Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Poverty, Politics, the Pope, and Scripture

Yeah, I know. "Scripture" didn't fit with my "P" alliteration. Oh, well. You get the drift.

I want you to have a peek at this Forbes article and hone in on the debate over Pope Francis' true views on capitalism vs. socialism, and what constitutes "charity."

Charity that is coerced by government through law or confiscatory taxation is not charity. Charity is a matter that comes from the heart, and should. Biblically, "God loves a cheerful giver," and note it says "GIVER." If your money is being taken from you by force and redistributed to those without your consent, and to those who might not handle that money responsibly, there is no "gift" about it.

At one time, churches, rescue missions and other charities handled this and did just fine without the government poking its nose into things. The government officials pushing the "War on Poverty" type programs were able to play their violins and guilt-trip the population into having tax money appropriated for these purposes, but the studies have been clear (at least to me) that turning poverty into a government entitlement has only exacerbated a serious problem, not made it better. God WANTS His people to learn and show compassion, and expects them to do so as He provides. He said that "the poor will always be with us." Scripture also directs us to exercise discernment as to how we render assistance. Those who are truly needy through no fault of their own need help, but the help is to be temporary until they can manage to work their way into self-sufficiency. The lazy, indolent types who aren't willing to work or make the effort to improve themselves are not to be on the receiving end of such help. But with a one size fits all government approach, it's hard to be discriminating on who gets what, and the corruption is endemic.

But we have a problem, and it's a serious one. Once a government entitlement is created, it's near impossible barring divine miracle to end it. And you will always have politicians who benefit through the votes of the poor using every guilt-tripping, political trick in the book to sustain the programs that keep them in office. And those who work for the agencies who dole out the assistance have a vested interest in keeping the government funds running. People ACTUALLY GETTING OUT of poverty and being self-sufficient is the last thing they want. I think sometimes they purposely make it more difficult for those on welfare to get out of it, because they get benefits cut if they manage to land a job—and they can't survive on the minimal income that comes from some of those jobs. They make more money on welfare than they do working. Is that by design? I hope not, but after a lifetime of covering and observing politics, it's hard not to be very, very cynical.

My even writing a post like this will get me called heartless and mean-spirited. I may have studies and statistics thrown at me trying to tell me that my views are completely bogus. And of course, those who think as I do have studies and statistics of our own that we could throw right back. The argument goes on, everyone talks, and no one listens. And people like me get very, very weary if not downright irritable. We live in a fallen world, where even the best of intentions can get out of control if they're not ridden with a curb bit and spurs.

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