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This Thanksgiving, Here Are 6 Ways the Government Suppresses Charity

Government has repaid acts of service with exorbitant fines and misdemeanor charges.

Todsaporn Bunmuen/Dreamstime.comTodsaporn Bunmuen/Dreamstime.comThanksgiving is a pretty self-explanatory holiday: It's a time to take stock of one's blessings. Over the years it has also evolved into a time to eat far too much turkey, to argue with relatives about politics, to watch football—and to help the less fortunate. Each November, millions of Americans volunteer at soup kitchens, participate in charity races, or find other ways to help the needy.

Philanthropy isn't limited to Thanksgiving, of course. Many people and organizations work year-round to aid the sick, the poor, and the hungry. Unfortunately, their efforts are often hindered by the government. Here are six times the government didn't quite get the spirit of charity in 2018:

  1. Good Samaritans were charged with misdemeanors after feeding the homeless near San Diego.

In January, a group of Good Samaritans spent Martin Luther King holiday weekend feeding the homeless in El Cajon, California. El Cajon police officers spent the weekend handing out citations to the volunteers. A 14-year-old girl was among the people cited.

The city council had previously passed an "emergency" law to prevent the feeding of the homeless out of supposed concern for Hepatitis A. It was actually unlikely that the disease was being spread by non-homeless people passing out free food. Still, the ban turned turned the charity work into a misdemeanor offense. A group called Break the Ban deliberately broke the rule, both to help the homeless and to bring attention to the overreaching law.

  1. A San Francisco landlord was fined for housing low-income vets.

The city of San Francisco is in the middle of a housing crisis. To help alleviate the burden on low-income veterans, San Francisco landlord Judy Wu converted 12 of her properties into 49 housing units. But the local zoning rules allowed for only 15 dwellings, so the city fined Wu $8 million and ordered most of the units dismantled.

City attorney Dennis Herrera tried to paint Wu as someone taking advantage of the disadvantaged. Yet her tenants indicated that they did not wish to move away. At least one described her as someone who had helped them rebuild their lives with respect and humanity. Nonetheless, the city evicted them.

  1. Police shut down a charity lemonade stand in Denver.

Over the summer, two young brothers in Denver went to Charity International and found a five-year-old Indonesian boy in need of assistance. The Knowles boys set up a lemonade stand near the Denver Arts Festival, hoping to donate the proceeds to the Indonesian. They charged 75 cents for a cup of lemonade, or $1 for two.

After they'd raised $200, the boys' operation was shut down by police. If they wanted to stay in business, they were told, would need to purchase a permit for $125 a day. That's more than half of the money they raised. The boys' mother suspects that another vendor, who was selling lemonade for $7 a cup, may have had a hand in the cops' arrival.

Country Time lemonade has offered to pay the lemonade fines and permit costs for up to a year for kids in similar predicaments.

  1. A North Carolina woman was arrested for sheltering pets during a hurricane.

Tammie Hedges wanted local pets to have a safe place to stay as Hurricane Irma made landfall in September. So her nonprofit, Crazy's Claws N' Paws, took in 27 pets, and volunteers made sure they were taken care of round the clock.

Days later, Hedges was arrested and charged with administering medicine to the pets without a license. Most of the charges, Hedges told the Goldsboro News-Argus, were a result of her administering amoxicillin, which is used to treat bacterial infections.

After her story went viral, the county announced it was dismissing the charges. But a statement from the district attorney suggested it was simply the bad publicity that led prosecutors to give up on the case. The local government has not addressed the larger issue: Volunteers are often best equipped to save animals during disasters, and those who donate their time to care for pets certainly shouldn't be punished.

  1. Kansas City officials would rather bleach food than let the homeless eat it.

The nonprofit group Free Hot Soup showed up at four different locations November 4 with hot food for the homeless. City officials responded by seizing their chili, sandwiches, and soup and soaking them in bleach. The health department and Mayor James Sly claimed this was an issue of food safety: Free Hot Soup didn't have a permit to feed the homeless, so the city hadn't been able to check whether the food is safe to eat. Never mind the fact that the organization's food comes from volunteers who help out when they can, making it near impossible for the city to inspect every kitchen where food might be prepared.

