A Christian’s Heart 3-12-2012
America the Fool
Tyranny on the march in Washington.
This article by Jeffrey T. Kuhner in the Washington Times shows how scary it’s getting in Washington under our current president.
Mr. Obama has now asserted that he can lead America into a full scale war without the consent of Congress. This is a blatant power grab, a blatant violation of our Constitution, but only one of the many that our president has engaged in during his term. What I’m wondering is, why is Congress so silent. This is not a partisan issue: this is an issue of the very survival of our constitutional democracy – of America itself.
Just to let everyone know, my March 19 blog may be delayed a few days.
America the Fool
Building a Tyranny on the Backs of the Poor
“[The] Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)
In this blog I will begin to discuss the destructive welfare state that has been building since the 1930s, getting a rocket boost with the Great Society programs of 1965. Here I assert that Anti-poverty programs are not primarily about alleviating the causes of poverty in this country; they are, rather, about redistributing income between groups; the politicians who depend on them to stay in office by pandering to people’s greed, sowing hatred between classes, and by this encourage the rule of the mob.
I am not questioning here the desirability of helping those in need; I absolutely believe that the strong in a wealthy society such as ours have a moral obligation to help the weak. As demonstrated by the very Word of God quoted above, this is the core and basis of truly living the Christian faith. What I am going to question is how we’ve gone about doing this. The bottom line: the welfare state, well-meaning as its origins might be, is destroying this country, the poor it was designed to help and the freedoms we cherish.
To begin, the definition our government uses for poverty is very complex, involving 48 income thresholds as measured by the Census Bureau. A quick and easy summary of these thresholds can be found at this site. They are so complex, however, that to see them in all their enormous detail one must download an excel spreadsheet at this site . This is also very important: poverty as defined in this country is NOT synonymous with severe deprivation. Those defined as poor in this country are not poor as the world, or as the typical American, would define the word.
Note that as the level of average income increases in America, these thresholds tend to be adjusted upward, so that the number of poor tends to stay the same, no matter how wealthy Americans become. Thus the politicians that run the poverty industry in this country are always assured of having a group dependent on their generosity. Of course, it costs them nothing to be generous with our money. And anyone who questions their intentions with regard to the poor is labeled cruel, bigoted, racist, stupid: a downright all round bad person. This is indeed the behavior of political oppressors, megalomaniacal (you bring a knife, I bring a gun) politicians—tyrants: shut off all debate by intimidating and punishing those who call their actions into question.
As pointed out by Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield in this article, if you were to ask a typical American what poverty was, they’d rightly say that poverty is synonymous with severe deprivation: “destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter.” Yet a careful reading of Rector and Sheffield’s paper, this type of deprivation is uncommon in this society. In fact:
- The poorest Americans [as defined by official government statistics] today live a better life than all but the richest persons a hundred years ago.
- The home of the typical poor family was not overcrowded and was in good repair. In fact, the typical poor American had more living space than the average European.
- The typical poor American family was also able to obtain medical care when needed.
- By its own report, the typical family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.
- 78 percent of poor households had air conditioning, 64 percent had cable or satellite TV, and 38 percent had a personal computer.
This cannot be repeated enough: when Rector and Sheffield refer to the “poor” family, it is defined not by the deprivation it suffers, but by how it’s income fits into one of the 48 Poverty Thresholds the U.S. Census Bureau uses.
In the same paper under a paragraph labeled Misrepresenting Poverty in America Rector and Sheffield state, in part:
As noted, for the average American, the word “poverty” implies significant material hardship and deprivation. Politicians, activists, and the mainstream media reinforce this image, asserting that each year, over 35 million Americans live in chronic material deprivation, unable to obtain “the basic material necessities of life.”
For example, former Senator and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards made poverty the centerpiece of his repeated campaigns for the presidency. Edwards proclaimed that 37 million Americans “struggle with incredible poverty.”He explicitly equated poverty as defined by the Census Bureau with dramatic unfulfilled material need. According to Edwards, America’s poor, who number “one in eight of us…do not have enough money for the food, shelter, and clothing they need.” The poor, he said, were forced to live in “terrible” circumstances.
