntarily, without immoral coercion from the government. As we say here at VIA, good ideas don’t require force.

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