But when you referenced it you didn't tender it in that context. You were responding, as many Christians do, when confronted with the problem of poverty, in a manner that's meant to shut out and shut down.
Of course, we’ll always have the poor among us. I think this is where the churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and social organizations can certainly be doing more to alleviate suffering, and probably would be if the government wasn’t providing such a vast safety net. Voluntary contributions by members and programs administered and maintained by non-profits on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged would not have the detrimental effect on productivity and the economy that forced government aid does.
L.R., I made the above statement with the intent to express my views on how I think that the private and religious organizations should bear the primary burden of responsibility regarding the poor, in light of the fact that they will always be with us, not with the intent to shut out and shut down. I do believe that it is a fact of life, and not a defeatist attitude.
Yes, there are shortcomings and abuses no matter who bears the primary burden. Some government programs are necessary, some probably are not. I think that they should all be revisited to attempt to weed out the waste and abuse as much as possible.
I don't see the long term benefit to society when programs, however good intentioned, have the effect of fostering dependency, generation after generation, depriving people of the satisfaction of personal achievement. I know that the welfare reform signed by Clinton was suppossed to address this issue, but the time limits set keep getting extended and extended and extended. Perhaps in lieu of a total cut-off of benefits, a system of gradual benefit step-downs of some sort as people prepare for self-sufficiency could be studied.
Yes, of course I would have accepted the benefits if I had qualified. I know that limits have to be set at some level, but I think when someone is that close to the poverty line, some sort of sliding scale could be used to at least have allowed for food stamps for a period of time. I don't know how well I would say the system works when some have all their needs met, and some in need get absolutely nothing due to the standards utilized.
But the main point is that we managed to survive without any help. We didn't have health benefits or a prescription plan. I had to pay the full rent for my house, utilities and day care. I had to go to court without a lawyer three times. We couldn't afford a car. We wore hand-me-down clothes. Most of the time we were low on food. Church food pantries had pretty much disappeared in my area due to a decline in donations. I did get a box of food at Thanksgiving once, though, from a local church. At one point I didn't have a refrigerator for about a week when ours broke, so I had to put the perishables on the back porch in the snow until I was able to get a second-hand one from someone who had just purchased a new one (and all this while living "underground" for 2 years hiding from a maniacal wife beater.)
Looking back on those years I realize that I learned first-hand how indomitable the human spirit can be and how we can survive far greater hardships than we think we can. I guess you can't put a price tag on that.