The Corner

How Civil Society Dies

That story John Miller posted about this morning is even more depressing than John let’s on. Because busy-body bureaucrats need to justify their existence they are preventing churches and other charities from accepting home-cooked food provided by normal people who don’t have officially sanctioned kitchens. This is precisely the sort of stupidity that kills civil society by preventing the Burkean little platoons from doing jobs the state thinks it’s uniquely qualified to do. Never mind that this will result in less food for the homless, who will no doubt increase their consumption of garbage:

“We’re very aware that a number of homeless people eat out of dumpsters, and mom’s pot roast has got to be healthier than that,” said Jim Brigl, chief executive of Fairfax Area Christian Emergency & Transitional Services. “But that doesn’t meet the code.”

Volunteering usually begets more volunteering, more concern for community and the like. But the state is trying to destroy the sort of day-to-day organic contact average, decent people have with local churches and charities:

“It takes the personal element out,” said Pam Michell, executive director of New Hope Housing, which runs three year-round shelters and two wintertime programs.

“There’s something about being able to bring a batch of brownies or being able to bring a home-cooked casserole to a shelter and feel like you’re doing your part to end homelessness,” she said. “That warm, fuzzy touch is going to go away.”

Instead, you can be sure that this will reduce the number of people taking an active interest in the homeless. Score another one for the professionalization of reform.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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