Saving the Needy or Creating the Needy?
When a graph like the following develops, one has mixed emotions:
On the one hand, there is the obvious sorrow and empathy for the
less fortunate. This economic downturn is serious and probably has a
lot further to run both in terms of unemployment and in terms of those
requiring help. It is not improbable that the economy will be in a rut
for a long time, perhaps a decade or so. Thus, continued need for
assistance to the needy is highly likely.
On the other hand, one knows how devastating the longer-term impacts of welfare and assistance can be.
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
a sub-set of the economy, the welfare system has become a lifestyle
choice. The siren song of assistance, once accepted, easily corrupts
subsequent generations. How many lives have been negatively affected,
if not ruined, by the perverse incentives? How many people now accept
it as a way of life? How many talented children failed to bloom into
scientists, businessmen, doctors and geniuses because of its corrosive
Real needs will grow more severe as this economy continues to
deteriorate, and a compassionate people will and should meet them. But
it is a fine line between helping the needy and creating the needy.
Newspapers recently reported that there is no longer a stigma
attached to food stamps, as if that were a good thing. If true, the
loss of stigma is terrible, because it makes it easier to rationalize
away the traditional habits and values that produce success. If true,
our welfare system will continue to destroy the potential and lives of
Ben Franklin advocated a form of “tough love.” To many, that
approach is unthinkable and cruel. Ultimately, which approach is more