Category: Charity

Teach a Man to Fish

Recently, I came across two critiques of a common saying: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” One of those critiques was in the video below (hat tip to James McGrath and Ross McKenzie) The other was in

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The Case for Charity

I spend a lot of my time arguing against the case against charity (and linking to this post). You might get the impression that I am a relentlessly negative person, always arguing against something. But that’s not the case. You see, I don’t just think that the case against charity is wrong. I believe that

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Fundamental Errors

One of my favorite psychological concepts is the fundamental attribution error. The basic idea is that we tend to attribute the actions of others to their character rather than their circumstances. When we see someone speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, for example, we tend to think that their reckless rather than thinking

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Racist Rhetoric and the Case Against Charity

Recently, I sat down with someone who was involved in the civil rights movement in Mississippi in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He had a huge collection of material from that era, including a fake NAACP membership application that the White Citizens Council created as a publication piece. You can see the application on

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On the Division between Charity and Justice

You’ve heard this one before: Once upon a time there was a village that sat just past the bend in a river. One day, the villagers noted a few people floating past the bend and pulled them out of the water. Some were dead and the village buried them. Others were sick and the village

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Poverty and Other Problems

Last week, I posted a link to this post by Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns & Money. The first comment on that post (the one at LGM) seemed like an excellent opening to a post I’d been thinking about for a while. Here’s the comment: My Jesuit moral theology professor used to say “The number

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Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much

One of the biggest questions in addressing poverty is the question of why people remain poor despite the many public and private resources available to them. Among those who make the case against charity, the theory is often that something is wrong with the person who is poor: they are dependent, they are entitled, they

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(Re)Defining Poverty

When most of us think about poverty, we probably have a pretty clear idea about what we mean. Poverty means not having enough money. Some of us might think about it a bit more. We might make a distinction between absolute poverty and relative poverty. We might make a distinctions between income poverty, asset poverty,

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The Case Against Charity

A few years ago, I was given a copy of Robert Lupton’s book Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It). I was surprised at what I read. The core argument of the book is that charity – except in cases of real crisis – is harmful to both donors

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