Free Hot Soup was back at it the following week—but at least at one location, volunteers had to serve less healthy prepackaged foods rather than hot meals.

  1. An Akron landowner has had to fight the city to keep the homeless on his property.

Sage Lewis, a wealthy businessman and former candidate for mayor of Akron, Ohio, lets homeless people camp out in tents behind a commercial building he owns in a poor part of town. But his nonprofit, The Homeless Charity, doesn't have a zoning permit for a tent city, and officials don't want to give it one.

Originally, the city said the homeless had until November 23—the day after Thanksgiving—to vacate the premises, though that deadline has since been extended by two weeks. The city is working with an anti-homelessness organization called Continuum of Care to rehouse those who are displaced. But you still have to wonder why the city thinks it can stop a private landowner from letting needy people live on his property in the first place.

Government apologists often argue that without coercion (read: taxes), the disadvantaged will not have their needs met. So why spend those taxes trying to deter people from helping one another?

Photo Credit: Todsaporn Bunmuen/Dreamstime.com

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  • KingOfRedPigs||

    I believe #4 was Hurricane Florence, not Irma.

  • BigT||

    It's all about power and control. Freedom is subject to asking permission. Morality can never get in the way of the state.

    Give thanks that the US is still far better than almost everywhere else.

  • BigT||

    Interesting that the 2 CA governments refused to back down, strictly enforcing the rule of (stupid) law.

    With illegal immigrants, not so much. F CA.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    It's not CA specifically. It's progressives . They need to go.

  • SQRLSY One||

    It is clearly NOT about "doing good", strictly speaking... It is about Government Almighty "doing good", especially "doing good" for its own powers!

    As another example, I would point out that in my state (plus others I imagine), real estate taxes are largely "for the purpose of educating the kids"... Yet the private schools are real-estate-taxed to fund the public schools!!! You can see this clearly, right? It is NOT about "education", it is about Government Almighty education only!!!!

  • Jerryskids||

    Government apologists often argue that without coercion (read: taxes), the disadvantaged will not have their needs met.

    They're not doing so well meeting the needs of the disadvantaged with coercion, either.

    And people sneer at libertarians who propose leaving people alone - without government programs to fix these things, how will these things get fixed? As long as I've been alive, the government's been run by the (D)'s and the (R)'s and the Administrative State and they've been spending trillions of dollars to fix problems and nothing gets fixed. Libertarians can't fix things either, but they won't spend trillions of dollars not fixing things and isn't that good enough?

    But then you've got libertarians who, when they're challenged to explain how things will get fixed if they get rid of all these government programs to fix things, start trying to explain how things will get fixed under libertarianism. No! You're criticizing somebody attempting to build a perpetual motion machine and they're saying "Oh, yeah? Well, where's your plans for a perpetual motion machine, Mister Smart Guy?" And you're showing him your plans for a perpetual motion machine! No! Stop that! Leaving people alone is good enough, defending life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a limited purpose and that's the limits of government. You want shit fixed? Go hire a plumber because it ain't the government's job to fix shit.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    This happens in mostly Lefty areas. They want as many votes from poor but dont want to address the problems of the poor.

    In much of the South, churches provide food and shelter.

    IMO, churches could earn tax exemption by providing daily services to needy. Otherwise tax churches like everyone else.

  • SQRLSY One||

    I like your suggestions here... Of course, as usual, the Devil is in the details... Who judges (and how?) if the churches etc. are really serving the poor, and by how much?

    What we currently have is absurd, though... Scientology is a totally abusive cult that abuses everyone in sight, except the very top-most church assholes, and the already-rich HollyWeird stars who are served by the Scientology slaves. Scientology can brainwash all your freedoms away, and pay their slaves a can of dogfood once a day, meeting no min-wage or other standards as all, in the name of religious freedoms. Yet a private employer (who does NOT brainwash you or enslave you) needs meet min-wage and tons more!