As seen from a close examination of the statistics presented in this article by Rector and Sheffield, this statement is absolutely false! They then continue:
In a campaign to promote higher welfare spending [my emphasis], Catholic Charities USA tells the public that the government-defined poor lack the basic material necessities of life:
“We speak of [the United States] being the land of plenty: a country with living standards so high that others wish to emulate our success. But for nearly 37 million Americans there is another story. What is life like in this other America? How can it be that millions of us lack the basic material necessities of life?” [I have added the quote marks around this paragraph.]
Continuing under the section labeled Confusing Poverty and Deprivation, Rector and Sheffield state, in part:
For example, confusion [between poverty (as defined by the government, as in: I don’t have the same income as someone not defined as “poor”) and deprivation (I can’t feed or house myself or my family)] of this sort can be found in Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America by evangelical Ronald J. Sider. Sider begins his book with a chapter entitled “What Does Poverty Look Like?” in which he informs his readers, “In 2005, in the United States, 37 million people lived in poverty in the richest society in human history.” … But Sider is seriously misleading when he implies that such living conditions are representative of 37 million poor people. [Bold face type is my emphasis]
Rector and Sheffield, under Depictions of Poverty in the News Media, then point out how the mainstream news media parrot these misleading statements. They conclude by saying:
To the extent that the networks suggest that the living standards of these families are representative of the living conditions of 35 million poor people across the nation, they are profoundly misleading viewers.
Of course the truth about the extent of real poverty in this country is not reported in the mainstream media because, as I’ve pointed out in a previous blog, it has become the propaganda arm of the collectivist redistributionist tyrants in our government.
As Rector and Sheffield state in the same paper under Increasing the Misinformation: Obama’s New “Poverty” Measure:
There is a vast gap between poverty as understood by the American public and poverty as currently measured by the government. Sadly, President Barack Obama plans to make this situation worse by creating a new “poverty” measure that deliberately severs all connection between “poverty” and actual deprivation. This new measure will serve as a propaganda tool in Obama’s endless quest to “spread the wealth” and will eventually displace the current poverty measure.
Under the new measure, a family will be judged poor if its income falls below certain specified income thresholds or standards. There is nothing new in this, but unlike the current poverty income standards, the new income thresholds will have a built-in escalator clause. They will rise automatically in direct proportion to any rise in the living standards of the average American.
The new poverty measure will produce very odd results. For example, if the real income of every single American were to triple magically overnight, the new poverty measure would show no drop in poverty because the poverty income standards would also triple. Under the Obama system, poverty can be reduced only if the incomes of the “poor” are rising faster than the incomes of everyone else. Another paradox of the new poverty measure is that countries such as Bangladesh and Albania will have lower poverty rates than the U.S.—even though the actual living conditions in those countries are extremely low—simply because they have narrower distribution of incomes, albeit very low incomes. [My emphasis]
According to Obama’s measure, economic growth has no impact on poverty.[My emphasis]
The Tyrants know that an overwhelming majority of Americans would not agree to support the vast federal poverty industry spending, funded by their confiscatory tax policy, if they were to propose such a tremendous redistribution of wealth head on. No indeed: the tyrants knowingly exaggerate the extent of real poverty in America to justify their confiscatory tax and spend policies. And Americans, naturally a kind-hearted people, willingly allow their wealth to be confiscated to alleviate the problem as presented falsely by the collectivist politicians.
In our increasingly authoritarian society, programs to relieve poverty have become weapons of oppression in the hands of tyrants. For anyone who disagrees with them or who wants to propose policies that will actually alleviate poverty in this country is characterized as a bigot or racist, being cruel and unfeeling, leaving the impression that he is lower than the scum of the earth. The tyrants, by knowingly misrepresenting the nature of poverty in America, pander to human greed and the sense of victimization their political rhetoric has built up over many decades. This leads to class characterizations being made (e.g. that one class, “the poor” or the 99% are the victims of the 1%) that sow hatred for one class against another. (We can see expressions of this class hatred (and the beginning of mob rule in this country) through the Occupy Wall Street movement which expresses human greed in all its forms and leaves ugliness and filth in its wake. )
In the next blog (hopefully forthcoming March 19) I will discuss how these anti-poverty programs are actually increasing deprivation and want in America by destroying people’s will to work, and encouraging people to consider themselves entitled to the work of other people’s hands; that they (the victims of the wealthy) deserve to get welfare payments, even if they are physically able to work.