In today’s world, we have the
entitlement mentality, which is based on the belief in redistribution of
wealth, or “pooling of wealth” for the common good. This is not a new concept.
The early apostles did the same when they started spreading the word about
Jesus. They sold their assets, and pooled their money, which was for communal
living. The money ran out because some did not want to work any more, and that
is where their economic problems began. The apostle Paul later wrote that they
needed to enforce the rule: “If you
don’t work, you don’t eat.” This is
accounted in the Book of Acts and Thessalonians. (I will not quote the verses
here, with the intention that you can go and find them yourselves and learn
more.) Paul himself worked as a tentmaker to provide for his living while he
spread the Gospel. How far are we from that kind of society when we talk about
redistribution of income, vast entitlement programs and people wanting more
support from their friends and neighbors via pooling of resources? Will we lose the motivation to provide for
ourselves and just do what we want to do?
The answer I believe is obvious: Some will, and some won’t. Does this
concept conflict with what I said about being others-centered? Absolutely
not. If we are truly others-centered, we
do not want to live off others and take from them continually. I know fully
well that you both had early goals to get off Judy’s and my payroll. You wanted
to be independent, and you cared enough about us that you did not want to
deplete the resources we had. I’m very proud of what you have accomplished.
There are people on welfare, food
stamps, or unemployment who make earnest efforts to become self-sufficient and
thrive on their own. They do not want to live off their friends and neighbors,
and they want a better life than the subsistence income that many entitlement
programs provide. They do not want to be “owned” by anyone. They may be
short-term “victims” but they are working to overcome this contentious status.
There will always be those that believe food stamps or other “government
benefits” are there for the taking, and they are entitled to them because they
have many kids or are pursuing their dream to change the world. This is a
selfish existence, ignoring whatever one needs to do to provide for their
That is not to say that we do not
have a responsibility to help the poor. There always will be people that cannot
work, and they deserve our help, but we should be very careful with programs
that only encourage those who choose not to figure out a path to independent
survival. We are depriving them of obtaining the self-esteem that comes with
self-sufficiency. I do not believe it is only the very poor that are in this situation.
It seems that many people simply lack critical financial survival skills. Many
live precariously for a few years until they decide to strive for a future,
make a living, and provide for themselves. I’m referring to those who are
without health insurance, have “maxed out” credit cards, and a low paying job
even if they do have a college education. Supposedly, in college, people are
shown tools needed for success, but many have difficulty assembling these tools
for their own survival once out on their own. I believe that motivation is the
key to survival, and not education alone. I also believe that if you are
motivated that you will get the education you need to survive. Education is not
an end; it is a means to an end. You can also learn by reading, which is free.
Formal education is overrated and reading is underrated.