In a piece on the Wall Street Journal's editorial page today, Jonathan Gurwitz, a columnist at the San Antonio Express-News, details the effort to set up Fisher Houses, which serve as homes away from home for the families of wounded military service members. The houses, he reports, are the result of an "innovative partnership between government and private philanthropy." The philanthropy is courtesy of New York developer Zachary Fisher. Private funds are raised to build the houses. The military provides land for construction, and takes over operations and maintenance after they're built.
That's a highly laudable endeavor, but for me the piece was slightly marred by a quote from Arnold Fisher, Zachary Fisher's nephew, who is heavily involved in the project. "We don't want government money," he says. "This is Americans doing for Americans."
But land and operations and maintenance aren't free, are they? The Fisher Houses seem like a highly laudable project--and one that it appears couldn't be pulled off without Uncle Sam's help. That's great. And since the government money that is dedicated to this effort presumably comes from our tax dollars, it constitutes "Americans doing for Americans," too.