Xenophobia is Poor Public Policy

by Don Boudreaux on February 5, 2007

in Charity, Current Affairs, Immigration

My friend Ryan Young has this very nice letter published in today’s edition of the Washington Post:

The Jan. 31 front-page article "Va. House Approves Bill on Illegal Immigration; Aim Is to Block Access to State, Local Funds" provided a real-world example of why government should not be in the business of funding charities: The money comes with strings attached.

In this case, charities that accept funds from the state would no longer be allowed to give aid to illegal immigrants.

Put another way, these charities would essentially be required by law to be xenophobic. They would also lose their right to decide for themselves whom they help. Certain state legislators would rather make that decision for them.

The only way for charities to avoid being bullied like this is to refuse state aid.

If this legislation makes it to the desk of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), I hope he has the good sense to veto it.


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Robert Coté February 5, 2007 at 11:02 am

Better example of poor public policy is one of labelling legislation that taxpayer money goes where intended as xenophobic. By this logic voting requirements are xenophobic. There's nothing unusual about state monies coming with strings attached and nothing unusual about state benefits being dispersed based on qualifications.

The issue of charitable support stripped of the inflammatory rhetoric is a legitmate public policy concern. At one end is taxing charities and the other open coffers. My only observation is that practical government is a messy business ill suited to absolutes.

atr February 5, 2007 at 12:02 pm

IF this law would reduce the amount of state (taxpayer) money distributed to charities, it's a good law.

python February 5, 2007 at 1:22 pm

What year was it when "limited government" became "limiting government"?

faultolerant February 5, 2007 at 2:50 pm

I fail to see what Mr. Young is so upset about. But I do agree that private charities shouldn't be accepting state money – full stop.

If a charity accepts funds then those funds may come with strings. There are private donors who attach conditions to their donations to charities. Why is it that the State can't do so?

If you don't like the conditions of the donation, then don't accept the donation. That's a pretty simple calculation. Maybe it's too simple……

The hoary canard that charities will be required to become "xenophobix" is utter rubbish. The term "xenophobia" was applied by the author and is an emotional perspective, not one based in reason.

happyjuggler0 February 5, 2007 at 11:12 pm

Excepting possibly basic scientific research, government simply ought not be giving money to charities to begin with. Therein lies the whole source of the problem, not xenophobia, although xenophobia may indeed by a different problem.

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