Please read my post from yesterday if you haven’t yet. It will help you understand the argument I make today.
Here is a diagram I made based on the essay I linked yesterday. Notice how far removed the recipients are from the donors (taxpayers). Also notice the accountability loop:
Is Jesus happy with this system? I don’t know. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. The verses in the New Testament indicate that we are to give to the poor directly–that is the plain reading of the texts. Why did he phrase it like that? Was it so that we would be close to the poor, to look at them, to touch them, breathe the same air they breath, see how they live? I think so. In the state-sponsored system, we see how far removed donors and recipients are from each other.
Somebody might counter that this is OK because it is an agency relationship. If so, I disagree. This isn’t a true agency relationship, since it is based on fear/coerced “giving” and the principal (taxpayer) does not have direct control over the agent (the state). For example, try not paying the portion of your taxes that would otherwise go to the poor. Tell the IRS that you will donate that money to a worthy charity instead. See how much control you have (as the principal) over the agent (the IRS). It is actually the other way around. The agent controls the relationship. That is fine as far as it goes (Romans 13:1-7), but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this is a true agency. It isn’t.
So our state-sponsored poverty alleviation system is not an agency, it is based on fear or coercion, it lacks accountability to the donor (taxpayer), it separates donors from recipients, it fosters moral hazard/rent-seeking behaviors, it thwarts intact family formation, and creates occasions for temptations to various kinds of sin (for the donors/taxpayers, the administrators, and the transfer recipients). A lot of people like this system, even those who are not transfer recipients. I wonder how they get around all of the problems I mentioned. Do the the ends justify the means in this case?