Being against government help for the poor is not the same as being against any help for the poor. It is apparent that people misunderstand this since most political arguments about welfare don’t take long before moving into the “you don’t care about poor people” realm. This is tough for libertarians and conservatives, because it is usually precisely because we care about poor people that we are against government welfare as it currently stands, because it has done nothing to eradicate poverty.
Yet liberals often take the “moral high ground” and act like saints, because they are for government welfare. But the reality is that agreeing with the government welfare system, contributing your tax dollar, and complaining about how others don’t give enough tax dollars does not solve poverty. Private charity is not acceptable to most liberals because everyone is not forced to contribute. Of course once you’re forced to contribute, it ceases being charity.
Would I be a more moral person if I decided it was right to throw money at an issue, even though all the money we have thrown at it up to this point has not reduced poverty? Would I be more moral to vote for tax increases and welfare increases, in the name of the poor without ever checking the results? Is it moral to blindly trust that the government will take over and adequately perform what many consider a personal duty to your neighbors and family? Is it moral to forgo donating to a food pantry, because you already pay for the WIC program? Is it moral to give a trillion dollars a year ($60,000 per household in poverty) to the poor in the name of eradicating poverty, only to see poverty rise or stay the same? Is it moral that the trillion dollars each year is borrowed from future generations by adding to the national debt?
This is why it is not simply, yes help the poor, or no do not help the poor. When did the government become responsible for every facet of society? When did we let people off the hook for taking care of their aging parents, after being raised by them? People seem to have this fear that if the government does not perform some made up responsibility, then nobody will. In fact people stopped performing their duties, precisely when the government supposedly took over those duties. The problem is that the government failed to perform the responsibilities which used to be up to individuals. Now its individuals blaming the government and asking, why isn’t my kid educated in public schools? Why are my parent’s living in poverty with Social Security? Who’s going to watch my kid after his father leaves and I need to work?
To give your tax dollars to the government and say, “my job is done” is not moral. By doing this, your are not helping anyone rise out of poverty, and you are not contributing to the betterment of society. It is not enough to hand your responsibilities over to the government, and just assume it all went according to plan. Educate your kids, because the public schools are not doing it. Take care of your parents in their old age, they took care of you in your young age, and the government will not provide for their retirement. Get involved in programs that help the poor, because the number of single parent households in poverty has risen steadily since welfare was massively expanded in the 60′s. Yet all these things are “being handled by the government”, creating the false sense that someone is looking out for us and others.
And now we are ready to shirk our responsibilities to live healthy lives, and raise healthy children, because healthcare is now a government responsibility. If people bothered to look into the success or failure of other government programs, they may understand why so many people are vehemently against the government “providing us with healthcare”. They have been providing people with welfare, and providing people with educations, and providing people with retirement and what we are left with is more poor single parents without futures, failing education, and poverty stricken retirees.
Maybe if the government was not taking our money, and pretending to to solve a problem, more people would be willing and able to accept their actual societal responsibilities. I don’t want people to be able to take the easy way out, pay their taxes, and then blame all their problems on the government. How can people still believe, “if only we gave them more money to work with, the problem would go away “? No, the government cannot solve many of our problems, and only by accepting responsibility for ourselves and our loved ones can we truly address the issue of how to eradicate poverty. And the right place to start would be mulling over the old adage, “Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime”.
*Flashback Friday: This article was originally posted March 2013.