Social justice and charity



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

  • Robert Piazza

    Social justice leads to socialism, Ben! Socialism is based on the principle of government mandating from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Capitalism is is based on the principal of voluntarily giving from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
    No matter how much lipstick you try to put on the pig it will still be a pig!
    No thank you! I will give what, how much and to whom I chose, not to whom government mandates!

  • Fred Allebach

    Capitalism is a heartless rip-off with no conscience; it’s Social Darwinism, an ideology to justify the merchant class that then morphed into the new aristocracy with a plain as day negative track record of foxes in the hen house abuse. I’m proud to espouse socialism and communism, and Obamacare, the New Deal, unions, workplace rights, civil rights, voting rights, women’s rights, environmentalism, $15 min wage, affordable housing and down the line; these are legitimate and worthy ideals in a pantheon of ideals. McCarthyism has been shown to be just one more witch hunt. That’s over now.