Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Discussion on Charity

A friend of mine recently posted on his Facebook page:

I remember once upon a time, conservatives talked about a kinder, gentler society, lit by a thousand points of light. Can we no longer afford compassion? We're becoming a meaner, harder, sharper-edged society, and those thousand points of light are dimming because we're told that we can't afford the candles.

I responded:
The question is how best to show compassion. Government handouts have proven to make people more poor and more dependent. It is a false compassion to ask for more money to hand out. Our world has become softer, not harder. The people who claim to be helping the disadvantaged are more likely to be harming them. Nationalizing charity was a bad idea.

Just because someone thinks government handouts have grown too big does not mean that person lacks compassion. Demeaning those who disagree with you detracts from the debate.

He responded, also talking to another commenter:
I don't think that I was demeaning anyone in particular. We seem to be on a trend of blaming the poor for poverty, though. I don't think that that's very constructive either. Private assistance, like food banks, only goes so far, and when there's hard times there's a lot more going out than there is coming in.

Kat - you know as well as anyone, that there's lots of people out there who want to work hard, and can work hard, but just can't find work. Gov Snyder just signed the bill limiting lifetime welfare assistance to 48 months. What happens to the 12,000 families who get kicked off the rolls in October?

And I replied:
Actually, your post was an attack on conservatives. It would be impossible to read your post without concluding that you think conservatives are meaner, harder, sharper edged, and lacking compassion. Read it again and think about how much you would like it if you were conservative and had dedicated your life to helping others, as I am and have.

As to the 12,000 people who have been on welfare for 4 years, yes they have had plenty of time to find work, move to where more jobs are available, start businesses, get help from their family, or find other means of supporting themselves. While there will always be a very few who need that kind of long term aid, 12,000? I don't think so.

Your comment on soup kitchens and private assistance was also interesting. Before The Great Society our country was filled with charitable groups working in the community. Rotary clubs, Elks, Eagles, Shriners. They have been devastated by the nationalization of charity. To the detriment of the poor. These private organizations could look at each distressed person or family individually and give them the help they needed, not letting them get away with bullshit as easily. Today it is a bureaucrat checking off boxes on a form, with the "less motivated" learning the right answers to give to maintain a low, but very easy, standard of living. Not good for them or our society.

Back to Hairy Thoughts.
I find myself in this kind of discussion fairly often. It is very frustrating to see public statements of moral superiority based on a policy disagreement. In effect, people saying that because they have a different way of solving a problem that they are a better person than I am. They might be, but not for the reasons they assert.

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