Actually, if you think about it, what a wonderful way to prevent any criticism of your organization or a societal scheme! If you can stifle debate about a topic by decrying any discussion of it as horrific, then you can pretty much do as you please in this world - and get away with it. I am not saying all charities do this - only that the more dodgy of them (even "legitimate" ones) use this cloak of sanctimoniousness to not only stifle debate - but to get others to stifle debate for them. Pretty neat trick. Sort of like religion - even to question it is to be deemed heretic and thus burned at the stake.
Others are truly more altruistic - donating to charities while heavily in debt. Sadly, these "charities" are often churches, who pressure their parishioners to "tithe" even as they suffer with staggering debts and bills. And yes, it is true that the poor donate a lot to charity - but the "charities" in question are usually their local church, not the local homeless shelter.
"There is also this to be said. It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property. It is both immoral and unfair."
Should we be relying in charities to take up the slack in terms of supplying everyday needs for our citizens, or to direct research for cures to illnesses - or whatever? Why should we rely on an inefficient patchwork of organizations - many of whom have huge fundraising costs and redundant overheads- to pay for these things? Wouldn't it make more sense to have one organization, that didn't spend all its overhead on fund-raising, to figure out who really needs the money (as opposed to which charity is deemed most fashionable or has the best fund-raising gimmick) and then distribute it more efficiently?
Of course, that smacks of Socialism - and we are against that, because for the most part, it doesn't work, or work very well. Socialist economies end up loaded with layers of bureaucrats, each with their own agenda (job preservation being #1) and often distributing money even more inefficiently than charities. As a result, more money is needed, and of course, this comes from your tax dollars.
So maybe there is no easy answer to this. But it is an interesting question - and one I am not sure I can answer.
(Digressing further - some argue we should colonize the Moon or even Mars. How do you think that would play out, in terms of social order? Could we just allow anyone to reproduce anytime as much as they wanted? Or would population - by necessity - be controlled, and who could reproduce and with whom - if we were not all just genetically engineered - would be tightly controlled. Taking this thought experiment a step further, how is the harsh Martian enviornment different from an overpopulated Earth?)
4. Charity Scams: There are two kinds of scams that go on with charities. First, there are people who scam charities, like this lady, who allegedly tried to sign up for charitable donations, using the names of 11 of her neighbor's kids. Apparently she also posted pictures of herself with these kids, asking for "help" on social media.
She went to jail. But the panhandler who has a sign saying "just evicted, three children, please help!" but uses your money for drugs and alcohol (and was not "just evicted" and does not have "three children") is, of course, not prosecuted. Like our shoeless man in the example above, there are a lot of people who really don't "need" charity, so much as want it.
Some friends of mine work at the local soup kitchen and food bank, and one quit in disgust after one year, when some folks in a luxury SUV drove up, demanding a free box of food. They drove around the block and came back and demanded a second box. When someone pointed out it they already received one, they replied, "That was for our friends in the back seat, we want one, too!"
And the charity gave them one. It is very hard to "vet" the recipients of your largess, and as a result, there are people who will scam charities for free things. My friend at the soup kitchen reports that in addition to homeless people, locals and neighbors of the soup kitchen will get in line - well dressed and well-presented - to get a free meal as well. To them, it is not a "need", but hey, they are giving away a free meal next door, and Momma don't feel like cooking tonight, so why not go?
Most charities have no way of vetting their recipients, so their attitude is, "if you claim you need it, that's OK with us!" and they hand out goods and food. And that is likely the Christian thing to do, and Christians are regularly patsies, turning the other cheek and all. And some might argue that the amount of fraud involved is small. Perhaps. But increasingly, it is lucrative.
You see, since most stores have generous return policies, people can return items donated to them by a charity and get a refund or a store credit. So you sign up for free toys from a charity, "for the kids" and then take them back to Wal-Mart for a store credit, which you then use to buy a pre-paid credit card, or to just buy something else you want instead. And some grocery stores will even take back packaged foods, as well. So there is a financial incentive to scam charities like this.
And even "innocent actors" are, in effect, scamming charities sometimes, when they ask for wants rather than needs. My late sister used to get loaves of government cheese because her husband cashed his paycheck at the bar, and thus they were "poor". But at the same time, she had cable TV. When she came crying to me about how hard she had it, I pointed out that she could increase her disposable income by $60 a month (the going rate back then) if she cut the cable and just watched free television off-the-air. And like most folks, she had a lot of justifications as to why this hole in her budget was "necessary" and not optional. I suspect her situation is not an anomaly - that there are a lot of folks out there who collect from charity, on the grounds they are "poor" while at the same time, living a fairly affluent lifestyle (by world standards). As I noted in another posting, with all the government handouts it is possible to receive, even a family with one person making "minimum wage" can lead a lifestyle that is indistinguishable from the median income middle-class of the US. Only in America can you drive to the poorhouse in your car.
On the charity side, there are a number of scams. There are just local fraudsters, who panhandle or put up postings on social media, with a long-winded sob story, begging for money. There are fly-by-night charities that have sound-alike names that call and ask for donations - and then steal your credit card number. There are "legitimate" charities that cannot be prosecuted for fraud, but spend over 90% of the money they raise on fundraising activities and salaries for the leaders (and their family members). And then there are really legitimate charities, that actually spend more than half the money raised on the object of the charity - but still pay the leaders million-dollar salaries and fly them around in first class, or on private jets. They ask us to sacrifice for charity, but of course, make no such sacrifices themselves for a cause they should be believing in more than us.
Then there are the Islamic charities that are touted at your local mosque, which turn out later on to be diverting money to terrorists. Some fun, eh? (The Catholics did the same thing, back in the day, raising money at local Churches in the US to fund the IRA. "Give us the guns to do the job!" was their pitch.)
These raise troubling issues about charities. All I can say is, vet them well. You want to make sure they are not scams just ripping off people. And you want to make sure they are not being scammed by people ripping them off.
So, do you donate to charity and if so, to who or whom? It is not an easy answer. For me, donating to charities that "help" people in the United States - the wealthiest country in the world - seems kind of stupid. You are giving money to people who already have money. Donating money to really needy people in the world - like in Africa - arguably is a better bet, but some even say that aid to this beleaguer continent is backfiring - putting local farmers out of business and causing disruptions in the economy - as well as allowing dictators and corrupt governments to thrive.
I wish there was an easy, clear-cut answer to all of this - because as I see it, there isn't.
One thing I do know is this: People who claim to be "better than us" because they donate to charity or run a charity or work for a charity, are real assholes. True altruism is anonymous. Once you attach your name to a good deed, it no longer is altruistic.