The Truth About Welfare
The debate rages on: Is government welfare bad, or is it really an extension of charitable service? What is the truth?
There is a whole different side to this discussion that I won’t touch on here and it has to do with constitutionality of programs. Here, I simply want to discuss the inherent “goodness” or “badness” of welfare as we understand it today.
Government welfare provides food, money and shelter for millions of folks in America. On the surface, that sounds wonderful. Dig deeper, and it turns out that America’s welfare program is the exact opposite kind of program of one that really helps people become self-reliant. And, self-reliance should be the ultimate goal of any welfare program.
Welfare for the Disabled
But, what of those who are simply incapable of complete self-reliance for one reason or another?
This great principle [of self-reliance] does not deny to the needy nor to the poor the assistance they should have. The wholly incapacitated, the aged, the sickly are cared for with all tenderness, but every able-bodied person is enjoined to do his utmost for himself to avoid dependence, if his own efforts can make such a course possible; to look upon adversity as temporary; to combine his faith in his own ability with honest toil; to rehabilitate himself and his family to a position of independence; in every case to minimize the need for help and to supplement any help given with his own best efforts. Henry D. Moyle
Notice the point that “every able-bodied person is enjoined to do his utmost for himself to avoid dependence?” In other words, the people who are truly dependent ought to be able to turn to family, then church, then government for help. But those who are able bodied ought to be nurtured back into a state of complete self-reliance.
A Good Example of Welfare
One organization that has a world renowned welfare program, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks of welfare and self-reliance in these terms:
The Lord must want and intend that His people shall be free of constraint whether enforceable or only arising out of the bindings of conscience. … That is why the Church is not satisfied with any system which leaves able people permanently dependent, and insists, on the contrary, that the true function and office of giving, is to help people [get] into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free. Albert B. Bowen
It becomes clear that welfare isn’t just about getting food into bellies and shelter over heads. Welfare is about much more than that. It has at its very core the idea of freedom. Welfare is about bringing the principle of freedom and self-reliance back into the lives of those who have temporarily lost that blessing.
So, is government welfare bad? Yes and no. Again, if you want to ask if it is constitutional, that is another discussion for another day. But, if we are going to have government welfare, which we do, we need to ascertain whether our administering of the welfare programs are done appropriately. That requires asking this question: Are we helping dependent people become independent? If the answer to that is “NO” then our welfare is bad and we need to take the necessary steps to be able to answer “YES.”
What are your thoughts about self-reliance? Leave your comments below: