A friend’s comment about the passing of Senator Kennedy:
It takes a certain kind of person who has everything he needs, but is more concerned about helping others get what they need than he is about keeping what is rightfully his. Ted Kennedy was that kind of person.
She’s not very precise about what she admires–does she admire that in his personal life, Ted Kennedy gave his own money away to the needy? Or does she admire that in his political career, Senator Kennedy gave so many tax dollars to the needy? Knowing her, I think it’s less of the former and more of the latter.
Now, I may be putting words in her mouth, but think carefully about charity: it means giving what is rightfully yours to the needy. That’s not what politicians do, because they’re spending other people’s money.
Politicians take money from Person A (taxation) in order to give it to Person B (welfare transfer). Sometimes it’s because the politicians think Person B needs the money more than Person A. Sometimes it’s because Person B promises votes or campaign contributions to the politicians. Either way, if Person A doesn’t pay up, he goes to jail. That’s not admirable on the politicians’ part, and it certainly isn’t charitable. The best we can hope for is that it’s the most efficient way to help Person B, but it probably isn’t that, either.
Ted Kennedy giving away what was rightfully his was admirable. Senator Kennedy giving away what was rightfully somebody else’s was not. Same goes for any politician.
Allow me to beat a dead horse and tinker with her quote a little bit. Suppose my friend had written this (my changes are in italics and boldface):
It takes a certain kind of person who has everything he needs, but is more concerned about helping others get what they need than he is about letting others keep what is rightfully theirs. Ted Kennedy was that kind of person.
I think that’s a more precise statement about his political career. Thoughts?