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Pat McAfee Donates Millions

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

After spending 8 seasons in the NFL as the punter for the Indianapolis Colts, Pat McAfee retired to start a career in broadcasting and began the Pat McAfee Show under the Barstool Sports umbrella. He took the show out from under the umbrella a few years later and it has steadily grown since then. He’s begun announcing games at the collegiate and professional levels. During this time he incorporated a small business, which also controls his charity, The Pat McAfee Foundation. He has even appeared in matches for the WWE. McAfee has never shied away from an opportunity to grow and do things outside of his comfort zone building quite the loyal following along the way.

Pat McAfee inked a substantial contract with the sports betting app FanDuel towards the end of 2021. The Pat McAfee Show is one of the largest sports podcasts around and attracts millions of viewers and listeners making it a very attractive prize for advertisers. FanDuel and McAfee agreed to a 4 year 120 million dollar contract to make FanDuel the show’s exclusive sports bettor. While Pat McAfee is best known for his career as a top punter and his larger-than-life personality, it is perhaps time he became known for his charitable side.

McAfee, who is no stranger to charity work, wasted no time to take some of that well-earned money and find ways to help others with it. He gave his parents a million dollars after signing the deal. He also used some of the money to give each employee of Pat McAfee Show a 250 thousand dollar bonus. On top of the money he gave to his parents and employees he donated another 6 million to various causes such as, youth programs, children’s hospitals, and to assist domestic violence organizations.

A special recipient of McAfee’s charity has been his hometown of Plum, Pennsylvania. About a week before the FanDuel deal was finalized he donated 2 million dollars to his old high school and its athletic department.  Talking about his hometown he said, “I am so lucky I grew up in Plum. Hardworking people, great people, and the greatest sandwich shop in the world – Rudy’s Subs.” Earlier in 2021 he helped save the local bowling alley, Nesbit’s Lanes, that he spent time at when he was growing up.

Their GoFundMe surpassed its 100-thousand-dollar goal thanks to a donation made by Pat McAfee personally of 20 thousand, and another through his charity, The Pat McAfee Foundation, of just under 16 thousand. When asked about helping save Nesbit’s Lanes, he was quoted saying, “Nesbit’s is a staple of the Plum community,” following that with, “I’ve had the privilege of bowling there, hanging out there, and using their parking lot in times of need in high school.”

One could go on and on about Pat McAfee’s lengthy track record when it comes to charity, but that would take far too long. While many marvel at the phenomenal career he’s had it may be time to start recognizing him for his charity with the same awe. He’s done a number of amazing things in his life, but his work through The Pat McAfee Foundation and his charitable work beyond that is the most amazing to me. Pat McAfee is a prime example of someone who embodies the charitable spirit we love to see here at Volutaryism In Action.

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What About the Roads? Boone County Voluntarily Funds and Fixes Infrastructure

Times are harder for many these days. Perhaps that is felt most in small town, rural America. This story of self-reliance and voluntary solution can be traced back to the 1980’s. Boone County Nebraska was affected quite negatively by the farming crisis of the time. Many viewed living a life and raising a family there as an undesirable goal. A large amount of the teenagers and young adults of that time would leave once they got their high school diploma in hand to settle and pursue careers elsewhere across the country.

This left a lot of questions and very few answers for how this county and its small towns would survive future generations if the trend continued. Jay Wolf, a local rancher, recalled a quote he heard from his father, “As my dad used to say, it wasn’t a place you chose to live necessarily.”

Even during these rough times in the 80’s the county showed signs of life by being able to keep the local hospital in town, which today employs the highest number of workers in the area. The hospital continues to steadily grow and succeed. The county began to come back to life in the 90’s when it began a community foundation. They were able to focus the energy from this foundation to help jump-start a community looking for hope. They constructed a brand new fitness center with its main feature being a swimming pool and spin classes that are quite uncommon in rural towns.

By the time the early 00’s rolled around the community was already feeling more optimistic. Local teachers, students, and citizens raised the funds to renovate the town’s historic theater in 2002. That theater is now showing blockbuster films on the weekends and mostly employs local high school students, giving them a sense of pride and community as they begin to enter adulthood.

A handful of years later the town decided the senior citizen center was in desperate need of a renovation. The biggest challenge was finding a way to raise the 2.5 million dollars that were required to pull it off when they had never funded something at even a fraction of the cost. Jay Wolf said about the project, “We had never raised even 250,000 for anything in this town.” That didn’t stop them from trying. Not only did they raise the 2.5 million they needed, they managed to double that once they realized the senior center needed much more help than was thought before.

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Hundreds of attendees from across Nebraska and the region attended a recent cattle show at the Boone County Agriculture & Education Center in Albion. (Photo courtesy of the Boone County Agriculture and Education Center)

The proof was now in the pudding, so to speak. This county can and will survive with the help of its charitable citizens. Not long after fixing the senior center, they fixed up their local public swimming pool. After that, they got a 2-mile-long hiking trail funded and built. With this momentum, the county, and Albion, the main city of the county, has continued to invest in itself through charitable donations. It has found new life, and people now want to live and invest there.

