If you’ve been within sightline or even earshot of the American news within the last few years, you’ve heard the word “entitlements” from the political right and “rights” from the political left. To say it’s a hot topic would be a severe understatement. That’s because it’s not just a political plank for candidates, but something that hits Americans at home.
Every last one of us.
Because we’re either paying for someone else’s benefit, or benefiting from someone else’s payment.
During a scene in the Republican debate in Mesa, Arizona earlier this week, Senator Rick Santorum made an interesting statement – and since I can’t find evidence to the contrary, especially from the liberal media, I must assume it’s accurate:
When I was born, less than 10 percent of the federal budget was entitlement spending. It’s now 60 percent of the budget. Some people have suggested that defense spending is the problem. When I was born, defense spending was 60 percent of the budget. It’s now 17 percent. If you think defense spending is the problem, then you need a remedial math class to go back to.
Certainly a fascinating statistic. But if this is simply a debate about spending, then we’ve missed the point as a nation.
There is a direct connection between assistance and morality.
No one would argue that there are not serious physical and mental needs in any society, including the United States. While we certainly have the highest living standard in the world per capita, our sheer size merits a large amount of need. Any forward thinking society must do due diligence is thinking through how to meet those needs; to ignore it is tantamount to genocide – wiping out the class of the frail and seemingly incompetent.
What must be decided is who is best equipped to manage the need-meeting. The importance of this subject goes far beyond who’s a better money manager, it goes into ethics.
What’s so staggering about Santorum’s quote is not the comparison with military spending, but with the timeline of what America was like when he was born (May 10, 1958) and what she is like today. We are decidedly a far more liberal culture, and more accepting of violence, sexual immorality, and horror, especially through the portals of television, music and the internet. Just 10 years before Santorum was born, the first time a couple had ever been seen sleeping in the same bed was on the Mark Kay and Johnny show. In its day it was considered blasphemy; how much more what we see on major networks at almost any hour of the day in 2012?
So what’s the connection?
As entitlements and people dependent on free handouts has grown – whether services or checks – so too has our culture’s capacity and desire for the immoral. While I don’t have enough statical evidence to draw finite conclusions, I feel confident in that the availability of the free, devoid of accountability and non-contingent on personal work ethic, erodes the senses of a human heart and devalues our sense of self-worth. As such the moral compass spins erroneously until it is finally stowed away, inaccurate and untrustworthy.
Does free human assistance have a place in society then?
Absolutely. But it must be tied to an element which the government can not and should not give. That of the divine.
Human assistance may be free, but it is very expensive. Jesus understood this the most, thus why he claimed that anyone willing to follow him would never thirst again, but the price was the person’s soul. He literally purchased complete human health in every facet with his blood – the key word being purchased. No amount of taxes, spending, “revenue creation,” or donations can come close to what he spent his inheritance on: the entire human condition.
Free care without the kiss of the divine leaves a human soul destitute and wandering. Therefore aid must come from entities equipped not only to help meet physical needs, but to answer the questions of the heart.
While I believe there are many primarily non-profit institutions able to handle the core needs within their environments, I still argue that it is local churches who were intended to shoulder the majority of this burden. And while our governmental entitlement system may never fully recover to a place of health, nor will the Church be able to bear the financial and medial needs of millions of Americans, we can and should be adding our part to the conversation, which is marrying the physical needs being met by the government with the spiritual needs which must be met by the Church. Only then will we see an easing of the incessant and out-of-control entitlement spending, and a resurgence of a self-motivated, hardworking, diligent society.
Benjamin Franklin said:
I am for doing good to the poor, but…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. I observed…that 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.
Government handouts can not meet the human need for identity and self-worth. Only Jesus can. And if Jesus lives in you, then only you can. While voting more conservative spenders into places of authority over the coming years may help slow the problem, only the intervention of the divine through the conduct of the Christian can turn the mire of the present into the foundation of the future. ch: