Private Charity Can’t Help Everyone
James Robertson is a very lucky unlucky man. Mr. Robertson lives in Detroit but his factor job is 21 miles away in the Detroit suburbs. He used to have a car but it broke down and he needed to start walking to work everyday. His commute took four hours. Eventually his story was covered in the Detroit Free Press and people started a kickstarter campaign so he could get a new car and pay for the insurance. He still needed to deal with a good amount of sleep deprivation because of his long-commute.
People seem to be turning to crowd sourcing a lot to pay for their necessary expenses.
This raises questions for me though. How many James Robertsons are out there? How many of them don’t get their stories in the newspaper? How many of them get their stories in the newspaper or media but are not lucky and don’t have people start kickstarter campaigns to help? How many people try and crowd source their medical bills but have their kickstarters get ignored?
I think the answer is far more people than we would like to imagine. The simple truth is that private charity can’t help everyone and sometimes you need larger and more centralized government to help the poor, the working poor, and the middle class.
James Robertson needs to walk to work because the Detroit-Metro area does not have much public transportation. The good jobs in the Detorit metro area are in suburban and expensive Oakland county. Public transportation between Detroit and the suburbs is stymied by Oakland County executive L. Brooks Paterson. How is it that some areas in the United States can have cross county and even cross state cooperation on public transportation while other areas seem stuck in quagmire. Commuter trains pour into New York City daily from the end of Long Island, northern Dutchess County, Connecticut, and New Jersey. It is harder but it is also possible to commute from Pennsylvania and Massachusetts into New York city. The San Francisco Bay Area has BART, Caltrain, AC Transit buses, and Golden Gate buses for Marin and Sonoma counties. Local control and politics were able to scale BART down from much more ambitious plans. BART could have easily gone into Marin and Sonoma counties and further east than Contra Costa county.
Conservatives and libertarians like to talk about how small and limited government and local control helps preserve liberty. There are ways in which this is undoubtably true and the Bay Area can be as liberal as it wants to be because of local control and ordinances. I am generally not a fan of electing district attorneys but I can easily see how a conservative governor can wreck havoc on San Francisco by appointing a socially conservative district attorney and have it be great red meat for his or her base. Yet sometimes or often the effect of local control ends up being an attack against the poor who are often also members of racial and ethnic minorities. Resistance to cross-county public transportation is one way that the poor and minorities are hurt by small government. So are strict residency requirements for who can attend what school.
The reason I support more centralization is that it can be a good block against “I’ve got mine” politics. I also believe that we will never be able to help everyone with private charity. Not everyone can get a new car and insurance money via the kindness of others. Not everyone can get their chemotherapy paid for with crowd sourcing. We need fast and reliable public transportation. We need some kind of government and subsidized healthcare. I don’t see how this can happen with extreme local politics. Political bodies need to cooperate with each other.