They now proudly have breweries, new restaurants, a beautiful golf course, a renovated hospital, and an overwhelming feeling of optimism that can be felt throughout Albion and Boone County. Lindsay Jarecki who moved to the town with her husband, who began a law practice in his hometown, has noticed big changes in the decade they’ve been there. “It seems like when one person takes a risk, it nudges someone else on the edge and they do it too. So much of this stuff simply wasn’t here when we got here… You can practically feel the confidence building.”

Confidence booming, Albion and the county took on its biggest challenge to date, trying to renovate the agricultural center/fairgrounds and build a brand new childcare center for families in the area. Childcare was severely lacking in this rural area, as it is in most rural areas. The importance and size of these tasks were daunting on their own but to attempt both at the same time was bold to say the least. “There was fear, so we had to come together. We decided we were gonna support each other no matter what…We trusted each other…and the community trusted us.” Jackie said about the idea.

Boone County’s citizens delivered. They raised a vast majority of the funds for the childcare center within county lines. The agricultural center and fairgrounds project raised nearly all of the money needed through local donors and county funds. Kurt Kruse, owner of Kruse Farms recalls how amazing it was to see the community rally behind both causes and their importance, “One cool thing that happened is a lot of people gave to both projects. But the ag building also attracted some rural people who hadn’t previously given. Both these things…will help the area grow. They will bring people to town.”

The agricultural building and fairgrounds is now a hotspot for tourism in their area, hosting many exciting events. Barrel racing, rodeo, junior rodeo, livestock shows, horse riding, and other events draw in large crowds from all over Nebraska. Some folks come from as far as 100 miles away. These opportunities and events just were not possible before the community rallied to build a place for them to exist. Now it is hosting events featuring commerce and people from over a handful of states such as, concerts, bull riding, and dog shows.

boone county
The donor wall at the Boone Beginnings Early Childhood and Family Development Center. The child care center opened in November after a group of town leaders raised $4.5 million – most of it local donations – to build it. (Photo by Darin Epperly, Flatwater Free Press)

The childcare center, Boone Beginnings, is also a major success and has relieved the stress for dozens of families of having to find affordable and quality childcare. Many families were anxious about finding childcare for their little ones. Now that worry is gone and the local parents and families couldn’t be more excited.

Albion and Boone County still have pressing needs, but have shown the resilience needed to face them through voluntary charity locally. Their main problem now is the one facing all of America: housing. It’s simply too expensive to build nice middle-class homes, and that’s their next target. Boone County and Albion have about 7 million in reserve in the Boone County Community Fund and other similar charities. Estimated costs put the needed total to be somewhere around 30 million to achieve its goals.

It sounds like a steep ask but it may not be too difficult with a town raring to grow and provide for itself. The extra money and wealth being brought in will go a long way when paired with the sense of community that is now felt throughout Boone County. “My sense is that, in the last 20 years, the conversation has shifted dramatically in Albion. We work with a lot of places that have one or two successes. In Boone County they now have almost a dozen things they can point to and say, ‘Look at that. We did that.’” Jeff Yost, CEO of the Nebraska Community Foundation, who does work with 270 communities in Nebraska as well as Albion.

What a remarkable story from this rural county in fly-over country. This city and county took it upon themselves to address dire needs and solve them. I have little doubt that they will continue to find ways to thrive with the giving and caring spirit that has gotten them this far. Not only did they face issues that city, county, state, and federal level governments try to fix and struggle with on a routine basis, they did it through voluntary means. That’s a big reason for its success, if you ask me. That type of fundraising and charity creates a real sense of pride, joy, and love not only for yourself but your neighbors and community as well.

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Betty White’s Legacy of Charity

Hours before the year 2022 began the world lost one of, if not it’s most loved celebrity. Betty White passed away New Year’s Eve at the age of 99 years old and mere weeks from hitting the century mark. White was an actress best known for her roles on Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but perhaps her greatest role was one behind the cameras. Betty White’s legacy of charity was built over many decades of using her fame to bring awareness and raise money for animals in need.

White became a trustee for the Morris Animal Foundation in 1971 and stayed in that role through 2013. She also served as the Canine Division Vice President for nine years before becoming Board President for three years. The Morris Animal Foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on medical science for animals. Funding research to develop lifesaving and altering cures and treatments for diseases in animals.

President/CEO of Morris Animal Foundation, Tiffany Grunert, remembers Betty White and what she meant to the non-profit, “It is hard to imagine a world without Betty in it. She was a tremendous animal advocate who tirelessly supported the work of Morris Animal Foundation to improve the health of animals globally. All of us at the Foundation are mourning the loss of this amazing woman.”

“We will miss her wit, her intelligence and, most of all, her love of animals and commitment to advancing their health. She was a true inspiration to our staff, her fellow trustees and all of our supporters.”

White was heavily involved with the Morris Animal Foundation for nearly 50 years. Besides the roles she filled in an official capacity she offered her services in other areas such as, hosting and appearing at events and sponsoring specific health studies for a wide variety of animals. She dedicated a lot of her personal time and money to the non-profit.

