Whales & Compassion

Whales and Compassion

by Bart Frazier


On Monday [July 29, 2002] a pod of 54 pilot whales beached themselves on a beach in Cape Cod, Mass. The beaching of whales and dolphins is a regular occurrence on Cape Cod, particularly large numbers of pilot whales because their gregarious nature leads to mass strandings.

Because of these regular strandings, a group of volunteers, the Cape Cod Stranding Network, monitor the beaches and converge on beached whales when they are found. In this instance, 100 volunteers cared for the whales–covering their bodies with wet towels to prevent sunburn, euthanizing those animals who were beyond saving, and eventually pushing the 3 ton animals back out to sea. At first, the laudable efforts of these volunteers were able to save the lives of 46 out of the 54 whales. And although the saved whales perished when they rebeached themselves the next day, these volunteers should be commended for their efforts.

This episode of voluntary charity begs the question, “Why doesn’t the government save beached whales?” After all, the government has claimed responsibility for the poor and the old, so why should it stop there? The argument goes that if Social Security and welfare were not available, the unfortunates of society would be dying in the streets.

Herein lies the irony. After a pod of whales, which arguably are less important than human beings, was stranded, a whole army of volunteers mobilized to save their lives. How can one not see that if humans were in need of the same care, the same response, if not more intense, would alleviate the problem?

Instead of relying on voluntary charity and good will towards men, the federal government continues its welfare-state policy of using the IRS to forcibly take money from everyone in order to distribute the money to some, all in the name of morality and righteousness. But where is the morality in coercion, as compared to voluntary choices? Moreover, these coercive transfer programs have created a class of people who have been deprived of their sense of self-reliance and freedom of choice, and they have also seriously damaged the community of charity that at one time provided for all before socialistic welfare-state programs changed the nature of the federal government. It is time to repeal these programs and return to a society where charity is obtained from the heartfelt voluntary actions of individuals, not the hollow morality of government transfer programs.