Posts Tagged ‘Welfare’

The Other Side of Class Warfare: Taking Society Down

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Society's Lowest Common Denominator

One of the most divisive and intractable problems we face in the U.S. is the growing poverty in our society.  More people are connected to the governmental umbilical cord than ever in history, and there are complaints emanating from all the usual sources that the wealthy segment of our society doesn’t pay enough for the privilege of their wealth.  I look at this from a completely different perspective, based in reality, and not in some grand socialistic dream about the good in humanity.  I know that humans are fallible and imperfect, and easily fall into a destitution of spirit even more readily than they do into a poverty of material things.  Encouraged to do so, many people are more than willing to live from the efforts of others and to subsist without reference to their own sloth.

I realize that what I am going to tell you will cause many to hurl derision in my direction, but it’s time that we tell the truth about who the real free-riders in our society have been.  Our country cannot thrive so long as the free-riders of whom we ask exactly nothing can collect by virtue of their unwillingness to contribute anything.  Our “welfare” system is becoming the largest segment of a rapidly growing government that rests not on a poverty of material things it provides, but on the grotesque destitution of spirit of those among those who these programs were intended to assist.

First, I’d like to address the question of entitlement programs, and differentiate among them on the following basis: Social Security, a program I think has thoroughly impossible problems, has been promised on the basis of individual contributions over a lifetime of work.  While it is clear that some substantial reform is necessary, and many  have been misled about the nature of the program, it is not the program I wish to discuss.  Instead, I’d prefer to focus on the massive programs for which there is no connection between benefits paid and the manner in which they are funded.  This includes the myriad programs that fall into the category widely regarded as “welfare,” and includes everything from public housing to Medicaid, among the more well-known, but includes also Pell Grants and Home Energy Assistance, and extends now even to Internet Service and Cellular Phones.

Over the last number of days, I’ve been verbally hammered via email and on the phone by those who have become disheartened at the things they now witness in their daily lives.  It’s not merely that these programs exist, or that they now provide every imaginable need, but that the recipients no longer appreciate them as a gift of a generous society.  Instead, they now view these benefits as a primary means of existence, and a right to which they are entitled to exercise.  Imagine subsisting in the belief that society owes you a living, based on no more exhaustive claim but for your existence.  It is to say “I’m here, so pay for me.”  If this seems stunning to some Americans who are less familiar with this sub-culture of economic dependency and moral depravity, it shouldn’t.  We have allowed our politicians to create a system in which they are rewarded with votes by providing material goods to people who produce nothing, owe nothing, and more, are being conditioned to believe that they possess an endless right to the wealth of those who produce the wealth of the nation.

Ladies and gentlemen, there can be no doubt that by permitting government to become the great dispenser of benefits, we have built a monster that has taken on a life and a force from which we may not escape.  We have such stellar intellectuals as Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, and a former Obama White House flunky, who tells us a few things that ought to disqualify her from any office anywhere on the planet:

“I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.’  No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.”

Do you understand her claim?  She is saying that society enables people to become rich.  This is a lie.  If society enables people to become rich, why aren’t we all rich?  Why? What’s the difference between one person’s wealth and another person’s poverty?  She doesn’t explain that, but she does continue to make absurd statements that reveal her poverty of understanding  of both economics and human nature:

“You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.”

This bizarre and reckless politician is telling you that the roads came first.  She is plainly asserting that roadways came before commerce.  They did not.  Commerce was the reason the roads were built, and the people who were engaged in that commerce are the ones who built the roads.  If there was nothing to protect, we would not need police.  This asinine would-be Senator actually believes that “the rest of us paid for” all of these things.  She is lying.  Find for me the total number of dollars paid for any roadway by those who do nothing but take from this system?

“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

This is pure sophistry.  There is no instance in which her narrative is true.  We cannot  afford any more of this notion.  The people who have paid for those products are most frequently the people who had a hand in producing them.  This is a serious problem.  She is an advocate for free-riders who actually insists on bolstering the notion that free-riders are the great virtue in our system who somehow provide the ability of the rich to become richer, while nevertheless providing exactly and precisely nothing.

This must stop.  We must begin to strip such power from politicians. We must challenge this nonsense at ever turn.  We must begin to say “No” and mean it, not merely to these politicians, but also to the people who have become dependent upon them.  It simply ludicrous to suggest that the infrastructure depends on the payments of people who don’t pay, while people who do pay are compelled at gunpoint to build and provide  it.

We have a real problem, and this insufferable leftist demonstrates it quite well: The poverty we face is in intellect, philosophy, and spirit, and we can no longer afford the luxury of all of these programs.  We must end the welfare state before it ends us.  With each day it continues, it increases its own numbers as more people give up the will to earn their existence as they find themselves increasingly surrounded by those who will not.


The Deadliest Sin

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Let's Talk About Five of Them

I was asked today by one gracious writer what I thought was the worst problem we face as a country, and I hesitated, but then answered unreservedly.  Of all the things that confront us, none are more corrosive, intractable, or widespread than that which I consider the deadliest of all sins: Greed.  You might wonder if I hadn’t slipped a gear and shifted into liberal-loony-land with rants about erroneously defined greed, but if you’ll permit me, I’ll be glad to explain.  No other human failing leads to more suffering.  It has been true through all of the history of mankind, and it is to be found in Western civilizations greatest texts, but one of the worst problems about greed is that nobody seems to agree what it is.  It’s my intention here to offer you my own definition, so that you may measure it against your own, and draw your own conclusions.