White was considered to be the heart of the foundation by some. According to the wife of Dr. Mark Morris Jr. and Board Trustee member, Bette Morris, “Betty was always an active participant in our scientific review process. She often said that our scientific advisory boards were the engines that drove Morris Animal Foundation. If they are the engines, then she certainly was our organization’s heart.”

Her whole life she was looking to help animals and hopefully ease as much suffering for them as possible. She did this by continuing to work with and support the Morris Animal Foundation. She also began the Betty White Wildlife Fund in response to the Deep-Water Horizon oil spill in 2010. The fund’s main goal is to provide necessary help for animals in emergency situations. “Betty always put the animals first.

In the 1990s, White suggested pain management should be an area of future research and funded the first few studies. Today, if a veterinarian performs an elective surgery, like a spay or neuter without using pain management, she/he could face a malpractice charge. You can thank Betty White for that revolutionary change in the way we practice all phases of veterinary medicine today.” Said Dr. Rob Hilsenroth, who once served as Executive Director for Morris Animal Foundation.

Naturally, the passing of someone as universally loved and adored as Betty White elicited many emotions from the general public. With her passing happening only a few weeks before her birthday, many targeted that date to try and figure something out to honor her. Her work with animals seemed like a no brainer to many. Once White’s birthday rolled around in January fans made a big statement: local animal shelters, charities, and groups began seeing an influx of donations being made in memory of Betty.

The viral movement grew thanks to the Internet making it one its many “challenges,” this one branded the #BettyWhiteChallenge. The challenge called on people to make five-dollar donations in her name. While the true numbers will never be known, the challenge raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was a remarkable impact in honor of a life of charitable work.

Betty White was many things and loved for even more reasons. She will forever be known for her iconic roles as an actress. Beyond that she will be remembered in the hearts of millions as a caring, sweet, funny, and talented human being that always cared for others.

While it’s hard to imagine a world post-Betty White, we hope her legacy of giving is one that will persist as strongly as the one she left behind in acting. We know the world will always be a better place because of Betty White’s legacy.

 

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Children’s Hospital Receives Thousands of Donations Following Epic Playoff Game

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round of the playoffs in overtime, in what many consider to be an ‘instant classic.’ The game itself had everything you could ever want from a playoff game: many lead changes, last second scores, and of course overtime.

While the game will likely be remembered for a long time, one of the most amazing things about the game came long after the final whistle. It has become a new age tradition in sports for fans to show respect and support for an opposing team or player after a hard fought game by donating money to that player’s or team’s charity. That is precisely what happened following the playoff win by the Chiefs, according to a report by WKBW News.

A Facebook page called ‘Chiefs Kingdom Memes’ made a post on Monday night calling on fellow Chiefs fans to donate to Patrick Mahomes’ (starting quarterback of the Chiefs) charity, “Patrick Mahomes’ 15 and the Mahomies”. He requested that donations be made in $13 increments in honor of the game tying 13 second drive, orchestrated by Mahomes and the Chiefs offense to send the game into overtime, eventually allowing the Chiefs to win the game over the Buffalo Bills.

Brett Fitzgerald who runs the Facebook group recalled talking about the post with a buddy of his, Alex Irvin. The two were messaging back and forth when Irvin mentioned that Bills Mafia (The nickname for passionate Buffalo Bills fans) would likely also have done a similar thing and raised money for Josh Allen (starting quarterback of the Bills) and his foundation.

Fitzgerald said, “…I’m like, I like that idea. So, instantly went and found Josh Allen’s foundation. Donated $13 to it, so basically switch the $13 over to Josh Allen’s foundation. Made a quick meme about it, posted it on there, posted a screenshot of my donation and deleted the other one from Facebook and Twitter recommending the Mahomes’ foundation. I said, ‘this is better.’” Within 24 hours of making the post asking fellow Chiefs fans to follow his lead and make donations to Allen’s foundation rather than Mahomes’, Oishei Children’s Hospital found itself receiving thousands of donations.

The Patricia Allen Fund was created in November of 2020 after the passing of Josh Allen’s grandmother. It all started when fans began donating $17, for Allen’s jersey number, to Oishei Children’s Hospital. They originally raised over 1 million dollars for the hospital at that time. The hospital now has a wing named after Allen’s grandmother to honor her. This time though it was fans of an opposing team showing their love for Allen by donating money to the children’s hospital. Andrew Bennet, vice president of the hospital was quoted saying, “Any kids that are growing up, whether they’re playing sports or not, sportsmanship and courtesy and integrity are lifelong lessons and this is a great example of sportsmanship.”

“Bills Mafia was the catalyst in this and we’re just following their lead on it.” Fitzgerald said. As of today, fans have raised over $173 thousand dollars since the playoff game. For Brett Fitzgerald, Allen’s foundation being focused on a children’s hospital is a cause he can relate to and is appreciative of. His 7-year-old boy suffers from asthma and also lives with autism so he spends more time than a parent would like at children’s hospitals. “I have a son with autism. So, he does go to the children’s hospital.”

Donations have slowed down but they are still coming in. This is a trend in the sports world that will hopefully continue and gain momentum as time goes on. Sports are often about bringing people together and community, and few things are better examples of those than charity. Fitzgerald isn’t the first and won’t be the last but his efforts will change the lives of countless children and that’s more amazing than even the greatest playoff games.

