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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Perhaps We Need a War on Dependency

Perhaps We Need a War on Dependency
Do your duty to government, but give your devotion to God. Fight for the dignity of the poor by standing for limited government and the expansion of the real economy. The war on poverty has failed. Perhaps it's time for a war on dependency.

Five great questions of life: Life * Love * Learning * Labor * Leadership

Leadership: What Difference Will I Make?

Perhaps We Need a War on Dependency

By Evan Nehring

In Matthew 22, some Pharisees (religious leaders) came to Jesus and asked him if it was right to pay the imperial tax. This was a tax not on Roman citizens but on conquered subject peoples. Jesus requested a Roman coin, asking the Pharisees whose picture was on it. They had to say that it was Caesar's. Jesus famously replied:
So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.
This was a profound demotion for Caesar! Roman emperor worship stood in stark contrast to Jesus' representation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus was saying, in essence, "Do you duty to the government, but give your devotion to God."

When the government offers salvation for all the ills of man, including poverty, it is Caesar playing God. The results are crippling.

Photo Credit: gamillos on Flickr Creative Commons

The United States' "war on poverty" marks its 50th anniversary this year. (Though the groundwork of progressivism was laid in the late 1800's.) Before his untimely death, President John F. Kennedy issued the proposal for the war on poverty. President Lyndon Johnson then guided the legislation through Congress. 

Thomas Sowell recently wrote about the clearly stated goals of both presidents for the war on poverty:
Its mission was not simply to prove that spending money on the poor led to some economic benefits to the poor. Nobody ever doubted that. How could they? 
What the war on poverty was intended to end was mass dependency on government. President Kennedy said, "We must find ways of returning far more of our dependent people to independence." 
The same theme was repeated endlessly by President Johnson. The purpose of the "war on poverty," he said, was to make "taxpayers out of taxeaters." Its slogan was "Give a hand up, not a handout." When Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark legislation into law, he declared: "The days of the dole in our country are numbered."

Progressives (liberals) today claim that unfettered capitalism is hurting the poor. Heartbroken over the devastation of poverty, I submit to you that our war on poverty is trapping the poor in dependency. Government efforts to redistribute wealth in the US and around the world are breaking the ladder to success. Trillions of dollars have been spent in the US alone and the welfare roles are up. Way up.

A recent census bureau report showed that for the fourth quarter of 2011 more Americans were on some sort of means-tested government program than worked full-time for the entire year. 108 million US residents received one of the following from the government: food aid, housing assistance, social services, educational assistance, cash assistance, vocational training, medical assistance, energy and utility assistance, child care and child development assistance.

Christine Rousselle noted, "If American welfare recipients were counted as a country, they would be the 12th largest in the world."


President Franklin Roosevelt, an earlier progressive Democrat, altered the course of American social programs with his New Deal legislation package in the 1930's. I submit to you that Roosevelt's great expansion of government accelerated welfare state dependency. The FDR memorial pictured above immortalizes Roosevelt's words:
The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

Roosevelt's words reveal government redistribution at the heart of the progressive vision. Every conservative I know believes in a safety net for the poor. However, the utopian dream of FDR, Johnson and today's progressives is to use the government to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. The more we do this, the less we will have of both freedom and prosperity.

This conversation is vital for Christians and compassionate individuals everywhere! The term "economic inequality" is thrown into speeches today as if the whole world knows the evils of capitalism and the compassion of expanded government. I submit to you that free markets are the economic compassion we seek and expanded government is choking off opportunity for all classes of people.

Do your duty to government, but give your devotion to God. Fight for the dignity of the poor by standing for limited government and the expansion of the real economy. The war on poverty has failed. Perhaps it's time for a war on dependency.

Comments Are Always Welcome...

How do you see dependency on the government affecting people in your community?

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1 comment:

  1. Found this great Hillsdale College 3 minute video on Ronald Reagan's understanding of how dependency harms people.