Welfare Versus the Benefit of Work
by Bill Lockwood
Commonplace are the stories such as the one that broke on March 22 about Nicholas Jackson in Martin County, FL. The 36-year-old was arrested after allegedly stealing a $60,000 BMW after he had tried to purchase it the day before using his EBT card (Electronic Benefit Transfer) and a credit card. Deputies from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jackson after he ran out of gas because he didn’t have the money to fill the tank.
Jackson, an able-bodied man who has been living on the public dime, illustrates how the State-Sponsored Welfare system has turned the American Dream into the American Nightmare. By unconstitutionally and immorally transferring wealth from the working segment of society to others, our government masters have created an ungodly environment which has become an entire civilization built on graft.
Left out of this equation is the righteous biblical principle of work. Whatsoever thy hand finds to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, whither you are going (Ecc. 9:10). Whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men (Col. 3:23). If a man does not work, neither let him eat (2 Thess. 3:10).
The last passage above shows that God has actually “built into the natural system” the consequence of hunger as motivation encouraging men to work. The inspired apostle Paul points out negative consequences that follow if people do not fulfill their God-ordained productive role. They become “idle, tattlers also and busybodies” (1 Tim. 5:13). Those are slight offenses compared to what is now being witnessed in the streets of America.
Now two public policy institutes, The American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, have jointly-produced a recent report dealing with the issue of fighting poverty in America, and have discovered that there is wisdom in the Bible. The report, “Opportunity, Responsibility, and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream,” focuses upon three issues: opportunity, responsibility, and security.
Under the heading “Responsibility,” the report reads: “America is a free society, but freedom comes with responsibilities. Responsibility is the state of being accountable for things over which one has control, or has a duty of care. Family life is a network of mutual responsibilities. So is work life. …When people fail in their responsibilities, they should shoulder the blame.” It might be added that not only should individuals shoulder the blame, but the consequences of poor choices. It was the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt which effectively turned this on its head by insisting that Freedom meant, not only freedom of speech, and freedom of worship, but freedom from want (hunger, medicine, etc.).
By this manipulation he actually wanted to secure the needs of some of the population by strong-arming the goods from another segment. “Freedom from want” is actually, as columnist Charles Scaliger calls it, a “security,” not “freedom.” This is disallowing the God-designed motivating consequence from effecting those for whom it is designed while at the same time laying the burden upon those who are productive. Just as refusing to allow children to fail in school does not strengthen their resolve to do better, so refusing to allow people to remain in poor stations of life strengthen their desire for improvement.
What has been the result? Our entire western culture is breaking down beneath the weight of unmanageable debt, gigantic crushing socialistic government, and family values that have been completely gutted. Every community has the Nicholas Jackson’s who roam the streets looking for trouble, financed by the taxpaying citizen. Or, as the Joint Report stated it, “… a less energetic civil society, high rates of incarceration, [a] weaker attachment to the labor force among less-educated men, and the rising prevalence of single-parent families among the less-educated.”
It might be interesting to know what percentage of those Community-Disturbers called Organizers, who are wreaking havoc in American cities right now are on the public dole. We are paying for our own demise. The Devil’s Workshop is normally created by idle hands. No person motivated by the principles of Christ denies assisting others who are truly in need. But this individual or congregational action is far different from the system of graft we see now incorporated into law called Welfare.
Not only is work good for a person’s physical health, but spiritual health as well. The principle of being busy in life doing good things not only removes the problematic “idle time” which makes for the “devil’s workshop,” but actually is a key ingredient to man’s happiness. Solomon describes life as a difficult journey filled with sorrows: “It is better to go into the house of mourning than to go into the house of feasting” (Ecc. 7:2). Work is thus an opportunity for man to find compensation for these woes.
Here is a passage from an English writer of yesteryear, William H.E. Lecky, on this topic: “The habit that so often grows upon men with slight chronic maladies, or feeble temperament, or idle lives, of making their own health and their own ailments the constant subject of their thoughts becomes a disease very fatal to happiness and positively injurious to health. … ‘It is not by being anxious in an inordinate or unduly fussy fashion that men can hope to live long and well. The best way to live well is to work well. Good work is the daily test and safeguard of personal health… The practical aim should be to live an orderly and natural life. We were not intended to pick our way through the world trembling at every step … It is worse than vain, for it encourages and increases the evil it attempts to relieve … I firmly believe one half of the confirmed invalids of the day could be cured of their maladies if they were compelled to live busy and active lives and had no time to fret over their miseries… One of the most seductive and mischievous of errors in self-management is the practice of giving way to inertia, weakness and depression … Those who desire to live should settle this well in their minds, that nerve power is the force of life and that the will has a wondrously strong and direct influence over the body through the brain and the nervous system.”—The Map of Life, 1904.
We have created the Nicholas Jackson’s of the world through liberal social engineering. Perhaps it is time to re-examine the entire philosophical foundation upon which it is built.