Despite Liberal Squealing, Meals On Wheels Proves Private Charity Works Best

The essential difference between liberals and conservatives comes down to the role of government versus the social responsibility of individuals. Conservatives see government as a necessary intrusion into individual liberty, but in no way supplanting individual responsibility to be productive, charitable, and useful members of society. Liberals see individuals as servants of the government’s ends, to enforce arbitrary social contracts in the name of so-called “progress.”

Meals on Wheels serves as an almost perfect example of this division, and why liberals have it so wrong in America. CNN reported Monday that last Thursday, the organization received 50 times the typical amount of daily donations after liberals reacted in outrage over President Trump’s proposed budget cuts.

I’d bet that the average American wouldn’t have known whether Meals on Wheels was a government organization or a private charity before the while brouhaha began. But in fact, the national office of the organization only receives 3 percent of its funding from the government, according to CNN.

Local offices, of which there are more than 5,000, receive varying levels of government funding through the HHS Community Development Block Grant program which the Trump budget proposes to eliminate. Some offices, such as one CNN cited outside Detroit, up to 30 percent of the budget comes from CDBG money.

But now, the public has stepped up and given, both their money and their time. Jenny Bartolette, a spokeswoman for Meals on Wheels America told CNN that volunteer sign-ups increased by 500 percent.

Several local Meals on Wheels organizations said they had received similar support. Metro Meals on Wheels, which covers Minneapolis and St. Paul, said the group received about 40 donations in the past 24 hours, well over the usual average of three or four donations a day.

“The good news that it has rallied folks around the cause and reminded folks that they can’t really take these kinds of services for granted,” said Patrick Rowan, executive director of Metro Meals on Wheels. “It’s reassuring that the public has stepped up.”

Similarly, Ellen Horwitz of Meals on Wheels of West Los Angeles said there’s been an “abundance of people calling in the last two days saying, ‘Can we help?'”

Liberals would like to claim that this increased support somehow validates the argument that the government should continue to fund such a critical organization. But that’s simply not true. Public reaction points us to precisely the opposite conclusion.

When a charity organization doing good works is allowed to share its message wide and far, Americans respond quickly and effectively–and privately. Americans are giving people, and support all kinds of charities from Compassion International, to World Vision, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, Nechama and Convoy of Hope. And those are just the religious organizations.

The problem is when charities become too reliant on government funding. Then they start jumping through hoops to get grants rather than presenting their needs to the community they serve. When those needs are brought to the forefront, people respond.

Trump’s OMB Director Mike Mulvaney got it right.

“I think it’s probably one of the most compassionate things we can do,” he said. “I think it’s fairly compassionate to go to [taxpayers] and say, look we’re not gonna ask you for your hard-earned money anymore … unless we can guarantee to you that that money is going to be used in a proper function.”

Liberals want taxpayers to fund everything, and let government to decide who is worthy of help. Conservatives realize that we all have a responsibility to help our neighbors, the poor, sick, widows and orphans.

Liberals believe that government is a panacea because they believe the worst about people and therefore lower expectations of society. Conservatives believe that individuals will rise to expectations if they are given the truth and an opportunity. Meals on Wheels is the Rorschach test for both, but in reality proves the latter.

When the Government Steps Out, the Community Should Step Up

When President Trump released his proposed budget blueprint earlier this week, it was revealed that Meals on Wheels, a long running program that delivers meals to the elderly, and shut-ins in communities around the country, would be sliced from the federal budget.

On Thursday, Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said:

“We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good,” said Mulvaney. “Meals on Wheels sounds great … but to take the federal money and give it to the states and say, look, we want to give you money for programs that don’t work — I can’t defend that anymore.”

But has the Meals on Wheels program been working?

Meals on Wheels, which provides food to individuals who are unable to leave their homes, says it served more than 219 million meals to 2 million seniors last year.

That’s a lot.

In 2013, CNN Money reported that federal funding for Meals on Wheels and related services accounted for 0.02% of the federal budget.

The Meals on Wheels organization say they receive around 35% of their funding from the federal government, as administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Understandably, there is fallout related to the budget announcement.

The virtue signaling has begun.

So have the donations.

