Friday, September 17, 2010

Addressing Poverty in America

Today, the news includes a story which claims that 1 in 7 Americans live in poverty. Another article reports, "the number of people living in poverty rose by 3 million in 2009 to 44 million, the highest level in the half-century that the government has kept track."

Isn't it interesting that, after dumping trillions of taxpayer dollars on the poor, they remain poor? Why can't the do-gooders see that imitation charity doesn't work?

Having traveled to 124 countries over the past 40 years, I can say with complete confidence that we Americans do not really know what poverty is other than some arbitrary number established by bureaucrats and politicians. Very few in the US live in the profound poverty seen in much of Asia and Africa.

The few Americans that truly are poor are in two general categories:
1 – Those with a mental defect that renders them unable to make competent decisions about their own welfare and
2 – Those who should know better, but make poor decisions about their welfare.

We, as a society, have a moral obligation to help those in category 1 by providing adequate facilities to care for them -- through charity, not government -- and, as appropriate, prepare them to rejoin society.

We also have a moral obligation to stop bailing out those in category 2! Most Americans who are below that arbitrary poverty line are there because they make bad decisions and our feel-good social programs insulates them from the natural consequences of those bad decisions.

Most American homes in category 2 has, at a minimum, a car, a television, and the latest in cell phones. These families have shelter, furniture, appliances, food and health care -- all paid by expecting government agents to extract money, by threat of force, from productive citizens. They have all the street drugs they want at prices they can afford. They adorn their bodies with tattoos, gold, and designer jeans. They elected the President of the United States and a substantial portion of Congress and thereby control much of the political agenda of this nation as well as who gets nominated to the federal courts. Yet, they want more from those of us who earn our way through life.

We must stop expecting and allowing government to usurp our individual obligation to be charitable.

We must stop paying people who don’t work.

We must stop giving “earned” income tax credits to, or otherwise subsidize, those who are underemployed.

We must restore traditional marriage and old-fashioned famiies as the foundation of society. Marriage is America's greatest weapon against child poverty.

We must abandon policies and attitudes that discourage mothers from staying home to raise their own children.

We must stop paying single girls and women to have babies.

We must end government policies, legislation, and regulations that financially punish families with unemployed and underemployed fathers who stay with their families.

We must restore the First Amendment by ending the ban on religion, and the moral compass it provides, from the public square.
Welfare is another of our major problems. We are a humane and generous people and we accept without reservation our obligation to help the aged, disabled, and those unfortunates who, through no fault of their own, must depend on their fellow man. But we are not going to perpetuate poverty by substituting a permanent dole for a paycheck. There is no humanity or charity in destroying self-reliance, dignity, and self-respect...the very substance of moral fiber. — Ronald Reagan

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves. — Reverend William JH Boetcke (1873-1962) German-born Presbyterian clergyman, 1916 (often erroneously attributed to Abraham Lincoln)

Your money does not cause my poverty. Refusal to believe this is at the bottom of most bad economic thinking. — P. J. O'Rourke

You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. — Dr. Adrian Pierce Rogers (1931-2005)

You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money. — P.J. O'Rourke

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer. — Benjamin Franklin (On the Price of Corn, and Management of the Poor, London Chronicle, Nov 1766)

Free enterprise has done more to reduce poverty than all the government programs dreamed up by Democrats. — Ronald Reagan

The liberal view is America in a permanent state of decline. They want everybody to believe that everybody else in this country is barely hanging on, and that the only solution is more and more of what has created the poverty circumstances. Because it is liberalism that creates poverty, promotes poverty, extends poverty, and spreads it -- and they want eight more years of power to keep doing it. — Rush Limbaugh, 6 Jun 2008

In order to avoid poverty, just do three things: finish high school, marry before having a child, and don't have a child until you're at least twenty years old. Only 8 percent of people who do all three of those things wind up poor, but a staggering 79 percent of those who fail to do them wind up in poverty. — Bernard Goldberg, Arrogance, p 12

In our attempt to blame poverty on prejudice, we have taught the poor to be prejudiced against the basic values necessary to sustain a free and civil society....We've taught them there are no real absolutes to the human condition -- except perhaps that the highest value in life is to acquire things. — Star Parker
Related reading:

Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help (and the Rest of Us)
Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help (and the Rest of Us)

Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State
Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State

Uncle Sam's Plantation: How the Welfare Bureaucracy Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can Do About It
Uncle Sam's Plantation: How the Welfare Bureaucracy Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can Do About It

Trickle Up Poverty: Stopping Obama's Attack on Our Borders, Economy, and Security
Trickle Up Poverty: Stopping Obama's Attack on Our Borders, Economy, and Security

Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism
Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism

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