    And the "church" of Scientology gets tax exempted!!! Go figure!!!

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    When thinking of "church" and "abuse," informed and educated Americans generally do not think of Scientology these days.

  • SQRLSY One||

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/l.....ntologists

    The abuses of Scientology are legion, and have been so for a long-long time. If Americans aren't thinking about it much any more, it is only because the severe abuses have been going on for so long. They are most severely abusive of ex-members. They're not the only abusive religion, sure... There are "merely" the gold standard of modern-day "religious" abusiveness!

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Scientology isn't a reality on, it's a criminal enterprise .

  • Seamus||

    IMO, churches could earn tax exemption by providing daily services to needy. Otherwise tax churches like everyone else.

    Do you take the same position toward, say, opera houses, museums, and similar nonprofits catering to the privileged?

  • SQRLSY One||

    The distinction here is fairly simple and basic: When I buy a ticket to the opera or a museum, my ticket price is NOT tax deductible in any way. When I "donate" to the "Church" of Scientology, tens of thousands of dollars to get myself freed of engrams, via the E-meter, so as to learn about how my scamgrams are caused by the Cruel Galactic Emperor Zebu-Xenu and what-not clap-trap, my "donations" are fully tax deductible!!!

    The least we could do is to say, churches etc. are give tax deductions to "do good"... If your "Church" services are ONLY available for those who PAY for them... Yes, this would catch the Mormon Church and "closed communion" churches... Then you are clearly a "pay to play" outfit, not a "doing good for all" outfit... You should then be free to do your thing, but NOT to get tax-deductible status! That's just basic level-playing-field policy!

  • Eddy||

    If you make a donation to a nonprofit, like an opera company or a university (even a university with a yuuuge endowment), you can write it off your taxes.

    Should opera companies be required to prove they provide cheap seats to a certain proportion of poor people?

  • SQRLSY One||

    I don't know, that's a good question...

    I can say, the "wisdom of the crowds" is being lost here. "Scientology slave", About 7,030 results per Google... "Opera slave", About 25,300 results!!!!

    The opera is a MUCH bigger problem than Scientology!!! I stand corrected!!!! Government Almighty should be PUNISHING the opera and promoting Scientology!!!!

    (I thought I knew, but I just don't know any more!!!!)

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Ministers get tax free income. Opra singers, curatos, and other employees of nonprofits dont get tax free income.

  • Eddy||

    "IMO, churches could earn tax exemption by providing daily services to needy. Otherwise tax churches like everyone else."

    I suppose that's fine if you can rely on the government to decide, without political shenanigans, who meets objective, accurate criteria of what is and isn't service to the needy.

    Otherwise, I see greedy governments grabbing for all the church property they can find, and then *not* spending it on the needy anyway, or certainly no better than the church was.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Hey, if not for a government-NGO monopoly on social programs, where are the non-STEM graduates going to find jobs?

  • loki||

    The homeless are to eat from government approved dumpsters and live in government approved cardboard boxes only! Any deviation will result in crushing by the heavy hand of GOVERNMENT!

  • loki||

    The homeless are to eat from government approved dumpsters and live in government approved cardboard boxes only! Any deviation will result in crushing by the heavy hand of GOVERNMENT!

  • loki||

    The squirrels agree that it bears repeating.

  • Shirley Knott||

    The squirrels would consider it an upgrade to eat from dumpsters.
    As it is, they're too busy tending the fires to do anything useful.

  • DajjaI||

    The best way to help the homeless is to allow for smaller dwellings that more of them can afford. This requires changing zoning. Otherwise it becomes a competition for limited subsidized housing, and then only income cheats and bullies win.

  • mtrueman||

    "The best way to help the homeless is to allow for smaller dwellings that more of them can afford."

    You really can't get much smaller than a capsule hotel, not much bigger than a large coffin. The homeless can rent them for about $US50 a night.

  • Husker2099||

    $50 a night? Jesus, that's $1,500 a month. They can probably find an apartment for that in most places. At least any SANE place.

