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Acton Notes - President's Message

One of the great struggles of this long-lasting recession has been raising money for charities that are more in need than ever before. As I’ve long pointed out, charity thrives in proportion to the rise of prosperity and declines with the onset of recession. The paradox is very intense here: when people feel they can’t afford charitable contributions, it is precisely when they are needed most.

Some people say that the solution is effectively to nationalize all charitable endeavors. They say that this would remove the problem of uncertainty. The problem here is that this is not really a solution but a prescription for social stagnation and the elimination of charity altogether. Forced charity is not charity at all but merely coercion.

A much better remedy, it seems to me, is a vibrant, healthy, growing economy that enables charities to do the same in all times. We all have an interest in making this possible through the only means ever known of making prosperity possible: free enterprise within a juridical framework of law.

What this requires is the elimination of vast swaths of the modern public policy project that treats people as cogs in a machine, regulating lives and property as if it all belonged to the scientific planners to do with what they want.

The free economy and free society have nothing to do with such political ambitions. Freedom means something at once more mundane and more beautiful: billions of people around the world improving their lives in small ways through ownership, trade, charity, cooperation, work, and the exercise of creative volition.

The work of the Acton Institute is more in demand than ever. Thank you for your wonderful support in good times and bad.