Obama should heed Benjamin Franklin’s advice on poor

Uh-oh, pigs are about to fly, hell is fixing to freeze over, and yes, the cows are indeed on their way home. That’s right, folks, I’m going to defend the Obama administration — but just a tiny bit.

Statistics indicate that poverty is on the rise in America. In response to liberal critics that enough isn’t being done, the Obama administration countered that it’s been “focused on the education system and supported existing safety-net programs.” Although the left would disagree, I say this is enough. Now the administration should concentrate on doing less. For poverty programs to be at all effective, relief must be certain, timely and, above all else, temporary.

U-Pick-farmingI grew up in an upper-middle-class household where we wanted for very little, if anything at all. Nonetheless, every summer and fall, my mother would march her four grumbling children off to the area U-Pick farms to harvest berries, peaches, pears or whatever else happened to be in season. She then spent the next three nights cleaning, freezing, canning, pickling and preserving. She didn’t have to do it, but from that experience, her kids learned that labor, in and of itself, is noble and good.

Whether arduously digging a ditch under a brutal sun or performing delicate microsurgery in a sterile operating theater, labor gives our life purpose. When we’ve finished our task, we can stand back and proudly say, “I did that!” It’s hard to imagine anyone getting that same satisfaction from sitting in a recliner in front of a television tuned to “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” while stuffing his face with bonbons.

Ben-FranklinBenjamin Franklin once wrote: “I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

In calling for evermore poverty programs, the left will point to the growing disparitybetween the nation’s wealthiest and poorest citizens. They fail to recognize that those at the bottom rung are themselves living better, but simply at a slower rate. This was made clear in a Heritage Foundation study that found that our country’s poorest have most of the modern conveniences previously enjoyed only by the wealthiest. In short, contrary to Franklin’s advice, we’re making the poor comfortable in their poverty and giving them little reason to lift themselves out of it. The study concluded, “The average poor person is far from affluent, but his lifestyle is far from the images of stark deprivation purveyed equally by advocacy groups and the media.”

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher concluded that the income gap is less important than the rise of every person’s status. She made this clear decades ago in a hilarious all-against-onedebate with the left.

Detroit-junk-carA mere 60 years ago, Detroit was the wealthiest city in the country.  During this period, the late GM CEO Charles Erwin Wilson reportedly said, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.” Progressive social policy favoring the poor has since turned Detroit into a city of abandoned homes and boarded-up storefronts. If we continue our current progressive social policies, Wilson’s slogan may become, “As goes Detroit and GM, so goes the country.”

In 1626, Peter Minuit purchased the island of Manhattan from the Lenape Indians for beads and trinkets then worth $24. By this act, he set them on a road to poverty and dependence. Today, we do the same with people on public assistance, but instead of beads and trade goods, today’s trinkets are iPods, color TVs and microwave ovens.


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