Monday, March 20, 2006

Welfare: the case for elimination.

(note: this is being published in the Christian Homeschooling youth's gazette, and has stirred quite a controversy on my xanga.)

Welfare: the case for elimination.

One of the controversial issues of today is Welfare. This is constantly argued and debated on each side of the political spectrum and even within each party. Some people advocate eliminating it altogether, others think that it should be reduced, and yet others seem to think that it’s a good program and needs to stay.

Welfare programs were created during the great depression, to “help” the economy and poor Americans. As Reagan once said “the 10 most dangerous words in the English language are: hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help”. That is definitely true in this case.

The Welfare system and the way it works can be summed up in this phrase: redistribution of wealth. The Redistribution of wealth has been tried and failed in many nations, even our own.

In 1620 when the pilgrims came from England on the May-Flower, we used that concept and this is what Governor Bradford had to say about it “it was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment...for the young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice.” As we can see, the redistribution of wealth deters people from working.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 Says: While we were yet with you, we gave you this rule and charge: If anyone will not work, neither let him eat.

By providing for people no matter how much or little they work you are taking away any incentive they had to work. In the biblical illustration, the incentive to work would be food. In modern times it would still be food, but could also include going to the mall, or the movies, or parties, etc...

Margaret Thatcher once stated “"I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbor. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation."

That is so true of today’s “society”, people have the tendency to say “well, I’ll just apply for government aid” and give little or no thought as to whether or not it is the Government’s role to look after the poor.

The real question we have to face, before we can determine whether or not Welfare is wrong, should be: is this the role of government both Biblically and Constitutionally?

Let’s look first at the US Constitution. Article 1 section 8 is where all the powers of the federal government lie. It states:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof. (this was taken from: http://www.usconstitution.net )

NO where in that article did it say something about providing for the poor. Oh, but Kierstyn, it mentioned the “general welfare”.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary “Welfare” means: health, happiness, or prosperity; well-being. So in other words, that first clause means that congress, or the federal government, is supposed to look after the prosperity of the nation; no where did it mention that the impoverished is the responsibility of the government.

Also, one other place in the Constitution that we need to look at is our 10th Amendment. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.”

Since it was not provided for in Article 1 Section 8 of the US constitution, it overrides the 10th amendment; which means that the welfare system in place is Un-Constitutional.

More importantly however, we need to look at the biblical aspect of this issue.

Romans 13:3-4 says:

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.

No where in that verse does it say anything about the government helping the needy. If you read Acts 4:35 and 6:1-3, and James 1:27 you'll find no mention of THE GOVERNMENT in the provision of those in need. Rather, you will see the Church and Family stepping up and doing it. Even in the Old Testament, you never saw the government taking care of the poor people or prophets, the Family always rose to the occasion. That is how God ordained it to be.

Acts 4:35 and 6: 1-3 are just a few examples of when the church or family or community rose to the occasion. James 1:27 states: Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world. Therefore, it is OUR responsibility to take care of those in need.

The argument has been made in previous debates that I’ve had with this issue that “we as the church don’t do it now...why would we later?” The answer I have is simple, and can be applied anywhere. We don’t do it, because that responsibility has been taken away from us, un biblically and unconstitutionally by the federal government.

Let’s say that doing the dishes is your chore around the house, its your responsibility to make sure they get done and taken care of. You’ve done it ever since you can remember and are quite good and used to it. Then all of sudden your mom takes over. She has more money and sometimes gets it done faster, but as a result you become lazy and lose your incentive to take care of them.

That is how it’s been with welfare. The Family, Church, and Community used to be the ones to take care of the needy. Then the Federal government intervened and we have become lazy. That is why we haven’t been on top of helping the needy outside of natural disasters.

However, I have come to believe judging by precedent, that when given the responsibility once again, we will rise up to the challenge.

The American Society is an amazing thing. Whenever something bad happens, such as a natural disaster, the people have always risen to the challenge.

For example, with Hurricane Katrina much of the gulf coast was in ruins for quite some time. Yet, it wasn’t long after the storm before we started seeing people from all over the United States helping us with search and rescue, restoring power, and cleanup. Some States even offered housing and education scholarships to the Katrina refugees.

Much of this was done OUTSIDE of Federal intervention. When Hurricane Charley came in 2004, the Port Charlotte area was without power for a long time, however people from my community and surrounding areas went up to Charlotte County to help with cleanup efforts and handing out ice. Some people even put together gift baskets for the families with children still in shelters.

Not too long ago there was a snow storm in North Dakota, and at least one community lost power. As a result the community came together and aided one another. The State didn’t even declare a State of emergency because the people were taking care of it. All of this happened without FEMA ’s involvement.

We as Americans have always risen to meet the challenge, which is why I believe we should give the responsibility back to the American people to take care of the needy, and eliminate the welfare system completely.

Until the day that we are completely off of government aid, there are ways to take our responsibility back. Such as working at a soup kitchen, holding a fundraiser for a pregnancy resource center, visiting a nursing home and bringing in supplies to their office, even local missions are all ways we can take back our role!

