Stop “Giving Back”

I’ve mentioned a couple of times before that I think referring to charitable activity as “giving back” is both insidious and stupid. Since I like to think I’m smart and smart people agree with me, I’m always happy to post a quote from a smart person who agrees with me. So, here’s William Yavelak in The American Thinker, totally agreeing with me:

The term “charity” is still used quite frequently, but always in association with this vague notion that something is being returned to someone. Why use the term ‘back’? Why aren’t they just giving? Who took something? When did they take it? How did they get away with it? Why was no one sent to jail?

Giving “back” implies that the property they are giving to the various groups was somehow once ‘taken’ from those groups in some sense. This is the evil idea that has been propagated (sometimes knowingly, sometimes not) by collectivists for, well, forever.

When those who have property or wealth have come by it by looting or parasitizing their fellow man, as occurs in feudalism, tribalism, socialism, fascism, communism, (and crony capitalism), then, yes, for such a wealthy man to give to another in need could be considered ‘giving back.’ But in a free politico-economic system of capitalism, wealth is created by individuals who think and exert themselves to provide a product or service which is demanded by the freely choosing people who make up the market as a whole.

So to say that the pro golfer or any honest wealthy man is “giving back” is tantamount to saying that, like the despots, like the tyrannical mob of socialism, like Attila, or like the feudal lord, the honest producer has in some sense ‘bled’ the public or wrenched from their grasp that which was or could or should have been “theirs.” And now, our golf announcers can benevolently nod approval that the wealthy man is somehow doing his just penance and returning some of the good life that he ‘took’ from them by ‘giving back.’ This is terrible. Though subtle, it is as great a wrong as can be committed. It is the calling the good, evil, and the evil, good. It perpetuates the uncritical ingraining of an evil idea into the vernacular, and that’s a dangerous place for an evil idea to be! It continues to fuel the hatred or resentment of the successful. It furthers the continued unthinking acceptance of the idea that all wealth is generated by a manner of theft, and that therefore rightful claim to wealth is only, at base, with those who earned or created nothing (because if you created a value, you must have had special privileges, or helpful regulations, or pull, or took advantage of workers, or, on and on…)

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