I hold that greed is the desire for the unearned in material, prestige, reality, or spirit.  In truth, you could simply say “the unearned” and let it go at that, but for the fact that many will neglect the other aspects and focus solely on material matters.  Let’s consider one of Western civilization’s great texts, and examine the Ten Commandments: Four are with regard to man’s relationship with the Almighty, but six are with respect to man’s relations with other men.  Of these six, five could be reduced to a single concept using the definition of greed I’ve laid out.

  • You shall not murder.
  • You shall not commit adultery.
  • You shall not steal.
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
  • You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

I realize you might wonder how greed is related to murder.  One who commits that act does so for some purpose, but what is it that makes it an expression of greed?  Sometimes, that motive is robbery.  That’s plain enough.  Sometimes the motive is to silence the victim.  This is a  desire for an unearned reality.  Sometimes, a murder is committed for sport.  This is to steal a life for one’s own pleasure, and therefore clearly an act motivated by greed.

Like murder, adultery seems a little challenging on the surface, but under closer examination, it fits the same criteria. People who commit adultery do so generally not wishing to be discovered. This permits them to pursue the pleasure they seek, while maintaining the appearance and respectability of a faithfully married person.  The person who wants this obviously wants what has not been earned, or once earned, discarded and forfeited by their own choices.

Stealing is clear enough.  It doesn’t take rocket science to see the application of greed as a motive in theft.

Bearing false witness is just another way of saying “lie.” To lie to another is an attempt to fake reality. It has widespread applications, but the desire for a false reality is clear evidence of greed.

As with stealing, covetousness is also clearly a matter of greed.

Having established these as instances of behavior driven in some way by greed, let us now consider together the motive of a person who wishes to live without effort and at the expense of others.  Is it not greed?  What of the politician who seeks the prestige of an office and the votes it takes to arrive and remain there without providing the actual service for which he or she was elected?  Is this not greed?  What of the rich man who defrauds his many customers, lying about his products and services to gain more than he would had he been honest?  Is this not greed?

Let us now consider what is not greed.  Is it greed for a person to wish to keep what one has earned by his or her efforts?  Is it greed to wish to be able to employ one’s talents in pursuit of profit?  Is it greed to charge a customer what they are willing to pay for precisely that which they expect?

Do situational ethics come into play?  For instance, we all agree that theft is wrong, and clear evidence of greed, but is it still greed if one were to steal a loaf of bread to feed one’s starving family?  Here is where some controversy will generally arise, because there are those who will say proudly that they will do anything to provide for their families, to include begging, borrowing, or stealing.  Conveniently omitted from that list of “anything” is murder, but you can bet that for some, its omission is a matter of pleasantry but not fact.  My response is that theft is theft, and while you can wrap it up in the pretty bows of necessity all you like, if you resort to theft, you are a thief, and by definition, greed is your motive.  You are seeking the unearned.

You might well wonder how I came to this topic, among all the things people have emailed to me today, and I suppose I owe an explanation.  Simply put, I was asked by a friend about a teen-aged child’s desire for a cellphone.  Apart from all the other reasons I tend to oppose the widespread issuance of cellphones to children, one that has stuck with me these last few weeks was the story from early 2010 about cellphones as a new welfare benefit available to the poor.  Those under the mistaken impression that the poor are somehow incapable of greed really ought to get back in touch with reality.  Much as my friend might like to get his teen a cellphone, he can’t afford one, and economics has ultimately answered the question.  Apparently, however, this need not be an obstacle, unless you happen to work for a living.

What sort of culture have we become when a man who works 60 hour weeks cannot afford a cellphone for his kid, but we now see the government issuing cellphones to others, gratis?  My friend is now in the position of paying for somebody else’s cellphone, but he can’t afford one for everybody in his own family who he thinks may need one.  Ladies and gentlemen, you may wonder why I would wish to talk about greed, and being Sunday morning, this may be one sermon more than many of you are willing to endure, but I must ask you again:  When did the unlimited wishes of the poor become a command to which we must all now answer?

This isn’t merely an entitlement mentality, but a sheer, unrestrained form of greed.  Our government and its bureaucrats now coerce or extort companies to provide free Internet service.  What else, that you or I pay for, is to be issued to others “for free?”

You and I know there are no free phones, no free Internet, and no free lunch, yet we are permitting more and more people to become accustomed to free everything.  Is a cellphone now an indispensable part of the “safety net?” Is Internet service too? We know by now that education, food, shelter, health-care, utilities, and even transportation are part of this widening net.  Where does it end?  Free video games?  Lottery tickets?  Travel allowances?  Vacations?  Golf clubs?  Green fees?  Pet food?  Pet-care?

As I said, the list is endless, and all I want to know is this:  How much of what I have earned will I be forced to do without so that others may have every wish fulfilled and every “need” met?  I think it’s long overdue that we began a national discussion.  I don’t know anybody who would not offer help to those in desperate need, but most I know are tired, exhausted and weary from providing the unlimited wants of those who never seem to manage to earn anything, except lately, a growing contempt.