Charity acquits government of responsibility for equality

Charities must go. The solution is perhaps that the government must buy out all charities, raise taxes, provide a ‘charitable causes decision unit’, and fund each according to assessed needs. Here I will outline three reasons why charities should be banned.
  1. Economic

    Charity is clearly a way in which richer people can contribute to the equal distribution of wealth by giving freely by acts of compassion. In this sense it boosts economic growth (by recycling capital from capitalists), and increases socioeconomic equality.

    However, the implementation is highly unsatisfactory. Charities, by their nature, must compete with each other for public empathy. Most commonly this involves spending money on advertising. This money could better be spent on the charity’s cause itself. It should not be acceptable for donated money to be spent on anything other than the structures that actually provide help. One could argue that advertising raises public awareness of the problem the charity is designed to solve. But what good does raising public awareness do? It simply helps a charity get more money, because charity relies on empathy. [See section 3]. But if this is regarded as an ‘investment’, we could equally ask, should charities be allowed to invest donated money?

    Charities, as regulated bodies, have obligations to the public to spend carefully. But the constant need to promote a cause leads to exaggerations and distortions of needs. The market in which charities compete is not even a fair one: the more a charity has to invest in advertising, the more attention and therefore money it will receive. The bias is towards charities that are already larger, so that the partitioning of money is distorted compared to needs. One could argue that smaller scale charities in fact need more than larger ones by proportion, as they have higher overheads, and also require more research since their areas are less well understood.

  2. Public should not decide on such issues

    Moreover, most people in general will never know enough to make the best decision about where money should go. Consider a small sum of money from each person. If it were pooled together, there is an optimal way of distributing it, to benefit society. This will depend on:
    • all the possible charities: their goals, aims, and beliefs
    • their financial mechanism: what they plan to spend on, how much, how often, and how long for.
    • the number and type of people who will be benefited
    • the amount of benefit (utility) each person will get
    1. Knowing all this about every charitable cause is no mean feat, and requires a large coordinated civil department to digest this information, examine the needs of the state, and create an allocation plan between the causes. It is evidently wrong to place this matter in the hands of people who are informed on the basis of small numbers of adverts, each of which pleads only its own cause. [cf my arguments against true democracy, and for totalitarianism]
    2. Even in a situation where we credit the public with knowledge and understanding of all this, we are still far from a democratic situation, because a small number of rich people own the whole vote!
  3. Adverts and awareness of suffering can be psychologically harmful

    Often it is argued that knowing that other people are suffering is essential for normal human nature:
    • it provides us with perspective on our own fortune (makes us feel better about ourselves)
    • it makes us feel better about paying tax
    • it is our right to know things about other people
    • it is the right of suffering people, that we know about them However, the opposite view is rarely stressed:
    1. Raising public awareness is distracting for the public. People have other things to do than think about charities. Feeling miserable about other people’s misfortune is both unpleasant for the well-off, and also degrading for the sufferers. Mental energy spent on emotions directed at anonymous, unidentifiable individuals is arguably far less human and wholesome than emotions directed towards friends and acquaintances. [cf giving to a tramp]. The overdramatisation of charitable needs, for example with images and individual case stories (which is a consequence of the competitive market for empathy) is a failed attempt to overcome this, and probably both demeans the recipient and vexes the potential donor.
    2. The feeling of obligation to pay an unspecified amount generates nausea/angst. There is no limit to how generous one can be: it creates a tension between the self and the other. The anonymity of both benefactor and recipient guarantees that the sole psychological effect of charity on the donor is guilt, which can only be absolved by donation.
    3. There are instances where receiving charity can promote helplessness. It even generates the feeling of a right to such benefits: although often it is true that individuals have rights to these benefits, it is very rarely a good thing that feeling that one has these rights is a good thing. It leads to feelings of unrest with others, of being owed or short-changed, and resentment. Such feelings may not be out of place when directed at a bad government; however they are unacceptable when directed at the public, or unknown individuals. [e.g. rude beggar]


  • Rich hermits who die cannot bequeath money to charity: 100% tax applies.
  • Charities that run as trusts, operating entirely from invested capital, may remain under the condition they receive no further donations.
  • An option open to hermits, is therefore, to set up a company before they die, responsible for spending their money as intended. But you may ask, how does this differ from charities? Not a great deal, but at least it does no harm to the rest of the public.
  • What about large capitalist corporations that regularly donate to charity? Although this appears a good thing at first sight, all three criticisms apply here. Producing corporate identity and good ethos are commendable but flawed. There needs to be a system where profits are taxed highly, so that companies that attain a level of success must de jure contribute.