‘How we use our money is a moral issue.’ Ah, yes. About that …

So it was said yesterday, to impugn the “morality” of someone who uses his money in this way:

To mitigate the effects of the federal government shutdown that spanned the first half of October, the John William Pope Foundation has announced $185,000 in grants to humanitarian charities in central, eastern, and western North Carolina.

“The Pope Foundation is always honored to help these vital humanitarian nonprofits with financial support, support that is leveraged by their great volunteers and staff,” said Art Pope, President and Chairman of the Pope Foundation.

“With the added uncertainty and potential increase in need due to a partial federal government shutdown, the Pope Foundation decided to give earlier and more to help these private and volunteer charitable institutions fill the gap and offer a hand up to those most in need,” Pope said. …

The grants are:

Those gifts can be added to the $8 million’s worth of donations to humanitarian causes over the past quarter century to many different “organizations and ministries that help people become self-sustaining, self-reliant individuals,” including

That figure doesn’t include all the other forms of giving: to the community, to the arts, to education, etc. A blog post’s demands for brevity counsel against a thorough cataloguing of all the many, many gifts over the years.

Brief as my post is, the peddlers of politically defined morality can be expected to hide all such information. Deliberately omitting truth isn’t technically lying under the political definition of morality, you see.

Perhaps it is easier to pretend such gifts don’t exist than to make explicit the underlying assumption that a gift is only praiseworthy if the giver is a political “liberal” who would rather poor people were government-sustained, government-reliant individuals.

That would, perhaps, explain their complete lack of understanding of what a great service it is to the poorest among us to provide low-priced goods and essentials in their own neighborhoods. They ignore how important it is to extend the buying power of their relatively few dollars. They act as if it is morally wrong for someone to make a profit for bringing goods to the poor at prices lower than others are offering — as if he is supposed to give the goods away (and of course if he did, it would not be reported or acknowledged).

But that’s it — it’s an act. The argument suffers from terminal internal contradictions, as do all ad hoc justifications. The case against Art Pope, as he well knows, is that he isn’t a liberal philanthropist. Credit his opponents with enough sense of shame that they cannot make that case so blatantly, which is why they are left trying to demonize his practical service to the poorest among us through the provision of lower-priced goods and obliterate any record of his direct gifts to organizations serving the poorest among us.

Art Pope and his family have done more actual, practical good for the poor in North Carolina than all but a very few others in this state. For someone to miss that fact, to be so poisoned by partisan politics, is to be a soul worth pitying, but not worth heeding. Especially, I would say, on the subject of morality.

Update 1
Shortly after I wrote this post, John Stossel penned a column on how capitalism — and entrepreneurs in particular — help the poor. He quotes Bono on the subject of aid to the poor:  “Aid is just a stopgap. Commerce, entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty.”

To which I add Gary Becker’s quotation, with which I am in full agreement:

The greatest beneficiaries of capitalism are those at the bottom of the income ladder. That’s why I favor capitalism. Were that not the case, I would not be in favor of capitalism. Milton Friedman feels the same way.

Update 2
The Pope Foundation released its list of December grantees. They included giving to help the destitute, feeding the poor, even financially helping the families of stricken children, along with supporting the arts, furthering education, promoting medical missions, helping homeless animals, and helping the jobless not just find work but learn the skills that keep them employable.

All in all, the Pope Foundation’s gifts total over $1 million to humanitarian and arts organizations in 2013. My post on that subject contains a trick question for Pope’s critics.

One comment

  1. Hear, hear!

    Comment by jweaks on December 3, 2013 at 1:48 pm

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