Where do we draw the line on “Welfare” and who draws that line?

I recently made the following comment on Facebook:

I had just finished a really good long conversation with a friend about the lack of opportunities so many kids have in life, all because of the parents they have, the neighborhoods they live in, violent crime committed against them, or a multitude of other circumstances completely outside of their control.

That long conversation with a friend started because my family just adopted a dog.  She was a rescue dog and obviously had been abused.  She is afraid of any object you hold that even remotely looks like you could hit her with it, and if I yell at her for doing something bad, she runs away terrified.  It makes me mad that people treat animals like that.  From there it led the discussion toward the anger we have over sexual and physical violence against children, and how much that harms that child for the rest of their life.

But it isn’t just physical violence that harms a child for the rest of their life.  My wife was working with a little girl in Prior Lake who still didn’t know how to read when all the other kids had been reading for a couple years.  The little girl’s parents were in jail, and her grandma didn’t work, was disabled and couldn’t read herself.  Andrea was able to read to her, and helped to get her reading.  That little girl didn’t have any books at home, and she will not have anybody to help her with homework.  Is that little girl going to be as successful as my kids?  It is possible, but the odds are not good.

A teacher liked my post and commented that “We do our best to level the playing field.”

Farmington School Board member Brian Treakle added this comment

But we don’t need to keep score!  It does not need to be equal.  If it helps, it can be more.  In Luke 6:38 (CEV) Jesus said “If you give to others, you will be given a full amount in return. It will be packed down, shaken together, and spilling over into your lap.”  There shouldn’t be a “political rift” because in the end, the help we give benefits all of us.  It spills over into our community and economy.

But certain people don’t get that or care about it.  Some people are so concerned about keeping score, that it fogs their vision of being a neighbor, or worse yet blocks their entire view of what a strong and safe community should be.  I think a lot of those people might even be jealous because somebody is getting something they are not.  It isn’t that that person is undeserving, it is that old selfish question “what about me?”

Board Member Treakle stated that “we run into [m]ost of the problems in politics” by “equalizing.”  I’m not sure I would call it equalizing.  I think I would call it being a neighbor, or a brother.  It shouldn’t be political, it should be about compassion and justice, and when I use the lens of being a brother and neighbor, a little “equalizing” is okay.

In response to Board Member Treakle’s comment I posted this Farside cartoon.

I think this Farside comic is an example of what might happen if we quit caring — if we quit being neighbors.  I think it is an example of what happens if we give people the opportunity for success as children through education, then let them struggle as adults, and give up on them if they are not successful, according to Brian’s comments.

Maybe the “wolves and other large predators” are really drugs, gangs, pimps, loan sharks.  Maybe it is early death, unnatural death or suicide.  It can be anything, and it doesn’t have to be an inner city stigma, it can be suburban unemployment, chronic health issues, or whatever.

Board Member Treakle was not happy with my cartoon post.  He followed it with the following comment:

I am hateful, hate success and like to hand out trophies when people fail, so maybe I need a little help.  Since I don’t understand “the vision that Republicans have” and my use of this cartoon is partisan and inaccurate, let’s use an example that maybe Brian or another Republican friend can explain what would happen in a real life, but similar situation to the cartoon above.

A 45 year old man suffers from the invisible illness of clinical depression.  Over the last 5-10 years, his parents have passed away, and his wife divorced him and took the kids because his unhappiness was making them unhappy.  Medications have not been effective.  He missed a lot of work, and when he did go, most of the time he wasn’t really there mentally or physically.  When the bad economy forced layoffs at his company, he was on the chopping block as expendable.

His depression worsens.  He does everything he can to find a job, but he doesn’t have the drive another person might have to find a job.  Over the months unemployment benefits end, his bank account dries up, his health insurance ends and his depression worsens to the point that he sleeps 15-20 hours a day.

Do we as a society have a responsibility to help him, or do we let the wolves get him?  Do we let him lose his house, live on the streets, and eat garbage if he wants to survive, or do we extend the length of time we help him?  What if there are ten people like this, or a hundred, or a thousand?

What if it is somebody who made some poor choices in life, didn’t finish school, had children as a teenager, and maybe drank too much or used drugs for a while?  Maybe she even huffed and has a little brain damage.  Do we let the wolves get her and her children?

So Board Member Treakle and Republican friends who agree that I am hateful, hate rich people and think I would be happier living in the Soviet Union in the 1970s, please tell me that either as a society we are better off if those “weak” people just die, or tell me what dollar amount we stop supporting them at, and tell me what we do when we reach that dollar amount.  Or tell me how a random date in the future to stop benefits like four years is a magical number that solves everything, and tell me what we do when we reach that random date and people aren’t “cured.”  Tell me how we decide who gets what.

If you can’t tell me, and you don’t have an actual solution, then don’t argue that my solution to take care of these people the best we can isn’t the most logical idea right now.

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One thought on “Where do we draw the line on “Welfare” and who draws that line?”

  1. How do Preachers of the Prosperity Gospel explain :
    In Luke 6:38 (CEV) Jesus said “If you give to others, you will be given a full amount in return. It will be packed down, shaken together, and spilling over into your lap.” ?

    A number of televangelists, such as Mac Hammond who is now actively campaigning for soon-to-be-Presidentress Michele Bachmann, preach some form of the prosperity gospel, which teaches that God wants to bless the faithful with earthly riches. Ministers in this tradition often hold up their own wealth as evidence that the teaching works.

    Are they Givers or Recievers … especially when you consider the availabitly for personal use of church-owned airplanes, luxury homes and credit cards by pastors and their families, as well as the lack of oversight of finances by boards often packed with the televangelists’ relatives and friends….

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