The Robin Hood Syndrome

For over two centuries Americans voluntarily and willingly provided the lion’s share of social welfare, charity and education — without government subsidy. This impressive feat was accomplished through biblically based, charitable, grassroots giving through individuals, families, churches, foundations and private associations. In sharp contrast, America today suffers under the burden of confiscatory, compulsory taxation and overspending by big government. It is crippling our productivity and lowering our standard of living. Disguised as modern-day Robin Hoods, governments of the Western world (including our own government) embrace the failed philosophy of Marx and Engels and systematically steal the money and property of their own citizens. But, as Margaret Thatcher famously said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

Honest scholars know that the key to the future is always found in understanding the past. Professor Marvin Olasky documents the historically proven method of decreasing much of our government's bloated welfare budgets, which comprise most of our spending and have burdened us with trillions upon trillions of dollars in unfunded, unsustainable liabilities. Olasky shows that privately directed Christian compassion has been the major social welfare net of Western Civilization for 1600 years and that it can, even in the 21st century, save our societal structure from a catastrophic collapse.

America, from its inception, was a Christian experiment. Every institution, including charities for the truly needy, the elderly, and the infirm, was based upon biblical values. The same was once true of educational institutions. From the time of the Pilgrims, the colonies were a shining example to the world, "a City on a Hill." With restricted government and low taxes they managed to create the world's greatest nation out of a barren wilderness in only two centuries.

By the 1840s [private] societies to help the 'worthy poor' were springing up in every major American city. To this day the most effective care for the needy comes from America's army of Christian charities, many of which were founded in the 19th century.

Throughout most of the 19th century, 90% of all charity and welfare was Christian and private. This care provided spiritual renewal, teaching in character skills and occupational training needed to promote upward economic mobility. All this cost the taxpayer little, since it was accomplished on a local, personal level. America, without the burden of government welfare, maintained low taxes and created a model of economic freedom and mobility unheard of in history. The American standard of living increased 900% in the 19th century.

But by the 1850s, a destructive philosophy that promoted a coercive, ever-expanding government began seeping into the American psyche through men like New York publisher Horace Greeley, a Universalist (one who believes that all men are saved and good). Greeley promoted the idea that private wealth should be divided up by the government to level the playing field (a form of theft, in reality). He also believed that government should manage all care of the poor. Greeley's ideas were radically socialistic, pre-dating the dogma of Karl Marx.

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