You Shouldn’t Need A Government Permit To Help Your Neighbor
I’ve written before about this trend in government putting regulatory roadblocks between charitable organizations and those they’re seeking to help, but a couple of recent stories caught my attention proving that the phenomena is still happening.
In Houston a city councilwoman defied a local ordinance requiring a permit to feed the homeless:
In Philadelphia the city council told a woman who was feeding the homeless out of her garage, using food provided by a local Catholic church, would have to get a permit or face a $600/day fine.
A woman may be fined $600 for each day she provided free food to children in a poor Philadelphia neighborhood for the past few months.
Angela Prattis, 41, of Chester Township has been distributing free healthy lunches in a neighborhood that has a per capita income of $19,000 a year.
Prattis made no money from the meal distribution, and gave out food provided by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The “lunch lady” ran the charity out of her garage, to which about 60 children came, five days a week.
After the city council was alerted of the free lunches, it ruled that she would have to acquire a variance to give away food next summer – or pay a fine of $600 a day. The council considers Prattis’ deed a zoning violation. Three months of distributing food would instigate a fine of more than $50,000.
Those who support these ordinances often talk about the public nuisance of homeless people crowding in to be fed. They talk about elevated crime, etc., etc. Perhaps those complaints have a degree of validity, but the real motivation I believe is that the government simply hates competition.
They don’t want these people helped by private individuals or organizations. They want them enrolled in some government program, administered by government bureaucrats. They don’t want individuals out there just helping one another willy-nilly. Charity must flow through government-approved channels.
Which is perhaps the saddest commentary on the state of our democracy I could imagine.Tags: big government, charity, homeless