Ted Rall makes an even nastier version of the argument I critiqued here: Because charities cant foot the bill for Katrina recovery, and because some allegedly use charitable giving as a substitute for, and argument against, government action, we should stop giving to charities. Its time, he says, to "starve the beast," by which he means "private charities used by the government to justify the abdication of its duties to its citizens."
I dont know of anyone in the Bush Administration who thinks that charitable giving can completely substitute for government spending in dealing either with disasters or ordinary neediness, so this is a straw man. Charitable supplements to or (limited)replacements for government action (in this and other, more routine cases) offer some of the following advantages: efficiency (leveraging voluntary gifts of time, money, and expertise, and responding flexibly and less bureaucratically); reaching hard-to-reach populations, especially where there is a special cultural, religious, or ethnic connection or the organization is already present "on the ground" or "in the neighborhood"; promoting self-reliance, responsibility, and life-transformation by engaging swith "clients" over the long term; and, finally, avoiding "Leviathan" government, where isolated individuals depend upon and are subject a monolithic government. Clearly Rall doesnt care about diversity, self-reliance, or independence, either in this case or in any other.
For more along these lines, go here.