Editor, Index-Tribune:

In a recent letter to the editor, (“More social justice, less charity,” July 1), El Verano resident Mario Castillo made an astute observation that confirmed my experience working in the nonprofit sector.  “I find it interesting that we rarely equate the need for charity with social injustice,” he wrote. “I would think that, if we lived in a more just and equitable society, there would be less need for charity in our community.”  Amen to that, brother.

The inside knowledge in the nonprofit world is that, if you want to get funding, work with kids, pets or old people.  There is very little appetite (or money) for working on the structural economic conditions (the foundations of social justice) that necessitate the provision of charity.

I would much rather have affluent citizens and corporations pay their fair share to fund education, healthcare and access to affordable housing than to get a few bucks tossed in the donation bin after some nonprofit dog- and pony-show to raise charity money for those “less fortunate” ones among us.  Most wouldn’t be less fortunate if they had a fair shake and a fair shot from day one.

Castillo reinforces that theme. “We need less charity,” he stated. “We need more social justice. This would require income equality, true civil rights, a sustainable living wage, affordable housing, affordable medical care, racial and gender equality and educational opportunities, to name a few.”

That goes way beyond the usual appeals to our kindness or charity.  That’s about creating a better society, which has as its top priority making the basics of life readily accessible for all.  This is not “socialism” but elementary social justice.

Ben Boyce

Sonoma Valley