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Garage Food Pantry Project by Vermin Supreme Institute

Chris Rogers of the Vermin Supreme Institute, a 501c4 organization based out of Texas, is leading the way for a new food pantry project. Rogers recently started a new “Garage Food Pantry” project.

Currently he is running it out of his personal garage every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month as a trial run. He’s also doing this to personally see what will be needed for the project to successfully grow. The main goal is to have one set up within walking distance of every urban community, granting easy access to millions of people in need. To ensure their success and accessibility of food and items needed they would be set up as a network. Allowing nearby garage pantries to help each other maintain necessary supplies.

In Rogers’ opinion, the biggest difference between the garage food pantry project and other pantries is its goal of being 100% privately run, meaning there would be no state funding and no tax breaks taken. There would also be no requirements for those who come to shop at the garage pantry. No names, reasons, or inquiries about why the people who show up are there. People in the community who need assistance would show up, get a basket, and then proceed to shop for their needs and/or wants.

garage food pantry
Cally Rogers is ready to help those in need with her garage food pantry. Image credit: Chris Rogers

It’s been quite a hit within Rogers’ community. He believes that the neighbors knowing who is running it helps encourage them to participate and contribute to the success of the pantry. The immediate sense of community is making a decided impact on their ability to do what the community needs.

Rogers has also noted that many who have come for assistance have also shown up to help improve the pantry. Turning it more into a mutual-aid situation as opposed to a basic charity operation. For example, one couple started coming to his garage pantry regularly due to it being within walking distance, whereas before they would have to travel miles to get to one. They’ve also donated a significant portion of unneeded food from the other pantry that was given to them in pre-made packages. A man who has been living out of his car mentioned how impactful stocking can openers is for the homeless who may be in need of canned goods but don’t have a way to utilize them otherwise.

Overall, Chris Rogers believes the trial run for this outstanding voluntary solution of getting food to those who need it has been a raging success—from many helping stock the pantry after receiving help themselves, to neighbors volunteering to work and assist the pantry in other ways. From what he’s seen, there’s not only enough food to bring this to every community but also enough will from people who just want to help others.

All in all, this brilliant idea of the garage food pantry project has all the tools and love behind it to make a real impact on people’s lives, and show countless people that there is always a better way than looking to the state for help. That voluntary aid is not only preferable, but feasible.

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Planting Seeds

Freedom from the state and self-sufficiency go hand-in-hand. One of our latest projects here at Voluntaryism in Action, “Rooted in Voluntaryism,” aims to assist more people to increase their self-sufficiency through gardening.  A VIA follower and volunteer, Roger Perry, is a master gardener with a lifetime of experience.  Below, he offers a basic explanation for planting seeds.  We hope this will be a helpful accompaniment to your seed starter kit if you signed up for our program, or that you’ll share with friends interested in starting their own vegetable gardens!      

Planting seeds is less expensive than buying nursery plants.  A packet of seeds may cost between $1.00 and $3.00 (check out the options from our friends at True Leaf Market) and will produce more plants than the average home gardener can use. Seeds can sometimes be received free at garden shows, food banks, and other community resources.

A packet of seeds may also be shared between family, friends, or neighbors reducing the cost to almost zero. Planting seeds allows you to extend the growing season as you can plant seeds indoors several weeks before it is safe to plant outdoors.

Before you start to planting seeds, it is important to take a look at the seed packet for important information about the seeds.  The front of the packet has general information such as:  the company name of the seller, cost, name and variety of the seed.  It may also show things like:  number of days to harvest, if it is suitable for growing in a container, if it is NON-GMO (not modified genetically), and the weight of the seeds. 

The reverse side will have a general description of the item, planting instructions, a map of the United States and four climate zones (this is kind of small and hard to see), and the year for which the seed was packed (although seeds are packed for a specific year, they will normally be viable (able to grow) for at least 2-3 years).

When planting seeds indoors you will need a growing container of some type.  Almost any container will do.  It should be fairly shallow, have drainage holes in the bottom, and a plate to catch the water.  It may be covered to retain moisture and warmth.  Recycled nursery containers (see below) are perfect.   They are shallow and have plenty of drainage holes.  They can sometimes be obtained from nurseries, friends, or from items you have purchased. 

planting seeds
Two examples of nursery containers, and a makeshift nursery container from a margarine tub.

You can also use recycled household items (below). 

planting seeds

Clamshell type items can be cut in half (below). 

planting seeds

Put drain holes in one part and use the other as a plate to catch the water (below). When putting holes in the containers be careful not to injure yourself!  

planting seeds

A cover is not necessary, but if you want one you can use plastic film, a plastic bag, or top of a plastic clamshell.  Put a few small holes in the plastic cover to prevent mildew or overheating.  Even with the holes, remove the cover for a few hours a day and make sure the plastic does not touch the soil.

You do not need to buy a special soil mix for planting seeds.  Most yard soil will do; however, if your soil is especially heavy and wet, you will have better results if you can add some potting soil and or sand.

Now you are ready to plant!  Wet the soil and let it drain.  Follow the instructions on the packet for how deep to plant.  Try to allow more space between seeds than the packet indicates to make it easier to transplant when the time comes. If you are planting more than one variety of seed, it would be a good idea to add a marker with the kind of seed and the date they were planted. 

Planting outdoors may be easier and less troublesome.  Whether you are planting seeds or transplanting your seedlings, the process is about the same.  Prepare the soil.  Again, most soils will do without adding costly, processed amendments.  If your soil is especially heavy clay, you may want to add sand, compost, or other organic matter. 

Using a shovel, hoe, trowel, etc. dig the soil up, breaking big clods and adding any amendments as you go. Rake the soil smooth.  Water lightly and let it drain.  Plant seeds according to package directions. Plant seedlings at the same depth as they were in the seed bed.  Adding a light mulch will help retain warmth and moisture and will deter weed growth.

Now, water and weed as necessary until your crops are ready to harvest!

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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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Capsized By Charity

“Capsized By Charity” was written by Oliver A. from The Liberty Quill.

“Far too many equate compassion for the poor with support for government welfare programs. They are not the same thing.” Bradley Thomas (@EraseState)

Merely two months had passed since purchasing our new car, yet there we were, continually stalling and finally unable to start – sitting ducks in the middle of traffic. Exercising our one option, my wife and I called a tow truck and waited in joint bewilderment. A faulty sensor caused a particular tow truck driver’s path along with ours to converge that evening. We climbed into his truck and struck up a great conversation that continued until we reached the dealership to drop off the vehicle. Once there, the driver offered to drive us home, roughly a thirty-minute drive away. It beat waiting for a cab. As we continued conversing, the driver and I soon realized we had both overcome past addictions and began sharing how those victories had once more granted us abundant lives. Thirty minutes seemed like ten, and we were home. Thanking the driver, I took my wallet out of my coat pocket and asked him what we owed him. “Absolutely nothing,” he said. He added that the conversation had been an encouragement and was payment enough. Nothing? I was speechless. We exchanged some final words and said our goodbyes. As he drove away, my wife and I were left marveling at what had unfolded: genuine charity.

The Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius once said,

“Do not act as if you had ten thousand years to throw away. Death stands at your elbow. Be good for something while you live and it is in your power.”

Many of us learn the benefits of sharing our toys and helping others early on in life. But where do these moral or societal norms come from, and how does applying them benefit us? In this quill, I will present the following three reasons individuals ought to be charitable: its importance throughout biblical scripture, the positive effect it has towards achieving individual happiness and peaceful society, and finally, how un-coerced charity erodes our reliance on government safety nets, potentially reducing the government’s influence over us.

Faithful Obedience

Before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that although the forthcoming section speaks to Christianity, specifically, I recognize many other belief systems place a similar emphasis on the importance of charitable works. However, as a professing Christian, I have chosen to adhere to what I know best. To the particular reader who may be averse to religious arguments, I encourage you to skip this first section rather than abandoning this work altogether. Now let’s dig in.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 from the King James Version (KJV) reads,

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

Interestingly enough, the KJV is one of the few translations to convert this passage’s usage of the Greek word “agape” into “charity.” Most versions opt for the word “love” instead. Not to detract from the point at hand, but I find this helpful in demonstrating how closely associated the two concepts are.

The preceding passage addresses charity’s preferential position over individual spiritual fervor. Believers sometimes fall prey to the desire to impress others by voicing long-winded articulate prayers or trying to impart to others how closely they are to God. Please do not misinterpret me here; I am not saying articulated prayers, and a desire to grow closer to God is wrong. But the passage clearly states that if you demonstrate different types of spiritual gifts, claim to know God, but are not charitable, there’s a problem.

The website Britannica.com defines charity as,

“Charity, in Christian thought, the highest form of love, signifying the reciprocal love between God and man that is made manifest in unselfish love of one’s fellow men… In Christian theology and ethics, charity (a translation of the Greek word agapē, also meaning ‘love’) is most eloquently shown in the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ. St. Augustine summarized much of Christian thought about charity when he wrote: ‘Charity is a virtue which, when our affections are perfectly ordered, unites us to God, for by it we love him.’”

So what do the accounts of Jesus Christ, and the bible as a whole, teach us about charity?

Let’s look at mercy as it relates to charity. In the biblical story of the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8), the Pharisees confront Jesus, remind him Jewish law requires that she be stoned to death, and ask Him what should become of her. Amazingly, although he recognizes her sin and knows the law, Jesus replies, “…He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7) Awestruck, the men withdraw from the scene, thus sparring the woman from a humiliating and almost certain death. Jesus then counsels the woman and addresses her wrongdoing before telling her to sin no more. He could have easily condemned her to ensure His continued good standing with the spiritual authorities of the day. Instead, he illuminated the reality of sin and pointed the light back onto them. The woman received a great measure of mercy.

Many people associate financial generosity with charity. A well-known biblical principle that supports this is the concept of tithing – giving a certain percentage of your income to advance the church’s work. Tithing is an Old Testament (OT) command that is re-affirmed again in the New Testament (NT). Modern believers sometimes disagree about whether or not the ten percent still applies under the NT. Nevertheless, most agree that faithful giving is an essential part of spiritual discipline and growth.

My wife and I currently operate a church out of our home. We have faithfully chosen to continue putting money aside even though we’re not associated with any organization or have any operating costs. The tithing discipline enables us to meet people’s needs when they arise and to support established charities. There are no shortages of opportunities to help, and the scriptures point many of them out to us. Scripture frequently addresses helping the orphan, the widow, and most often the poor. A thorough review of scripture should compel the believer to help those in need and warn them against turning a blind eye.

To the believing Christian, Jesus’ death on the cross represents the most remarkable demonstration of love the world has ever known. Jesus devoted his early years to the teachings of the OT scriptures. Later, as his teachings began to increasingly subvert the local authorities and Rome, he never backpedaled as pressure on him began to mount during his adult ministry. He could have recanted and saved His own skin; instead, He chose martyrdom. Jesus exemplified perfect love while enduring a slow, painful death on the cross in saying,

“…Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do…” (Luke 23:24)

The crucifixion account of Jesus and other accompanying scriptures has effectively spurred many Christians to make sacrifices to help elevate those around them.

Proverbs 25:21-22 describes the effects of being gracious and charitable on those who oppose us, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” Most people expect to be repaid evil for evil. When we repay good for evil, this unexpected reply often stings the offender: something unanticipated. The world knows too much vengeance and too little forgiveness.

Creating A Peaceful Society

Charity’s effects on individuals and communities often contribute to a more peaceful society. As we circle back to our tow truck driver, we recognize the impact a charitable disposition can have in transforming would be adverse events. What could have been a lost evening and a sleep-deprived night was completely upended and displaced by optimism and general hope for humanity. I recall resolving to seek out opportunities to be generous to people least expecting it. This desire is best explained by the 2000 American drama film “Pay It Forward.”

The well-known non-profit organization, Habitat for Humanity, defines “paying it forward” this way, “To pay it forward simply means to repay a kindness received with a good deed to someone else.” What would society look like if charitable acts were continually paid forward? Have you ever been in a drive-thru and discovered the vehicle ahead of you paid for you? I hope so – it definitely sheds new light on your day. And if you have, did you pay it forward by paying for the next person? Something to think about. Imagine the ripple effect of everyone paying it forward for one day. How would that impact the employees? Sure this scenario presents winners and losers in terms of its cost implications. Still, everyone would benefit from the kindness received and the feelings generated from passing on that kindness. Ok, maybe I’m seeing things through rose-coloured glasses, but a guy can dream. The drive-thru scenario is a simple illustration of how charitable actions contribute to positive attitudes and lead to beneficial outcomes.

On the topic of attitude, an evergreen article by Colleen Walsh of “The Harvard Gazette” states,

“Studies suggest that more money can lead to a significant bump in positive outlook when it brings people out of poverty, but when simply taking a person up a pay grade, there’s often only a minor change in attitude. And while the purchase of material possessions can offer a temporary lift, the effects of a new watch, car, or dress, studies show, are almost always short-lived.”

The article also references a Harvard Business School and University of British Columbia study stating the following correlation between the act of giving and levels of happiness,

“The findings showed that those who reported spending more on others, what the team called “prosocial” spending, also reported a greater level of happiness, while how much they spent on themselves had no impact on happiness.”

If happiness were capital, the preceding quote informs an individual’s expected return on investment when investing in others rather than themselves. Increasing levels of individual happiness can, in turn, have positive effects on the communities around them. Aside from helping with financial needs, people can also give of their time. A willingness to watch my neighbour’s children on short notice can significantly benefit them when something unexpected comes up. Knowing we are there for them can enlarge their sense of security and improve their overall mental and emotional state. Our neighbourly commitment to one another strengthens our mutual relationship. When our children have it out with one another (kids will be kids), both families have increased incentives to peacefully work things out.

Imagine this reality multiplied throughout an entire community: everyone would benefit. Neighbours would be better acquainted and have a vested interest in watching out for one another: making the community safer. In a more harmonious world, calling on law enforcement to lower the volume level of your neighbour’s music would be unthinkable. What might motivate your neighbour to comply with your request? The reciprocal nature of healthy relationships. Charitable neighbours make for better and more peaceful neighbourhoods.

For individuals living rurally, specific organizations exist, enabling charitable works and offering opportunities to get involved. “Voluntaryism In Action” exemplifies tangible voluntary initiatives aimed at strengthening communities. The organization’s mission statement reads,

“Voluntaryism in Action strives to empower and improve the lives of everyone across the globe through charitable, voluntary, and free market solutions.”

Their initiatives aim to improve community development, respond to urgent needs and disaster relief, contribute to education initiatives, and more. When life qualities are improved, we often witness less crime, leading to a more peaceful society. Whether done in person or from a distance, charity increases the prospect of peace. In an age where a growing number of people are becoming social isolates, reaching out to those around you can upend the individual tendency to withdraw. It may take time, but a little persistence can bring about remarkable results.

Continuing with the organization at hand, we find a compelling distinction within their vision statement, which reads,

“To be the premiere resource and venue for those who seek to help their fellow man through voluntary compassion rather than coerced altruism.”

Coerced altruism resulting from taxation and administered by the state lacks genuine charity’s upside and impedes its organic development. Government welfare is very effective, however, in creating individual and apathetic communities. In turn, this apathy strengthens the perception that the state is the only vessel capable of providing assistance to individuals in times of need.

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Reducing State Influence

Turning our attention to altruism’s troubling relationship with the state, we once again borrow from our friends at Voluntaryism In Action,

“Rather than mutual agreements and voluntary exchange, we find our daily lives and actions being dictated by bureaucratic third parties. We find it not only immoral to centrally plan society, but dramatically inefficient. The system designates A to force B to pay for C, while A takes a portion for his own keeping. We find that this state-instituted welfare system not only leaves many disenfranchised due to disincentives, it further harms the individuals it intends to assist.”

State welfare should not be confused with charity. In his classic book The Law,” famous French economist and philosopher Frédéric Bastiat wrote,

“You say, ‘There are men who have no money,’ and you apply to the law. But the law is not a self-supplied fountain, whence every stream may obtain supplies independently of society. Nothing can enter the public treasury, in favor of one citizen or one class, but what other citizens and other classes have been forced to send to it.” (pp. 20-21)

Government assistance is merely the re-distribution of resources obtained through forced taxation from one individual to another. Despite being disguised as philanthropy, the truth is the appropriation of funds that bankroll social safety nets is made possible by oppressing and plundering private citizens.

Coerced altruism also encounters problems of reduced effectiveness. I make no attempt to conceal that I’m a federal employee at the time of writing this. My livelihood depends on tax revenues, as do all public employees, including those overseeing government safety net programs. These salaries equate to high administration costs, diminishing the assistance provided to those who need it. Another drawback, often unnoticed, is what I like to call “divorced charity.” The term divorced speaks to the impersonal aspect of government hand-outs which can negatively impact individual psyches in numerous ways.

First, government bureaucracy forces applicants to navigate endless forms in hopes of qualifying and accessing benefits. This process can prove quite burdensome and can contribute to increased anxiety and feelings of disenfranchisement. I have seen this unfold in the lives of certain veterans struggling with PTSD while trying to navigate the system. True charity works to alleviate these sorts of experiences. If someone we knew expressed difficulties in paying their upcoming power bill, which of the following approaches would seem more charitable?

  • A – Ask them how much money they require and offer to do our best to help.
  • B – Ask them for recent bank statements and a monthly budget plan, offer them money, and request a receipt to ensure the money went towards paying the power bill.

Option A, and to be clear, I’m not concerned about enabling a few dishonest individuals along the way. My instincts usually don’t let me down. Moreover, as we’ve seen, charity’s benefits often apply as much to those giving as to those receiving. By nature, state “benevolence” is impersonal and often inefficient. But what effect does society’s reliance on state programs have on the government’s increasing size and mandate?

The famous economist and historian Murray N. Rothbard wrote the following in his classic work, Anatomy of the State,”

“Once a State has been established, the problem of the ruling group or ‘caste’ is how to maintain their rule. While force is their modus operandi, their basic and long- run problem is ideological. For in order to continue in office, any government (not simply a ‘democratic’ government) must have the support of the majority of its subjects. This support, it must be noted, need not be active enthusiasm; it may well be passive resignation as if to an inevitable law of nature.” (p. 18)

When seeking the citizenry’s support, perhaps no scheme is more effective than dangling one’s livelihood before their eyes. As governments continue to expand, the population’s reliance on government safety nets has increased with it. There are now endless discussions around enshrining certain benefits as human rights. These expectations have resulted in some individuals making incentive-based decisions about whether it is even beneficial for them to find employment. Clearly, the gravy train has gone off the rails. Long gone are the days when the government operated as a collective group of individuals legitimized by protecting individual rights to life, liberty, and property. Today’s governments resemble huge cash cows, compelled to carry on funding all sorts of expensive programs and cooking up endless new positive right initiatives to maintain popular support. Every four years, many ballots are cast based on promises of increased financial incentives for the low and middle classes. As a consequence of central banking, most of these promises are funded without ever raising taxes, and few question the sustainability of such activities.

Consider the effects on voting behaviour if charity was solely an individual, community, or corporate pursuit. Back page topics would make their way into more serious discussions and contribute to superior policies – well, theoretically anyway. In the previous section, we visualized how communities, strengthened through neighbourly love, might impact society. Imagine how modified expectations might affect government size and the government’s claim to being our caretaker. For those yearning for freedom, from the classical liberal straight through to the anarchist, there’s consensus that the current size and scope of government is grotesque. Negating the government’s capacity regarding charity would take a small step towards undermining its authority, impacting future policies, and reducing its overall size.

In closing out this section, we would be wise to recognize government assistance for what it is – relief with conditions. The conditions being we accept the countless negative trade-offs, agree with the size and scope of government, and remember which hand has been feeding us through the next election cycle. Murray Rothbard put it simply in his book Power and Market: Government and the Economy,”

“It is curious that people tend to regard government as a quasi-divine, selfless, Santa Claus organization. Government was constructed neither for ability nor for the exercise of loving care; government was built for the use of force and for necessarily demagogic appeals for votes. If individuals do not know their own interests in many cases, they are free to turn to private experts for guidance. It is absurd to say that they will be served better by a coercive, demagogic apparatus.”

In Closing

“The Golden Rule,” as it is best known, instructs us to treat others the way we want to be treated. I recently heard the following thought-provoking statement from Michael McCullough during an episode of Russ Roberts’ show “EconTalk,”

“We’ve tried on a couple of occasions to study the Golden Rule and it’s hard, to study in the laboratory.”

Interesting. It’s as though most people accept this rule as a natural law despite having no explanation as to how it works. Maybe that’s because it doesn’t really matter in the end. Perhaps what matters is that generosity benefits both parties, increases the prospect of peace, and reduces government legitimacy. Sounds pretty good to me.

Towards charity,

OA

This article was reposted with permission from The Liberty Quill. The original article can be accessed here. You can read some of Oliver’s other great writing at libertyquill.com.

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Dizzy Gastro Sports Pub feeds people in wake of Covid-19

A small town pub did what they could in the face of government restrictions to alleviate the extra stress brought on by the pandemic during the holiday season. Chris Murie, owner of The Dizzy Gastro Sports Pub in Toronto has been in “The Biz” for about 30 years, starting in the back of the house and as a chef. As an owner, he saw profits declining and employees struggling to get by due to the pandemic and the forced government lockdowns. In his frustration, he realized he was better off than many in his community. Many of the businesses local to him are now up for lease as the lockdowns continued.

When asked during an interview with CBC what the process was of deciding who they were handing out meals to, he replied: “No questions asked. Just call the pub. You tell us where you work or where you worked, give us your dietary restrictions, your food allergies, and we’ll have a hot meal ready for you.” As word spread around the tight-knit community The Dizzy Gastro Sports Pub received offers to partner with breweries. The breweries who loved his idea wanted to find a way to help as well. They lent a hand by offering drinks to go with the meals.

Dizzy Gastro Sports Pub
Chris Murie, owner of The Dizzy Gastro Sports Pub.

Murie got the idea after posting a long Faceboook “rant” centered around his frustration in seeing his community struggle. The expanded and increased lockdowns recently announced were causing further harm to small businesses in the area, forcing many to close. But what really got the ball rolling were the comments under his post. Particularly the ones describing their personal experience. Paraphrasing the general sentiment, he described the comments that led him to change his mindset, “You know Chris at least you still have the business. At least you still have a way of making a living and supporting your family. And if you apply yourself you’ll get through this.” Murie went on to say, “For some of these folks they have zero. Like, they have nothing. And it made me feel real selfish, especially at this time of year. It’s not a time to be selfish. It’s a time to give, and that’s sorta how it all went down.”

The owner of the locally loved Dizzy Gastro Pub could not be prouder of the way the community has come together. “This is an amazing neighborhood. I’ve been here for 15 years. We went through construction down here about 12 years ago and this neighborhood supported us through all of that. And I couldn’t be luckier to be in the neighborhood that we’re in. We are getting a ton of phone calls. The breweries are kicking in beer here. People are bringing free pop today. It’s just, it’s an incredible neighborhood, it really is, it’s like a little village.”

Dizzy Gastro Sports Pub

When asked about the future of The Dizzy Gastro Pub during the lockdowns and pandemic he replied, “Well, we don’t know. The truth is we don’t know what’s gonna happen. We have a good landlord who is working with us, as we’ve been here for so long. So, we’re fortunate there. It just depends on what happens with our takeout and delivery, and if it’s enough to meet our fixed costs every month.” Despite the uncertain future he gladly lent a helping hand to the people in their small town.

 Murie decided to be generous in a time of personal need to help his community. Even though he was also hurting from the pandemic and lockdowns, he was fortunate enough to be in a position to help others. And he voluntarily did just that. The following quote he gave during the interview pretty much summed up his mentality behind offering to feed those struggling saying, “I can’t do a lot. I’m just a little guy, but we can give them a positive experience and offer them a hot meal.”

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Volunteer Rescues 100 Pounds of Food

Sometimes, helping people is just a matter of keeping your eyes open. This was the case with one of our volunteers who was on the lookout for opportunities to help at his local hospital. He discovered that the hospital was tossing out almost 100 pounds of a nutritional supplement that was slightly over the best-buy date. He also knew that the local food bank accepts non-perishable items up to a year after their best-buy date. It was a simple matter to politely ask if he could take the supplements to the food bank. The hospital staff cheerfully agreed, and even helped him carry the boxes to his car.

volunteer rescues 100 pounds of food
Our friendly volunteer dropping off the rescued food at the food bank.

Because one person was on the lookout for ways to help, the food bank got 100 pounds of food that otherwise would have been wasted. “I’m just glad I was able to help,” the volunteer said. “It just cost me a quick drive, and this food could really help people.” Voluntary giving doesn’t have to be a matter of money. Sometimes all that’s necessary is keeping a lookout for opportunities and having the will to take advantage of them.

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