“We received 50 times the normal amount of donations yesterday,” Jenny Bertolette, vice president of communications at Meals on Wheels, told Yahoo News Friday. “Local programs fundraise individually and we can assume that there was likely a groundswell of local support, as well.”

Bertolette said the group also “saw an almost 500 percent jump in volunteer sign-ups through our Ad Council website.”

This may be the greatest unintended consequence of the entire debacle.

While I’m sure there are many who are pulling out their debit cards or check books, all while grumbling in disbelief that we now have a U.S. president who seems oblivious to the needs of our elderly and infirm, they have been inspired to care for the least of these.

Back in the early days of our nation’s existence, families and communities cared for their own. The church also played a role in picking up the slack, in terms of feeding and clothing those in need.
Neighbors knew each other, because they checked up on each other.

With Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” program from 1964, however, government became both king and daddy, placing the onus of care into the hands of a bulky, disconnected federal overlord.

Those federal programs, meant to be Johnson’s “war on poverty” have rarely been proven to lift anyone out of poverty, and have, in fact, encouraged a sedentary attitude towards self-help, growing, rather than defeating poverty.

Charity and the care of others is always best handled when you make it personal.

Proverbs 14:31 (NIV) says: “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

Likewise, Matthew 25:40 (NASB) says: “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

We’re instructed to care for others and to help those who can’t help themselves.

It’s a big mistake liberals are making with this budget announcement, as many of them suddenly discover their surprising new respect for the teaching of Jesus Christ.

Sure, they’ll ignore everything else the Bible teaches, but in this instance, they’ve got religion.

But they ignore the obvious: Things like grace, charity, humility, and aid to the poor and elderly are to be personal, not government compelled.

We have an opportunity to grow compassionate, involved communities, again. Where Big Government has failed our society, we shouldn’t be so quick to see the end of federal money as a crisis, but rather, a challenge to be better neighbors.

You’re Going to Hell if You Support Cutting Meals on Wheels Funding

The political left wants us all to know that Christians have a duty to take care of the poor. Consequently, if you do not oppose President Trump’s budget plan to cut funding for Meals on Wheels, you are going to hell. Leave it to liberals to tie your salvation to support of a government program. You must both bake the cake and fund the welfare program, bigot.

The argument is absurd. The Bible does tell Christians they must aid the widows, orphans, poor, and refugees. But the Bible says nothing about funding a government program to do so. It is the responsibility of the individual and church to do so. As the New York Times has noted, conservatives take that obligation seriously and are more charitable than the left.

[H]ouseholds headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.

Other research has reached similar conclusions. The “generosity index” from the Catalogue for Philanthropy typically finds that red states are the most likely to give to nonprofits, while Northeastern states are least likely to do so.

When liberals say the charitable giving data are premised on myths, what they claim is that Christians are giving to churches, which are not necessarily helping the poor. That is the premise of their rebuttal.

But the truth is that many church ministries are far more effective and efficient with charitable dollars than the government is with tax dollars in helping the poor. The Southern Baptists are usually the first into disaster areas providing relief. After Katrina, the Southern Baptists beat Walmart, the Red Cross and FEMA into southern Mississippi and Louisiana.

I support cutting the funding of Meals on Wheels. I think it should be each individual’s obligation to help their family and those in need in their community. The fall back should be churches, local civic organizations, and the local government. Administering a one size fits all federal government program actually breaks down communities and shrivels up the capacity of local charitable organizations, particular of the religious variety. Liberals clear their conscience by making everyone fork over tax dollars and then absolving themselves of their personal responsibility. Meanwhile, conservatives still contribute to churches and charities to help the poor.

I firmly believe assistance to the poor would be more effective if left to local communities and local charities instead of through a government program. If liberals object, they can make a tax deductible contribution to Meals on Wheels. Conservatives already are. But liberals would rather claim Donald Trump’s budget is against Christianity than actually get their hands dirty or their wallets lighter by helping the poor themselves.

Again quoting from the New York Times:

Conservatives also appear to be more generous than liberals in non-financial ways. People in red states are considerably more likely to volunteer for good causes, and conservatives give blood more often.

Stop telling me that support for government spending cuts is un-Christian or that it means I hate the poor. What it really means is that you would rather abdicate personal responsibility to the government rather that put your own money into the problem. I, like many more conservatives than liberals, both pay my taxes and donate to charities to help the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the refugees.