Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Moral action is freely chosen action

John Stossel interviewed Michael Moore for an upcoming 20/20 on ABC. Stossel is one of the few identifiable libertarians in the major media. Moore, of course, has just released his newest "documentary" Sicko. Stossel wrote about the interview, believing it provides an insight into Moore's ideology. This portion of the Stossel column begins with a quotation from Moore:
"I gotta believe that, even though I know you're very much for the individual determining his own destiny, you also have a heart."
Notice his smuggled premise in the words "even though." In Moore's mind, someone who favors individual freedom doesn't care about his fellow human beings. If I have a heart, it's in spite of my belief in freedom and autonomy for everyone. ....

Moore thinks respecting others' freedom means refusing to help the less fortunate. But where's the connection? All it means is that the libertarian refuses to sanction the use of physical force (which is what government is) to help others. Peaceful methods - like voluntary charity - are the only morally consistent methods. I give about a quarter of my income to charities because I've seen that private charity helps the needy far better than government does.

Moore followed up with a religious lesson.
"What the nuns told me is true: We will be judged by how we treat the least among us. And that in order to be accepted into heaven, we're gonna be asked a series of questions. When I was hungry, did you feed me? When I was homeless, did you give me shelter? And when I was sick, did you take care of me?"
I'm not a theologian, but I do know that when people are ordered by the government to be charitable, it's not virtuous; it's compelled. Why would anyone get into heaven because he pays taxes under threat of imprisonment? Moral action is freely chosen action.
I was reminded of this book about charity, a review of which made this observation:
In Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism (Basic Books), Arthur C. Brooks finds that religious conservatives are far more charitable than secular liberals, and that those who support the idea that government should redistribute income are among the least likely to dig into their own wallets to help others....
RealClearPolitics - Articles - Freedom and Benevolence Go Together

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