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Friday, September 1, 2017

Hurricane Harvey and the Beauty of Generosity

Americans are the most generous people on the planet

Private, voluntary relief assistance, from the standpoint of freedom and civil society, is preferable over government bureaucracy and involuntary redistribution. I have every confidence that in the absence of government aid, Americans are every bit as compassionate with their own support as politicians are with other people’s money.

Americans are still the most generous people on the planet. But if the federal government is going to send tens of billions of dollars, why wouldn’t it be a good idea for it to prioritize for a change? This is what it means to live within a budget.

President Trump should say, “Rather than further burden future generations by adding to this year’s half-trillion dollar deficit and the $20 trillion national debt, whatever we spend on Harvey will be off-set dollar for dollar by reductions in spending elsewhere.” Is there nothing in the bloated federal budget less important than this? How about the Department of Education? If you need a list of where to cut, Mr. Trump, just give me a call.

Regardless of what you may think of President Trump or his policies, or federal disaster relief, his personal decision to donate $1 million of his own money is praiseworthy. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, get out your check books. I predict that donation patterns in the wake of Harvey will be as they always are, namely, that people who consider themselves politically “conservative” or “libertarian” will give far more of their own resources and time than “progressives” who think government walks on water will give.

Boundless gratitude is due to the many fine people and organizations who are giving or are otherwise involved in the relief efforts not because any government ordered them to, but because of a sincere, heartfelt desire to assist. The scam artists and the hypocrites are always with us, but are thankfully still overwhelmed by the good-heartedness of good people. I include in this all the people and organizations who are helping pets and animals in the rescue effort, as well as people and property.

I hope the rest of the world takes note that Americans, in spite of decades of corrosive welfare state ideology that undermines self-reliance and personal responsibility, are still the most generous on the planet.

  • Lawrence W. Reed is FEE's President Emeritus, having previously served for nearly 11 years as FEE’s president (2008-2019). He is also FEE's Humphreys Family Senior Fellow and Ron Manners Global Ambassador for Liberty. His Facebook page is here and his personal website is