Saturday, June 9, 2012

What I Found in a Book That Caused Me To Bug Out My Eyes

I just recently a pretty decent book on financial planning. You can read the review here.

However in reading it I came across a chapter that I felt was disturbing.

One of the experts goes into a story about a bully and relating it somehow into stating that poor people on social programs feel entitled. Not that the bully was poor, but somehow it came about to that.

There's an entire conversation in this book about entitlement. He insinuated that everyone on social programs felt entitled and were lazy and would never do anything about it.

Furthermore he was against taxes that helped people and taxes that supported things like zoos, museums and other programs that were for the benefit of society.

First off, let's talk about entitlement. Entitlement can happen with anyone. The rich are often the ones who feel the most entitled. Paris Hilton comes to mind. Children of rich kids can take everything they have for granted. Donald Trump himself commented on how it is that rich people get so much free stuff. And there's always those grown kids who refuse to leave home because why should they when Mom and Dad provide everything. But it's not just those born into wealth who can feel entitled, those who worked hard and earned their money will often take the attitude that they can do anything they want because they earned it.

I'll give my own example.

When I got divorced I lost my home in the process. We had to sell it and we broke even on it. We didn't owe anything and we didn't walk away with anything. Because I had stayed home with my children I didn't have work experience or a job and I had to go and get help with housing or the children and I would have been out on the street. I quickly discovered that the driveway of the government owned house I moved into was too high and scraped the bottom of my car. Added to that the neighbors had a big truck and a motor home parked on the street which impeded my sight lines. I was taking a chance everytime I backed out of my driveway. So, I parked on the street in front of my house.

It turns out that these same neighbors felt that I was taking their parking space. They were used to parking there and they resented my car being in front of my house. For three years these people bullied me and my family. Their kids threw eggs at our windows, and broke things and their parents would verbally attack me anytime they saw me. They felt entitled, as they said, because he was making money and they had expensive vehicles and no where to park them and I was taking up valuable space.

So entitlement has nothing to do with how much money you have.

I do believe that people are entitled to some things. People, because we are all children of God, are entitled to respect and love. They are entitled to a warm, safe place to live and food to eat and clothes to wear. They are entitled to an education and medical help. And in our society it doesn't hurt to have running water, heat and electricity. Those are basics. We're not talking fancy cell phones and satellite tv and Gucci shoes here. We're talking basics. Everyone deserves that and it's our responsibilty as humans to provide that to everyone, because not only does it raise them up, it raises us up. We have been commanded of God to be our brother's keepers. What's more, we are to do it without lectures or justification for the need of help.

I also believe that people want more than the basics and they should work for it and it shouldn't be handed to them. And people should work when they are able to do it. Work is enobling.

There appears to be the belief that because some people abuse the system, then all people abuse the system, therefore we shouldn't help anyone. Yet many people can suffer not just one set back but a whole series of set backs in spite of all they try and do.

The experts go into how the welfare system has hurt people, and sure it has, but I want to talk about how the welfare system has helped people.

-Social programs provides homes for those who cannot provide for themselves for whatever reason.
-The unemployed. This includes
      • those who are trying to find a job but haven't had success
      • those who are underemployed and can't make ends meet
      • those who are willing and able to work but have restrictions on the kind of work they can do, such as physically not able to do many jobs, lack of transportation, or family duties (for instance: single women can't take jobs that require odd hours or moving away from their children, and some people take care of infirm elderly or handicapped children.
-The elderly
-The physically or mentally disabled
-The mentally ill
-single mothers. This is a sore spot for me. We give lip service to mom's staying at home, but the minute she doesn't have a man to take care of her she's labled lazy. She's expected to find a job, any job and work flipping burgers only to turn her paycheck over to a babysitter. It doesn't make economic sense for a woman to make minimum wage and then pay someone else to watch her kids. Added to that, sometimes the reasons she's a single mom is the reason why she should be at home with her kids who may very well be traumatized and need their mother more, not less. When are we going to recognize that taking care of children is important work?
- Children – this is the most vulnerable people of all. They can't get jobs to support themselves and they are ENTITLED to be taken care of.

