Tornado Relief the Starbucks Way

by Kenneth Hines on May 29, 2013

If you donate any amount Starbucks today for the “OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund” you’ll receive a free Tall Brewed Coffee with their thanks. And the people devastated by the tornados in Moore, OK will thank you too!

Starbucks free coffee for donation to tornado disaster

This is the way America is supposed to work. When disaster strikes we help each other. And by helping each other I don’t mean the government. I mean we help each other as individuals, families, churches, communities, fraternity organizations, etc.

Or, I should say that’s how we used to do it.

But that’s not what you see in the media. Our television screens are filled with images of politicians swooping in savior-like promising millions of dollars in relief to aid the victims of natural disasters. Just look at Obama and Christie taking their victory walk in New Jersey. If you think they are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts you’re wrong. Politicians are first and foremost maintaining and expanding their power. And there’s nothing like a disaster to help them do that.

Like I said, it wasn’t always this way. It used to be that when we were in trouble we depended on each other in our various free and voluntary associations. But now our first – and often our only – reaction is to depend on the government when trouble comes. And this is the way the State likes it. It wants us to be dependent on the government for everything. That’s how they keep their power.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. How can we as individuals, families, and communities take care of hundreds even thousands of people to the tune of billions of dollars in loss? For example, the damage from the tornado that hit Moore, OK last week is estimated to cost upwards of $3.5 billion.  As many as 20,000 buildings were damaged and 4,000 to 5,000 were completely destroyed. Almost all were residential.  Hurricane Sandy was the second-costliest storm in our nation’s history. As the Huffington Post reports, there was an “estimated damage caused by Sandy at $50 billion, greater than any U.S. hurricane except Katrina, which in 2005 caused $108 billion in damage, or $128 billion adjusted to 2012 dollars. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 caused $26.5 billion in damage in Florida, or the equivalent of $44 billion today.”  With mind-boggling numbers like these the unquestioned thinking is that only the government (and usually this means the federal government) is big enough to come to the victims’ rescue. But there is one huge mistake in this thinking:

The government has no money!

That’s right. No government has any money of its own with which to rescue anyone from natural disasters. The only money the government has is what it takes from us – the people who work and are forced to pay taxes. Then the politicians spend our money in ways that increase their own power and wealth under the guise of “the common good.” But every time there is a spending bill in Congress it is loaded with extraneous and unrelated expenditures all designed to pander to lobbyists and their constituencies.

This would not be the case if we were to keep our own money and use it as we see fit instead of letting Washington politicians spend it the way they want.

There are a few politicians who make some effort to be responsible and “manage” the Behemoth of the State. Senators Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe, both of Oklahoma interestingly, have insisted on having offsets for any disaster relief spending. And they come under severe criticism for it because that’s just not the way it’s done in Washington. At least they are trying to stem the tsunami-sized tide of federal spending.

There’s a better way. Let us, the people, take care of ourselves. Yes, really. Think the unthinkable. What if we kept all those billions of dollars the State takes from us and we used them to help ourselves without the federal government’s help?

That’s impossible, you say. Well, for sure it wouldn’t be easy. But I don’t think it’s impossible. It’s the very size of government and its hydra-like heads eating up all our resources and reaching into every single aspect of our lives that makes it seem unimaginable that we could really take care of ourselves.

The reason we can’t envision doing such a thing is because we only focus on what we see and not on what we don’t see. All we see is the damage from the disasters and what the State does to try and fix it. We don’t see the unlimited potential of what could be done with all that money in a free and private economy. We also don’t see how people would make different choices like not building palatial estates in flood zone or hurricane-prone areas.

With the way things are now we’re limited in what we can do. The government gets our money first. We can only work with what’s left over. When the government takes our money it doles it out and takes a piece of the action in the bargain lowering the value of the funds. When the money is left in the private economy it is used to start businesses, do research and development, structure insurance products, innovate, create, and produce. In short, wealth multiplies. And in the end we’d have much more to relieve the suffering of the victims of natural disasters.

I believe in this country. I love it with all my heart. I believe in the goodness, generosity, and sacrifice of the American people. If only we could get the State out of our lives and out of our pockets so we could see for ourselves how great we really are – and how well we could take care of ourselves. Today Starbucks is making a stab at it as so many other voluntary relief efforts are doing.

So dig a little deeper past the hole in your pocket put there by your taxes. Go to Starbucks and get a free cup of coffee by giving as much as you can to help our fellow Americans suffering in Moore, Oklahoma (they’re taking donations until June 4 but the free drink is only good today). And when you do, dream of an America where we don’t need the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington to take care of us because we can do just fine without them.

What can you envision if the State left us alone to take care of ourselves?

  • Robert Benjamin Hines

    Its amazing how far we have come from the way it used to be. Looking to government seems to be second nature.

    • You’re right, Rob. And then the lie of the media now is that the government has always taken care of everything for us and it’s only conservatives and libertarians that think things weren’t always this way. The State is has become the god of this age.

  • Tyro

    that’s how we used to do it.

    I think a 6000 year track record of failure of private charity to provide disaster, poverty, and public health relief on a large scale sort of belies this claim.

    The old way was for a major disaster to destroy a community, and then the community was dispersed, usually as paupers, throughout the rest of the land. That is how we used to do it. If that’s ok with you, then that’s fine, but we voted to organize ourselves along different lines.

    Starbucks could donate every last dollar of their profits from 2012 to Oklahoma tornado relief, it and wouldn’t cover half the bill. And there would still be tens of billions more in disasters that would be left unaccounted for.

    If private charity worked, then government relief would not have come into existence, because there would be no problem for government to solve.

    What is, I think, very offensive to many conservatives is that government-sponsored disaster relief works, which kind of undermines their entire philosophy, and this is why it must be opposed. But the voting public tends to believe that disaster relief is essentially the only thing that matters when it comes to what their representatives should be able to deliver.

    I realize that this post is quite a few months old, but the very premise of it is quite offensive. While you’re complaining that Christians in America aren’t concerned enough about Christians in Syria (and they’re not), you also seem to be upset that Christians in America *are* successfully petitioning their government to provide multi-billion-dollar relief to their fellow citizens, which you also object to.

Previous post:

Next post: