As a child, I believed in Santa. As my age rose into the higher single digits, I began to realize that something wasn’t adding up with the Santa Claus story. I don’t remember my age, but it was definitely before age 10, when I realized that Santa had some parental help. Here is how it happened.
I got a super sweet Daisy pellet gun on Christmas morning. That gun may have been my best present ever. More than 3 decades later,
I still have it, and it still works. But on the package that Christmas morning, I noticed something which confirmed a suspicion I had long held: There was a West Brothers Dept. Store tag on the box, and it read $24.95. Either Santa Claus shopped at the same store as my parents, or my parents were really Santa.
I settled on the latter, simpler explanation and learned a lesson which has stuck with me to this day—a lesson which half the adults in America may not fully grasp: There are no free gifts. Somewhere behind the Santa charade someone has worked and earned the money needed for gifts to be given away. This is true under the Christmas tree, and it is true when monthly checks are distributed by the federal government.
Our system of government is currently corrupt and not very compassionate. It “feels” compassionate to double the welfare rolls and promise free medicine to all people, but it is not. True compassion comes from empowering people—not from enslaving them to a political voting block of government dependency.
Take, for example, the injunction of the Apostle Paul:
For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
Paul was not some crass, big-wig Republican Wall Street type. He was a well-educated, but poor tentmaker because he gave away all his money and spent his time and energy working for the kingdom of God, working with his hands by day so he could preach by night and travel to the different churches he was planting.
In giving this injunction to force people to work, Paul was affirming a principle of freedom. God originally created human beings to exercise dominion over the earth, to cultivate the earth, to work the ground and receive the rewards of their labors. There is righteousness in working hard and reaping rewards. Equally, there is poverty and bondage if this natural order is not followed. Making people dependent on the government is the opposite of compassion: It is enslavement. It is bondage. And it is calculated to create a voting block—not to genuinely improve the human condition.
Consider the results of welfare programs in the black community: In the 1960’s, nearly 80% of black families in America were intact families, with both father and mother living at home. Today, 70% of black children in America are born into homes without a father. As a result, poverty has increased. Families have been broken and destroyed by the dependency culture that came about through the “War on Poverty,” which was a political scheme instituted by Lyndon Johnson to get blacks to vote Democrat. In that sense, LBJ’s scheme worked. Blacks do typically vote Democrat. But the results have been disastrous for the black community. (See Star Parker’s testimony below).
The truth is, freedom comes from expecting people to provide for their own families. Freedom comes from empowering people through opportunity to succeed. If someone is unwilling to work, that person should not be fed by the federal government. America was founded on this very principle, and our liberty has been dependent upon maintaining it.
This lesson was, in fact, one of the first lessons learned in the American experiment. In Jamestown, the early colonists had a communal system in which all people were given equal shares of food, irrespective of work performed. Captain John Smith was forced to enact the biblical principle mentioned above in order to increase the work ethic and, thus, provide the food and goods necessary to keep the people of Jamestown alive. Over time, William Bradford came along and instituted private property rights, which not only expected people to grow their own food but also taught them to enjoy the full reward of their labors by owning, improving, and increasing their property (and hence, their prosperity). Smith and Bradford ended up succeeding because of instituting the real-world solution of work and its reward.
There is no such thing as free food. And gifts whether they are given by fat-cat politicians or by bearded men with big bellies—all the same—they cost someone his wages. As it turns out, the Daisy pellet gun I got as a kid is worth far more to me now because I know how hard my parents worked to give it to me. It cost them money they didn’t have to throw away. It was a sacrifice of love and now is a greater gift to me than it was then.
But when the government “gives” money away to people who will not work, they are not giving sacrificially like my parents gave. They are giving to a voter who will, in turn, vote for them. In a word, they are buying votes by taking money from all working Americans to create a voting block of Americans who are getting the “free” benefits of other’s labors.
It is not a legitimate defense of this practice to claim that it represents the compassion of America. Compassion is the task of individuals, of churches, of non-profits. The government cannot legitimately take on the role of compassion because the government neither produces its own wealth nor receives it voluntarily. The government takes wealth from others. It should be free to take wealth only to the extent that it needs funds for defense and infrastructure. When Uncle Sam becomes Santa, all Americans lose wealth, freedom, and prosperity. There is no compassion in government spending. None.
To summarize the point: My parents did show love and compassion when they worked hard, earned their own money, and spent it sacrificially to give a good gift to their son. If my parents had strong-armed their neighbors, taken money from them, and agreed to pay the rent for their other neighbors in exchange for some service, then my parents would not have been compassionate. They would have been criminals. Vote-buying and dependency building is not compassion. It is criminal.
When I was about 10 years old, my dad had a work accident due to negligent equipment repairs, that left him crippled for several years. He was not able to do his job at GE and was later forced into early disability retirement after 30+ years of working there. I remember it was very hard for my family. There was period of time while Dad awaited a settlement from GE where we had no income whatsoever. Dad had to undergo many surgeries attempting to repair nerve damage in his leg and neck. Mom had recently had surgery and was a housewife and mother of three, and was also helping take care of my grandparents who had poor health and lived with us. My family tried to get help. We were denied multiple times and finally got food stamps after literally having to ask relatives for help just to keep the electricity and water turned on. A local church also helped us pay one bill during that difficult time. Granted that was over 20 years ago. But look how things have changed. We had a legitimate reason to need help and couldn’t get it. Now, people who are just plain lazy, can trick the government into paying for almost everything. I’m thankful we had loving relatives that helped us through hard times. I’m thankful we had faith and God’s grace to help us get through it all. My experience with government assistance left a bitter taste in my mouth. It seemed to me everyone could get assistance except the people who had worked hard and really needed the help. Try raising a family on about 30% of your regular income…that’s about what disability retirement amounted to…oh and that settlement from GE, barely paid all the hospital bills. (When I say disability retirement I am talking about money from GE that my Dad paid into for over 30 years…nothing government assisted about that). I agree with Pastor Cochran. We should help those who truly need help, but we should not make people dependent on the government for survival.
Wow, Missy. Yours is a case that most would use to argue that government should be doing more. I really appreciate your sharing these life experiences, which were very difficult, but which also demonstrate that there are means other than the government to provide support. I know from our work in the ministry that we help a great many people, but we are limited because our people can’t give as much as they would like due to high tax rates. When a church or charity gives help, the money simply goes further because non-profits–especially churches–depend on volunteers and thus have much lower overhead costs. Even in situations like yours, there are ways to build in safety nets without the government being in charge. It is just a bad idea to have one group in charge of all the money because they will dole it out to those who will vote for them in the next election, rather than distributing it to those truly in need. There was also a Harvard study done which showed that each dollar the government spends actually costs $1.21 (or something like that) in its drain on the economy. What has happened to America is millions have grown accustomed to the “safety” of a government check, without realizing that our government is 16 trillion dollars in debt (mostly to China). We are the brokest nation on earth. We have no money. We have less than no money. We have bondage indebted to lenders to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars for every man, woman, and child in America. If we could raise 16 trillion dollars in revenue, then we would be broke, left with zero money. As it is, we are way beyond broke in a system that cannot sustain itself. – – Sorry for the rant. I really appreciate your comment.