My heart goes out to the many men, women and children who live in poverty and especially those who are homeless. I feel grateful for my abundance. I recognize I need to personally do my part in helping rise people out of poverty and into abundance. While running 10 miles last Friday this was the topic on my mind because I ran past several people who looked homeless and living underneath the Rural Ave. bridge that spans Tempe Town lake in Tempe Arizona.
I believe that we are all created equal and that a person who is homeless or living poor in poverty are no different from me. We are made perfect in the image of God. With that creation we were given two gifts; eternal life and the ability to choose to think and act any way we want (free agency). In my canon of scripture resides God’s mission statement; “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) Notice God did not say what your life would be like, either abundant and happy or miserable and sick. He is leaving that up to you. With the gift of free thought and will, you can choose to fill in the blanks anyway you want.
I don’t believe it’s wise to just keep giving to the poor and not ask anything in return. That is creating people who will only learn poverty and never learn thrift. I believe the only reason many people, including many well-intentioned politicians, want to give to the poor in an unrestrained way is to make themselves feel good and has nothing to do with helping the poor. Many politicians, I’ve come to know, that seem to want to just keep giving tax dollars to the poor, have deep insecurities and feel guilty for what they have in comparison to the poor. In order to purge their insecurity and guilt they feel compelled to just give out freebies like cell phones, food stamps and housing. I believe if the American people didn’t put their foot down these politicians would give additional freebies like college educations and cars. This kind of one-sided giving is not charity because it does not teach a person how to use the gift of agency and move out of their state of poverty.
This nation is founded on principles of independence and thrift. Our Constitution protects the right to choose to act and think anyway we want, God’s second gift, especially the 1st amendment.
Many problems families face they unfortunately face for multiple generations, i.e., alcoholism, divorce, unhappiness until some courageous family member overcomes it and alters that families future course. This shows that families begin to “believe” a way of thinking through multiple generations and it only leads to generational family problems. It is hard to break that generational cycle. This phenomenon is not limited to the poor by the way. Cornelius Vanderbilt built a large fortune exceeding the net worth of the entire US government but he did not teach thrift to his family members. After his death they lived high off the hog and the vast fortune was gone by the 3rd generation.
Did you know that at the turn of the century (1900) about 90% of our population were self-employed? Then a short 80 years later, around 1980, only 20% were self-employed. Today only 5% are self-employed. We’ve transitioned to a society that feels entitled. That attitude directly correlates to how the poor are treated. Many of the poor simply do not believe there can be another way except through entitlement.
When I was growing up I remember sitting around with my dad and my uncles and hearing them say they would never get a government job. They recognized, at that time, that the government was not a solution to creating thrift and they had several negative experiences dealing with government workers. Now today, the largest employer is the US Government.
In all the years I’ve dealt with government employees, especially at the IRS, they would have a tough time making it in the private sector yet they have pensions far exceeding their counterparts in the private sector. That’s just wrong to me. Many of my college accounting student friends with C averages could not get employed privately and at least 3 that I knew could only get a job with the IRS. There is no government worker that has ever created wealth. Wealth is only created in the private sector and that’s why I have a disdain for government workers getting more pay and benefits than anyone in the private sector. In fact, because a government worker has no risk of losing their job if they make a poor choice, the government wastes vast amounts of money.
I really believe that many poor and living in poverty would choose a better way of life and really do not want to be on welfare. Yet I’ve talked to many poor people, while feeding the homeless at St. Timothy’s once a month, that were not always homeless. Yet as I spoke with them many of them had really poor attitudes about life. Many felt the government owed them a living.
Did you know that many people who earn over $250,000 per year were once making less than the poverty limit? That proves that anyone can succeed. And those that do make more than $250,000 annually rarely stay there over a sustained period of time. Again proving that people can make it to the top from the bottom.
Here are simple ideas to help the poor:
- You can’t make it to easy for people to get welfare. Welfare has to be a temporary solution. I like what The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints does to help their members get help. First of all, the funds needed to help a member in need must first come from willing and able family members and not the church. This strengthens families. Second, if a there are no family members that can help, the church then steps in to help. Instead of giving them money for food, housing assistance or utilities, the bishop of the ward issues an order to be filled at the Bishop’s storehouse for food or directly pays the housing or utility bills. The members are never given money directly to use as they please like a government welfare recipient who receives food stamps to be used to purchase unhealthy and expensive food. Then the recipient members schedule time to work at the storehouse or Deseret Industries thrift store to repay the church with an exchange of service. If they became unemployed they are referred to the Church’s employment specialists to either get a work referral or get job skills training. The goal is to rehabilitate the member in various way to once again be independent and self-reliant.
- I would substantially alter the federal and state unemployment insurance system. First, I would not make it last 99 weeks. I would make it only last about 12 weeks. This does two things. One, it make politicians accountable to help stimulate the economy by passing laws that really work. Can you imagine constituents in their states and districts that could not get assistance or a job after 12 weeks? They would vote the politician out of office. Two, it puts responsibility to create an income to the worker and/or his family well ahead of losing a job. This will help people be more responsible for themselves and less dependent on the hand-outs from the government.
- I would abolish Social Security and allow people to create their own private pension plans.
- I would not give “free” anything to welfare recipients. No free cell phones. No free housing. No free money. No free food. This would alter behavior really fast and people would start to figure out how to take care of themselves. The earned income credit was a way to make people actually get a job and file a tax return to gain access to the credit.
- I would recruit people from the private sector who have achieved a measure of success to teach people principles of wealth, income creation and thrift. Many people I know would gladly volunteer their time to teach others without any pay. Most people are willing to give back.
I know there are probably some who will disagree with me. So be it. It’s a step in the right direction.