It is unethical to use taxation to be generous, as happens when we are taxed to help others –- which means we are not actually being generous.
Why is it acceptable for a large group of people (like a government) to do something it would be illegal for an individual to do? I cannot force people to give me money so I can give it to other people whom I prefer to have the money, under threat of taking them by force and locking them up in my basement. But a government can do just that –- it just replaces the basement with prison.
How easy it is to be generous with other peoples’ money! And what is worse, when government is generous with your money, you do not feel obliged to help others –- why give when it is taken from you? So now people are acting less generous and charitable than they would otherwise (more heavily taxed Europe is less individually generous than are Americans). And money that could have been used to either lower prices of goods (making them cheaper for the poor to buy), hire more people (including the people “helped” by the government), or buy things that would have resulted in other businesses having to make more product, resulting in a need for more hiring, is taken away, filtered through people who are overpaid do an hour of work for eight hours at work, so that the poor get a very minuscule portion of the money anyway.
The latter problem could be solved with a simple negative income tax or basic income guarantee that neither rewards people for not working nor punishes people for getting even a minimum wage job replacing all forms of welfare. If we’re going to have welfare, it ought to be the least disruptive and least penalizing for doing well. The larger problem of being generous with other people’s money requires a change in overall philosophy in the country at large, and in Washington in particular. While that is more difficult, it can be done with a strong bully pulpit. Only when someone important publicly and consistently talks about moral government (one which doesn’t initiate force to get things done) will it get realized in the world.