During his presidency, Lyndon Johnson declared a “war on poverty.” I do not question his, or anyone else’s, motives when it comes to attacking this plague on not only our society, but the majority of our world. All of us, whatever our political stripe, should want to see poverty eliminated. And while the optimist’s Pollyanna fantasy might envision a world without poverty, even the “glass half empty” among us likely have hopes of reducing poverty.
Is there hope? Yes, there is. But unwinding the entitlement world we live in will take time and patience. And we should not inpulsively pull the rug out from under those dependent upon government subsidies.
Where does it start? With a paradigm shift. Historically in America, families took care of their own. Parents helped their children, irrespective of age. Children took care of their aged parents. Extended families (siblings, uncles, aunts, etc.) accepted responsibility for their relatives. And that attitude fostered accountability. The provider was engaged with the recipient. Healthy strings were attached. A sense of entitlement did not exist. And if the family could not help, people turned to their churches or to civic organizations. Even then, the provider appreciated and made it a point to know what was going on in the recipient’s life.
All that has changed. If the recipient is over eighteen, frequently the would-be provider deems the one in need as a ward of the state. It’s the government’s job. But a faceless government cannot be intimately involved in the recipient’s life. Thus, entitlement and fraud result. Inefficiency abounds – instead of the provider giving directly to the recipient exactly what is needed, funds are routed through the government and only a portion of what comes in, goes out. And what goes out is not based on actual need, but on what the government deems the average recipient needs. Accountability ceases to exist.
We need to unwind. Making families struggle together is healthy. Both for the family and society. Sure, we need to give advanced notice. But we need to start down that path now.
Stay tuned for Part II.