  • Eddy||

    It depends on why they're homeless. A certain proportion (I don't have the figures) are homeless because they're far too nuts to do much of anything about getting themselves housed.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    That's only the hardest group, of those who deserve our pity.

  • Tony||

    Food safety laws are clearly part of a conspiracy to discredit the notion that private charity could completely and totally replace the government welfare state if we just let it blossom.

    That's sarcasm, and normal people would respect libertarians more if they just admitted that they don't give a shit about people having access to basic needs if it means a billionaire has to pay taxes.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|11.22.18 @ 12:59PM|#
    "That's sarcasm, and normal people would respect libertarians more if they just admitted that they don't give a shit about people having access to basic needs if it means a billionaire has to pay taxes."

    I keep thinking one day I'll read something from you that isn't a lie, shitbag. Wrong.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    He sometimes talks about liking drinking. That's pretty real.

  • mtrueman||

    "it means a billionaire has to pay taxes."

    Most who post here are not Libertarians and closer to Trump's positions. Steve Bannon, one-time top Trump advisor and strategist, favours taxes. So much so that he proposes increasing the top rate of income tax to 44%. Granted this is aimed at millionaires who actually work for a living, rather than billionaires who live off investments.

    By the way, I thought of a 7th way government suppresses charity. If a boat filled with food and medical supplies approaches a refugee camp, kill those on board. It worked for Israel when the Mavi Marmara tried to supply the inmates of Gaza.

  • Eddy||

    I'm open to the possibility of the Israeli government being wrong. It's not as if the Israeli government is uniquely credible, it's just that their enemies are so distinctively *non*-credible. Hence I have a skeptical reaction to claims about the Israelis eating Palestinian babies or whatever. But who knows, maybe in this instance the Israelis really were trying to stop charitable aid to Gaza, anything is possible. It's just that the other scenario - a propaganda maneuvre by anti-Israel groups in order to mislead the public - seems more likely.

  • mtrueman||

    "It's not as if the Israeli government is uniquely credible, it's just that their enemies are so distinctively *non*-credible."

    Are you saying you only believe claims made by sources friendly to the Israeli government? I'd argue that such a stance might prejudice your views.

    "But who knows, maybe in this instance the Israelis really were trying to stop charitable aid to Gaza, anything is possible."

    Maybe he did kill Khashoggi, maybe he didn't, anything is possible. To quote Trump (from memory) at a recent press appearance.

  • Sevo||

    Pretty sure he's saying your an ignoramus:

    mtrueman|5.6.18 @ 1:35PM|#
    "Ferguson produces several examples of hierarchies defeating challenges from networks. "
    Stalin was more of a network guy than he was a hierarchy one. He was successful in bypassing the hierarchical structures put in place by Lenin like the politburo and the central committee, and ran the country through informal alliances with those he trusted."

    'nuff said.

  • mtrueman||

    Stalin had a network of maybe a dozen people he relied on to get things done. It comes with being a true dictator. The intricate hierarchies that populated the USSR were rubber stamps to legitimize actions already set in motion by Stalin. Those who did his dirtiest work, the Ukraine famine, were often young volunteers from the cities, eager to further the cause. They were not part of some hierarchy, not even necessarily the communist party.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|11.22.18 @ 7:16PM|#
    "Stalin had a network of maybe a dozen people he relied on to get things done. It comes with being a true dictator. The intricate hierarchies that populated the USSR were rubber stamps to legitimize actions already set in motion by Stalin. Those who did his dirtiest work, the Ukraine famine, were often young volunteers from the cities, eager to further the cause. They were not part of some hierarchy, not even necessarily the communist party."

    Cite missing, naturally, and you're full of shit.
    He had toadies to get things done, since he was obviously not able to do them all, but it was a very dangerous position; almost all ended up shot by Stalin's direct orders. And, yes, there was a VERY definite hierarchy; those favored with direct access to Staling and those further down the food chain by many steps.
    Khrushchev was one of the few who survived since that miserable thug died before Khrushchev fell out of favor. Beria lasted a couple of months more before Khrushchev had him shot.
    Most recent source: "Stalin", Oleg V. Khlevniuk.
    You should try some books instead of Readers Digest.

