Monday, January 31, 2011

Utah Homemakers for America Lincoln's Lesson: The Value of Work

Theoretically, after President Clinton and Newt Gingrich’s Republican congress reformed welfare, one could only receive benefits for 5 years. This made a big difference for people and for the economy. The reforms were a good thing. However, in the interest of compassion, there are exceptions/loopholes meant to make sure that we help the truly needy. Unfortunately, they are abused. How?
"It depends on how committed one is to staying on welfare. The first wave is to have kids and be poor. In theory, you have 5 years of the dole for that. If you can get a physician to give you a phantom illness diagnosis, you can get disability payments forever (mental disorders are harder for the government to are back injuries). Another tact is to do a terrible job raising your kids, so that they appear to have severe Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder...and apply for them to get disability. That can go on until the youngest one is 18." (Annon., Licensed Clinical Social Worker...and eyewitness.)
Recently an article appeared in the UK Daily Mail with some truly stunning claims. "269,000 homes are occupied by adults who do nothing and have never done anything to support themselves, the ONS said. The figure is just under double the 136,000 homes where the occupants had never worked recorded in Tony Blair’s election victory year of 1997."
Another article in the Mail makes this claim, "...almost 1.8million children, one in seven of all under 16s, growing up in households entirely dependent on state handouts."
I wasn’t able to find statistics about how many children in the U.S. live in homes where parents have never held a job. There are many statistics about how many poor there are, but none that I could find about efforts put forward by the victims of poverty. The long cherished American standard of fairness has become an entitlement mentality. Watch a short, but fascinating debate here:
Why do so many choose this life? I’m not sure. But, I know that our current welfare policies reward failure and when one does just a little bit better, one is punished. Even our tax policies are structured in a way that punishes achievement. 47% of American families effectively pay no federal tax. Those who make below a certain amount can qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit, (a program where the government taxes the poor and then gives them their money back.. which costs the actual tax payers millions a kind of monetary attrition where the original dollar is worth much less than the dollar in the end process. Government does not have the ability to add value.)
EITC is a program where you get money back from the government for simply being among the group the government has deemed "the working poor". But, if you make above a certain amount that EITC quickly disappears. And, you are actually paying taxes. The more you succeed, the higher percentage of the government’s bill you are expected to pay. If you happen to be one of the lucky few who succeeds into the top 1% of income earners in the United States, you will be paying nearly 40% of the government’s bill.

Utah Homemakers Believes: Each member of the human race possesses an intrinsic dignity with a right to freedom and self-determination. We uphold the principles of work, education, and industry as crucial elements of self-determination and the preservation of human dignity. Therefore, we encourage welfare services that promote the development of self-reliance. We support humanitarian efforts of compassion to provide for the basic needs of citizens in times of hardship and persuade all social institutions to support individuals in their quest for self-determination and employment opportunities.

What is the answer to caring for the poor and those who are unemployed? A flat tax? Maybe. But, whatever the answer is, it is something that promotes the dignity of work and self reliance. I was interested to see how one of our most beloved presidents handled this problem in his own family.

A Letter From Lincoln To His Brother-In-Law

Dear Johnston:
--Your request for eighty dollars, I do not think it best to comply with now. At the various times when I have helped you a little, you have said to me, "We can get along very well now," but in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty again. Now this can only happen by some defect in your conduct. What that defect is, I think I know. You are not _lazy_, and still you _are_ an _idler_. I doubt whether since I saw you, you have done a good whole day's work, in any one day. You do not very much dislike to work, and still you do not work much, merely because it does not seem to you that you could get much for it. This habit of uselessly wasting time, is the whole difficulty; and it is vastly important to you, and still more so to your children, that you should break this habit. It is more important to them, because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle habit before they are in it easier than they can get out after they are in.
You are now in need of some ready money; and what I propose is, that you shall go to work, "tooth and nail," for somebody who will give you money for it. Let father and your boys take charge of things at home--prepare for a crop, and make the crop; and you go to work for the best money wages, or in discharge of any debt you owe, that you can get. And to secure you a fair reward for your labor, I now promise you that for every dollar you will, between this and the first of next May, get for your own labor either in money or in your own indebtedness, I will then give you one other dollar. By this, if you hire yourself at ten dollars a month, from me you will get ten more, making twenty dollars a month for your work. In this, I do not mean you shall go off to St. Louis, or the lead mines, or the gold mines, in California, but I mean for you to go at it for the best wages you can get close to home, in Coles County. Now if you will do this, you will soon be out of debt, and what is better, you will have a habit that will keep you from getting in debt again. But if I should now clear you out, next year you will be just as deep in as ever. You say you would almost give your place in Heaven for $70 or $80. Then you value your place in Heaven very cheaply, for I am sure you can with the offer I make you get the seventy or eighty dollars for four or five months' work. You say if I furnish you the money you will deed me the land, and if you don't pay the money back, you will deliver possession--Nonsense! If you can't now live _with_ the land, how will you then live without it? You have always been kind to me, and I do not now mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, if you will but follow my advice, you will find it worth more than eight times eighty dollars to you.
Affectionately your brother,

Governments must create policies that promote achievement and self reliance rather than societal destruction. Maybe we could listen to President Lincoln’s wisdom once more.

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