The other thing social programs have done is they've kept families together. Before social programs when there were hard times children were sent out to work, forced to give up their educations, divied out to other people, or given up to foster care and orphanages. Dr. Bernhard in England had a program where he sent orphans over to Canada to be taken in by farmers. Those children were treated as slaves. What's more, not all were orphans. Many were given up by their poor families with the hope that their children would have a new and better life. If the only thing good coming out of social programs is keeping families together, then isn't that worth it? If family is the most important and the central point of civilization then shouldn't we do everything we can to support families?

There also seems to be the attitude that the government is one entity and the people are another. That is the case in the case of communism and monarchies, but in a democracy, the government is the people. What better way to support the people than through the people?

Those that claim that government shouldn't be involved have no other solutions. But if the government is the people then why not have them organize the social programs?

The experts also were against having taxes pay for things that we all benefit by. Sure they're willing to pay taxes for roads and the police force, but things like museums, zoos, the arts, community sports etc, are seen as something not worth paying for. Don't have kids? Then why should you pay for education? Don't like to read? Then why should you support libraries? Hate swimming? Then you certainly don't want your money going to the community pool. For that matter, if you're agoraphobic then why should you have to pay for roads and parks since you never go outside? Could society actually afford anything if each individual only paid for the things that were important to him or her?

Now let me make something clear. I agree that governments waste money. I believe that governments need a complete overhaul as far as budgeting. However cutting important programs should not be part of the overhaul.

I work in a museum. This kind of thinking would mean the loss of jobs like mine.

I fail to see how putting people out of work helps the economy. Not only do these experts advocate getting rid of social programs they advocate doing things that would cost a lot of jobs. And we're not talking make work jobs to earn a dime, we're talking about real jobs that provide a service. We all know people who work for the government or are in jobs that are affected by government grants. Even if our job is safe do we really want to see our friends and relatives unemployed?

In order for museums, zoos, swimming pools, libraries etc to survive they would have to charge such high entrance and user fees that only the rich could afford to use them, and they still wouldn't have enough money.

As it is so many programs are under funded and under staffed. Now these experts want to make those who survive the cuts spend all their time on fundraising instead of what they're supposed to be doing.

It creates a society of the very rich and the very poor. It creates more theft because people have to eat. It creates more prostitution (including child prostitution). It creates more drug trafficking. It creates children who are homeless and starving. It creates resentment because it's hard not to be resentful when you're freezing in the shadow of a huge mansion. It creates the world that Charles Dickens wrote about.
It's the very world that the Lord warns against.

Now I'm not against the rich. I would like to be one of the rich. I think the rich should go ahead and buy their yachts and mansions and private jets and have their fancy parties and expensive weddings because those things puts money back into the economy. Those things mean that goods and services are being sold and other people are making money. This is a good thing. And although I believe that it's smart to have healthy savings and provide for your future and stay out of debt, hoarding money doesn't help anyone.

But where much is given, much is expected. And those who earn the money are not owners of the money but merely stewards. So while there needs to be spending there needs to be giving as well. Homeless people can't contribute to the economy, so why create more?

One of the most inspiring men I have ever seen was on a news program. He was homeless and he explained that whenever he had two sets of gloves, he gave one away (this is in a cold place). When he was asked why he didn't use the homeless shelter he replied that he didn't want to take up space that could go to a woman and her children. This man had nothing, and yet he gave what little he had. I couldn't do that and even God doesn't expect that kind of sacrifice from us. Yet this man who most people probably avoided and looked down on had so much love and so much to teach. I don't know how he became homeless. Does it really matter? Bad things happen. We all make mistakes. And yes, some people choose to be homeless and there isn't much you can do about that but provide a bowl of soup and a warm blanket, but that doesn't mean that no one deserves our help. We take better care of criminals than we do of those who have followed the rules and still found themselves in dire circumstances.

Sure not paying taxes would put more money in our pockets for the short term, but does it benefit us in the long haul and is it good economic sense?

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