March 27, 2002
Beginning most notably with Davy Crockett, statesmen throughout United States history have argued that it is unjust for Congress to finance purely charitable projects with tax revenues. Spokesmen for high principles, they have been largely ignored and sometimes vilified. In America—the most generous country in the world—to speak out against charity is simply not done.
Nonetheless, the moral problem inherent in tax-funded charity is serious enough to have generated controversy in connection with one of the most emotionally compelling compensation programs ever enacted by Congress. Profuse, critical, even bitter public comments followed the Government’s publication in December of the interim rules by which the Victim Compensation Fund would be administered. Protesters chafed under the realization that Congress was using their tax dollars—as one put it—“to make millionaires out of the 9/11 victims.”