Economist Stuart Greenfield opined in the subscription-based Quorum Report this week that while Texans are incredibly more generous individuals than others in the country (that part is right), our public policies keep the “state” from being as generous as the people (absolutely silliness). (Read his piece here; you may have to be a subscriber.) The state cannot, by definition, be generous or charitable; it can spend money, but it cannot be charitable. It is an anthropomorphism to suggest otherwise, for only people can be charitable.

It is the height of arrogance to compel, through spending and tax policy, “generosity” of the taxpayer — which is precisely the logical conclusion of Mr. Greenfield. “The state needs to appear to be warm and fuzzy, so we will take your money and spend it in ways we think are helpful.” Never mind those ways are never very helpful.

More importantly, the very generosity Texans are able to show individually is a direct result of the state not taking away so much money. The more money Greenfield urges be removed from taxpayers, the less they have to give, and therefore the charitable they can be.

Taken to its logical conclusion, Mr. Greenfield’s argument would have every dollar generated in or near the state confiscated, going to pay for state hand-outs. That might in the narrow world of liberal politics make us appear charitable. But in the real world, it would turn Texas into a third-world country where the politically connected thrive, but everyone else lives as a serf.