  • mtrueman||

    "almost all ended up shot by Stalin's direct orders."

    Being a part of Stalin's informal network was probably safer than being out of it. When the 'sealed train' carrying Lenin from Germany arrived in Petrograd, every single member of the party, aside from Lenin and Krupskaya, his partner, were eventually liquidated by Stalin. I already mentioned that he relied on a small network of people to carry out his actions, and some survived him. Khruschev and Beria were two, as you point out. There were others whom you must be aware of given your encyclopedic knowledge of the issue.

    "those favored with direct access to Stalin"

    There was very little direct access to Stalin. At party functions, his role was minimal, listening to speeches, taking notes, without speaking himself. The real work was done over the telephone or through letters to his network, bypassing the hierarchy, just as I've pointed out repeatedly.

  • Sevo||

    Given you're an idiot, where do I start taking you apart?

    mtrueman|11.22.18 @ 10:07PM|#
    "Being a part of Stalin's informal network was probably safer than being out of it. When the 'sealed train' carrying Lenin from Germany arrived in Petrograd, every single member of the party, aside from Lenin and Krupskaya, his partner, were eventually liquidated by Stalin."
    So were every one of later later toadies, except as mentioned above. So you are full of shit once more.

    "I already mentioned that he relied on a small network of people to carry out his actions,"
    Which says nothing regarding your claim of 'non-hierarchial'; perhaps you need to (attempt to) define that term so we can laugh at you once again.

    "and some survived him. Khruschev and Beria were two, as you point out. There were others whom you must be aware of given your encyclopedic knowledge of the issue."
    You could claim some few others, but I'll need to see a cite regarding their access to Stalin. Molotov and Mikoyan were already quaking in their boots, being out of favor; Bulganin was 'nervous'. Names and reliable cites, or shut up.

  • Sevo||

    More:
    "There was very little direct access to Stalin. At party functions, his role was minimal, listening to speeches, taking notes, without speaking himself. The real work was done over the telephone or through letters to his network, bypassing the hierarchy, just as I've pointed out repeatedly."
    No, you have claimed he 'bypassed the hierarchy"; you've pointed out nothing of the sort. Do you somehow imagine using a phone to contact your lieutenants is "bypassing the hierarchy"? It is the exact opposite.
    There are books available which are far better sources for information than Parade Magazine. You should read some.

  • mtrueman||

    "So were every one of later later toadies, except as mentioned above. So you are full of shit once more."

    Not true. I suggest you consult a book on the subject.

    "Which says nothing regarding your claim of 'non-hierarchial'"

    By non-hierarchical I mean relying on informal networks rather than formal institutions.

    "You could claim some few others, but I'll need to see a cite regarding their access to Stalin."

    Again, read a book on the subject. You don't need me to hold your hand.

    "Molotov and Mikoyan were already quaking in their boots"

    Their moods, whether happy, sad, calm or nervous, are irrelevant to my claim that Stalin was more of a networker and that hierarchical institutions in the USSR were rubber stamps to legitimize decisions already taken by Stalin and implemented by his informal network of moody minions.

  • Sevo||

    BTW, if you want 'non-hierarchial' try that scumbag FDR.
    He managed to set up parallel functions and agencies, lied to everyone on a regular basis, never 'considered a decision, but made it' (Eleanor), was only barely prevented from running the Allied military function of WWII by dint of very fortunate placements of key people, most of whom were there for reasons other than FDR.
    And then, that pathetic piece of shit, knowing he was near death, didn't bother to include Trueman in a single conference, either domestic or multi-national.
    We (and he) were fortunate Truman was a quick study; that scumbag stood the chance of losing WWII by his criminal negligence.

  • mtrueman||

    "BTW, if you want 'non-hierarchial' try that scumbag FDR."

    I'm not sure FDR lying to everyone indicates a non-hierarchical personality. Networkers rely on personal relations. Lying to everyone makes personal relations more difficult and untrustworthy. Making parallel agents is more of a network thing. You mustn't let these examples of Stalin and FDR prejudice you against networkers. Voltaire was probably the best example of an admirable networker. He was often at odds with the most powerful institutions of his day, the church and the crown, and had a correspondence which included thousands.

    Deleuze and Guattari have some interesting thoughts on arborescent (the tree) and rhizomatic (the potato) tendencies you might find worth reading. Check out 1000 Plateaux if you can spare the time.

  • Sevo||

    "I'm not sure FDR lying to everyone indicates a non-hierarchical personality."
    As a scumbag, I'm not surprised you picked a single comment and expanded it to suit you claims.
    Fuck off, scumbag.

  • mtrueman||

    I agree. As a scumbag, I have little choice but to choose a single comment and expand upon it to suit my scumbag claims.

  • Sevo||

    "It worked for Israel when the Mavi Marmara tried to supply the inmates of Gaza."

    Fucking lefty liar.

  • Husker2099||

    I'm far from a billionaire, or a millionaire, or even a thousandaire (is that a thing?). I feel that those who have much have a moral and ethical obligation to help those in need. But they shouldn't be forced by law to do so. It's their money. If you don't like them having it stop buying the products their companies produce. Of course, it's a lot more expensive to buy all your food from local farmers and ranchers. Not to mention it's almost impossible to get off the grid in an urban environment if you don't want to be completely homeless. I believe most major cities make it a law that you have all basic services in your home (city water, electric, gas). But if you want to do that by all means go ahead. As for the rest of us normal people trying to make a life we'll just keep on doing what we can to help those less fortunate and encourage those more fortunate to step up to the plate. I like public shaming. It get's stuff done

  • Eddy||

    The concept of a government safety net for the really poor has been around for several hundred years - it wasn't invented by modern "compassionate" progressives.

    They invented the idea of making highly overstated claims about their own virtue and about the effectiveness of their supposed remedies for poverty.

    When the private sector doesn't keep someone from starving, I'm cool with the government having a safety net. Even Hayek (to Rothbard's dismay) wanted some sort of safety net.

    It's the details which often turn out to be the problem.

  • Cranedoc||

    Feed the homeless and you get more homeless.
    Dirty buggers should work like the rest of us!

  • Here for the outrage||

    Here's your reminder that conservatives donate way more than liberals, all while fighting to lower your taxes.

    Happy Thanksgiving! Especially to you big government schmucks

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Are you saying you only believe claims made by sources friendly to the Israeli government?

    Nope. That is not what he said. Come on man, arguing with Eddy is arguing with someone who is actually willing to hear out sides. Don't ruin that by being a weenie.

  • mtrueman||

    "That is not what he said."

    He said he finds the enemies of the Israeli government non-credible, distinctly so. Frankly I admire his forthrightness. Others would claim to weigh any claims dispassionately, even though their minds are made up at the start.

    Personally, I recommend a healthy skepticism towards any claim, especially in a time of war.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|11.22.18 @ 7:05PM|#
    ""That is not what he said."
    He said he finds the enemies of the Israeli government non-credible, distinctly so"

    So it was not what he said.
    What sort of a lame intelligence does it take to misunderstand that?

  • mtrueman||

    "What sort of a lame intelligence does it take to misunderstand that?"

    One you seem unfamiliar with. Keep reading, and thank you.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|11.22.18 @ 10:16PM|#
    "One you seem unfamiliar with. Keep reading, and thank you."

    You are more than welcome, thee of lame intelligence.

  • Jim Armstrong||

    One small correction needs made in your article. The mayor of Kansas City is Sly James, not James Sly.

  • Not Governor||

    Here's how we do it in texas... We break bad laws and we carry guns while doing it. Homeless get fed and tented from the freezing temperatures and government leaves us the hell alone.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4HOBQv6SeE

  • CLM1227||

    Need a libertarian order of pro bono lawyers to take these cases to local juries and argue for nullification.

    They also need an army of libertarian journos and bloggers to document the happenings and get it into local, county, and state papers.

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