charity on the other hand is voluntary, and Jesus encouraged that.
I disagree. Many religious sects seem to have it for granted that you have to act as a "good person" in order to get to Heaven - the alternative, I would imagine, being eternal hellfire. Hardly a voluntary choice.
Similar to how Puritanism requires hard work to get into heaven, so does the act of charities and acting Godly. It's not for immediate earthly benefit, but the result is the same -
"involuntary" redistribution of goods to those less needy to equal out the playing field.
If there isn't a payoff at the end, no one's going to do it.
Now purely equal Socialism is a bit silly, which is what I think a lot of people are thinking of - communism-style "equality", which Churchill called "the equal sharing of misery". No matter how hard you worked, you got paid the same. There isn't a payoff at the end, so no one will do the work.
While I think that you need some sort of carrot and stick to drive forward innovation and economic activity, there should be some significant safety nets that prevents people from starving or dying off in spectacularly horrible ways.
There's no reason, for instance, why anyone in the US should be dying of hunger or lack of shelter. And yet, it's quite the problem. Why?
Why should the weakest members of society still be forced to scrape by on bread crumbs and tents? Surely they don't deserve outrageous opulence, but I would imagine in the 21st century the threats of hunger and homelessness should have been solved by now.
In a perfect world, the "basic needs" of the people would be taken care of - military protection, health protection, food, shelter. After that, it's every man for himself - competing for money (to buy more stuff), fame, glory, whatever.
Nobody should be worried about how to feed themselves in 2008, is all I'm saying.