Thursday, October 30, 2008


From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Texas Samaritan buys woman her house at auction

A woman distraught over losing her house showed up to watch it auctioned off, but that wasn't the end of the story. Tracy Orr will return home after a stranger bought the house back for her Saturday.

"It means so much to all of us," Orr said. "It's not just a house."

Marilyn Mock said she decided on the spot to buy the house after striking up a conversation with a sobbing Orr at the auction Saturday. Mock was there to help her 27-year-old son bid on a house.

More here.

Marxists have been making this point for many, many years, but it's well worth repeating in this day and age. This woman who bought back the house for its previous owner is clearly being extraordinarily nice. I mean, fuckin' a, that's really really really nice. If I'd just lost my house to foreclosure and had it bought back for me, I'd be eternally grateful. After all, I'd have my house back.

But the wealthy and kind hearted Ms. Mock is only buying one house.

Okay sure, it isn't reasonable to expect an individual, or groups of individuals, to solve the world's social ills with their altruism--as an extreme example, these hypothetical generous folks would send themselves to the poor house if they tried to save the world with their charity. All charitable people can do is temporarily help out a few lucky souls. That is, charity is a social dead end.

Charity is nice. Very nice. It helps some people in need. But charity does nothing to change the circumstances that put those people in need in the first place. Worse, charity gives the appearance that something is being done to ease suffering. I mean, yeah, charity does indeed ease some suffering, but does nothing to ease all suffering. And defenders of our plutocratic economic and political establishment can always point to these necessarily limited efforts to make the false assertion that the political order enriching them is fair and just. Charity is ultimately nothing but propaganda fodder for rule by the rich--it also makes the well-to-do feel much better about the fact that they have so much when so many others do not.

Ultimately, charity does nothing but perpetuate our unjust society.

Only the government has the power to actually change the economic and social circumstances that keep so many citizens down. And I'm not talking welfare: cash payments to people who don't work is the same as charity. I'm talking about making life easier for those who actually contribute to society. That means "spreading the wealth around" as Senator Obama recently put it. That means making it easier for workers to unionize. That means making access to health care, housing, and good education a right, not a privilege. That means making a society geared toward citizen empowerment instead of what we have now, a society where most citizens are utterly irrelevant to the ruling elite.

Yeah, charity is nice, really nice, but in the end, it's wildly counterproductive.