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Doing Good For The Poor!

February 22, 2014

I’ve struggled to find a kind answer to my friends who seem to be for the current welfare state, or entitlement society, I think we find ourselves in today. For the record, I currently work a normal job with an hourly wage. I do have experience running businesses in the past so I feel I can connect to both sides somewhat. I sincerely think many of the policies government has set up to help people are often rooted in good intentions. That being said, I really wish the federal government would just stop it. You’ve just forced employers/employees to purchase health insurance. This means companies profit less and employees probably earn less. Somehow with all of this, insurance rates for most have gone up!

Every time a company has something happen that cuts into their profit margin there are inevitable results. Employees lose hours, or perhaps even jobs. Raises are definitely put on hold. Hiring freezes are put into effect. Prices of their product(s) go up. Now we’re hearing that we should raise the minimum wage standard. This comes at a time when our national workforce is the smallest it has been in 35 years. Look, I’d like if everyone made more money, but where does this money come from? It only comes from companies that work on the plus side and can afford to hire people.

I agree it is unrealistic to expect people to live comfortably making $15,000/yr. Do we not already have programs that help these people? Food stamps, welfare, etc. When anyone argues people don’t have to stay in low paying jobs they are scoffed at as heartless. Perhaps a lesson from my favorite founding father, Benjamin Franklin, is in need.

A little history on Ben. He was one of 10 kids. His dad could only afford to pay for 2 years of formal education for him. He left home (Boston) at the age of 15 and went to work for his brother as an apprentice in Philadelphia. At 17, he left Philly and crossed the pond to London, on his own. He didn’t come from money. He wasn’t given grants or handouts from the government. By age 42 he retired and devoted himself to public service. By 43 he opened the Academy of Philadelphia, now known as University of Pennsylvania. By 50 he opened the first hospital in the colonies “for the reception and care of poor, sick persons, whether the inhabitants of the province or strangers – a very beneficient design.” (Dr. Thomas Bond) He was also the president of the Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and Relief of Negroes Unlawfully Held In Bondage. You probably know a lot about his exploits in founding this country, so I won’t rehash all of that, or all his inventions that helped society as a whole.

I’ve often heard part of this quote as an argument used as to why we shouldn’t help the poor. I find that completely missing the point. Franklin was all about helping the poor! That being said, I don’t think he found government to be the answer. Here is that quote:  “I am doing good for the poor, but… 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. I observed… 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.” Have you ever heard any politician say their goal was to help the poor become richer? We have elections every two years, and I don’t hear that in any campaign speeches.

I have a belief that reward encourages behavior. It’s what we teach our kids, even our pets. Yet somehow, once we’re adults that belief disappears for many. I don’t get it. I’m in no way saying we shouldn’t help the poor. On the contrary, we must. I just don’t see the federal government as the first answer. We have Samaritan’s Purse, Goodwill, Salvation Army. We have the church which should be invested in each community and doing what they can to help people. We have corporations, who get bashed by politicians, that love to help those in need, and will often match contributions of others in that endeavor. There are organizations such as Food for the Poor that do a lot in the Caribbean and Latin America. The Gates Foundation is working hard at making sure people worldwide have access to technology and being able to transfer money digitally. My church works with several local organizations in the Charlotte area. Matthews Free Medical Clinic, Charlotte Rescue Mission, Urban Ministry and A Child’s Place being just a few of them. They have opportunities for volunteers to help out and we the people can then have a direct hand in helping the poor.

I know I’ll have many who disagree with me. I don’t mean to pick a fight. I just don’t see the government ever making anyone richer other than the politicians and their cronies. Their help for the poor may be noble, in some cases. I don’t want to keep people from their welfare checks and/or food stamps. I just think we, believers especially, need to be the ones out there trying to help those in need.

A couple more Franklin quotes for you. “Poverty and mistakes are setbacks, but you should never allow them to make you give up on your dreams.” “Liberality is not in giving much, but in giving wisely.” This was from the man that proposed the first property tax to help participation in the volunteer fire company. He also proposed tax relief for charitable activity. He was an amazing man, indeed. I don’t pretend to know the right equation as to how much we should help as opposed to the government. I just don’t see raising the price on doing business ultimately helping create wealth for anyone who is poor.

I do know most of us can do a lot more to help others than we do. Let’s show them the love of Jesus through our actions first and foremost! I apologize for the rare political rant. I have had this discussion with some lately and felt this format was a much more peaceful setting. LOL  I don’t argue like I used to, as I feel listening is more important. That being said, after listening to too much, it was time to vent. Have a great weekend my friends!


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