I have an optimistic view of America and America’s future; I believe that it will be our generation that turns the tide for the better. I believe that my generation realize, or will realize that providing welfare is not the Government’s role Biblically or Constitutionally and that in order to effectively change for the better, we must give the responsibility back to the Church. The Church will rise to the challenge, it always has. We as the church cannot afford to become lazy, we need to take back our responsibility entirely in order to become stronger.

6 comments:

Stefan said...

An excellent article. Congratulations on its pending publication!

Bob D said...

KP,
An excellent article. How would our government get the current people who are capable of working off? I don't think it could be done "cold turkey".

MVB said...

Very good, Kierstyn! If welfare was eliminted though, I don't think the churches would step up enough. Some might not step up at all...

Mike said...

What exactly do you mean by "welfare?" Which programs would you eliminate? SSI? Medicare? Medicaid? Social Security? What about federal aid to local schools? What about Title 8? What about the interstate highway trust fund? What about government subsidies to energy companies?

I notice that you quoted the Bible. You must be aware of Proverbs 27:28 "He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse." And Luke 11:41 "But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you." Matthew 19:21 "Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." Matthew 5:42 "Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away."

Just wondering what you think of these things.

Mike said...

You said:"I believe welfare includes: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid,food stamps, government aid services, and public schools(I think that the Family/Church/State-to a much lesser extent than the previous- should be taking care of education, not the Feds) . I haven't heard of Title 8, what is that?.

In response to the verses, That is referring to the citizens, we as citizens, as Christians are supposed to take care of others, not the government. I actually just posted what I found to be the government's role and providing welfare is not liad out anywhere in the job of government. That is delegated to the people."

Mike: I studied Jesus' summation of the law, and still don't see where he says or implies "love thy neighbor" can only be done on an individual, personal level as you believe. On the contrary, in the Letters of Paul, Peter, James, and in Acts as well as the prophets, we see many calls for communal action.

In Matthew we find "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing," which could be seen as encouraging giving when you don't know the recipient,as when you donate blood.

Sorry, I meant to say "Section 8," which allows poor people to live in middle class housing by way of government subsidy. Most people would call that a form of welfare.

How do you feel about roads, air traffic control, police and judicial functions? What about minting money? What about enforcement of quality controls in food and medicine? These have all been done quite successfully by private enterprise, though they are conventionally all government enterprises.

What about the armed forces? They have also been provided by private means. What about tax subsidies for giant corporations? What about the USPS?

How about airport security screening?

As all these activities have been or are currently provided by private enterprise, but are now mostly taxpayer supported, would these be considered welfare? Would these activites fit with the vision of government you explained?

Kierstyn Paulino said...

Sorry, I meant to say "Section 8," which allows poor people to live in middle class housing by way of government subsidy. Most people would call that a form of welfare.
Yes, I would call that a form of welfare.

How do you feel about roads, air traffic control, police and judicial functions? What about minting money?
From the constitutional aspect of it, I would say that can be done by the federal government and not be considered welfare.

What about enforcement of quality controls in food and medicine? These have all been done quite successfully by private enterprise, though they are conventionally all government enterprises.
I honestly don't know why the Feds are getting involved in that, Private enterprise does it better, though I don't consider it a form of welfare at this point. ( I have to admit, I haven't heard that one before...something for me to look into. THANKS!)

What about the armed forces? They have also been provided by private means.
The Armed forces constitutionally are for the government to maintain, and Biblically, the government usually had control of it.

What about tax subsidies for giant corporations? What about the USPS?
Constitutionally, the government has control of the taxes (as much as we all hate that fact)

How about airport security screening?
I see that as more of a protect the homeland policy rather than welfare.
Thats just my opinion though.

As all these activities have been or are currently provided by private enterprise, but are now mostly taxpayer supported, would these be considered welfare?
No not all of them, because some of them are necessary to the government. I'm saying that welfare as far as government aid that is unconstitutional/unbiblical needs to be eliminated because it is the Church's responsibility.

Would these activites fit with the vision of government you explained?
I want to make sure we're on the same page, are you referring to my later post of this one?

if its my later post then the security measures/armed forces fit into the punish evildoers/judicial/set of laws catagory.

I didn't have time to read all of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy but it outlines what the government should be like and deals with most of the items mentioned.

"I studied Jesus' summation of the law, and still don't see where he says or implies "love thy neighbor" can only be done on an individual, personal level as you believe. On the contrary, in the Letters of Paul, Peter, James, and in Acts as well as the prophets, we see many calls for communal action.

In Matthew we find "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing," which could be seen as encouraging giving when you don't know the recipient,as when you donate blood."


I'm sorry, I wrote that response rather quickly, I meant it is the individual or Church's responsibility to do it. There is nothing wrong with a body of people doing something, however those verses are not referring to the government. In the context those passages are referreing to the people, not the government.

While it may be better to do it in secret, or not know where its going to, it is not the government's role to "redistribute the wealth" so to speak. That is the Church's and Individual/family's responsibility.

Thanks for the thought provoking comments!!

kp