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Are Social Services The Responsibility of The Government?

A sick old man walking down the street on crutches

Stock Media Courtesy of Pond5

It has never ceased to amaze me that in a country as rich, advanced and powerful as America, a country which believes so strongly that it’s rules and beliefs are the best that it tries to impose them on other nations, can have:

In fact, apparently, there is no city or county in America where a worker earning minimum wage can afford a one bedroom, fair market, apartment.

These figures are very sobering, particularly at this time of year when many or even most of us eat and drink in excess, spend outrageous sums of money on unnecessary presents and generally over-indulge ourselves.

The question of what to do about it though is difficult.

You see, America is a democratic, capitalist republic. It is a land where many find that through hard work and dedication, you can carve out for yourself a little piece of the American dream.

It is a nation designed to have a government that is not there to control people’s lives but to enable them to pursue happiness and prosperity.

Take from the Rich and Give to the Poor

To many here in America, taxes are unconstitutional. The idea that the government can impose taxation on the people and make them give up some of their hard earned cash flies in the face of what America is all about.

Indeed, whenever the prospect of tax increases to help pay for social security and free healthcare for those who need it rears its ugly head, most of us complain. After all, why should I give the government more of the money I work so hard for just so it can give it to people who don’t work as hard as me?

There is a conundrum here because a nation as civilized and forward as this surely shouldn’t have millions of people starving in it and dying for lack of health care, yet for the government to take money from the ‘rich’ to give to the poor smacks of socialism or even communism – two things which capitalistic freedom is opposed to.

There are many reasons why someone would need help, but the question remains… is it the government’s responsibility.

If it IS, then America needs to become more socialist because it simply cannot afford for the rich to get richer whilst the poor get poorer. Even now, many cities are reminiscent of cities in third world countries where the rich live like kings and the poor are literally starving to death on the streets.

Not Their Job

I truly believe that helping the poor is NOT the responsibility of the government, it is the collective responsibility of the people – and as Christians, we are even Biblically mandated to take responsibility for it.

There are numerous passages in the bible which I could quote, but the best is probably Jesus’ summary in Matthew 7:12:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

It’s perfect.

If you became homeless and you couldn’t feed your kids or buy them clothes to wear, what would you hope that other people would do?

Would you hope that someone would give you a helping hand?

Would you hope that even just one of the rich people you see throwing away half-eaten dinners every day would at least give you twenty cents to buy some Ramen noodles to eat?

I think you would… which means that you need to look again at Matthew 7:12 and ask yourself what that means you need to do with the relative wealth that you have?

So my question is… do you do to others what you would have them do to you?

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Written By: PeterP
On: December 14th, 2011
See More In: Faith
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3 Responses to Are Social Services The Responsibility of The Government?

  1. David Rupert wrote:

    Peter

    I do know that our standards are much higher than they were a generation ago. The truly poor — without adequate housing or food — are really minuscule. The government equation for identifying the poor is continually ratcheting up.

    What I do agree is that our lower tier jobs don’t pay enough to even live simply.

    • PeterP wrote:

      David,

      Part of what inspired me to write this post is an article I read yesterday about people in Alabama who might lose their water supply: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16037798

      It really intrigues me that it’s seen as terrible that people have to use a porta-potty, which gets cleaned out regularly for them instead of an indoor toilet.

      You’re right that what is considered ‘essential’ has changed significantly over the past few decades and that those in true poverty are less in number than the official figures suggest, but the question still remains, what are we doing about it?

  2. I truly believe too that helping the poor is not the responsibility of the government but that of a people who claim to be children of a God who “raises the poor from the dust, the needy from the dung hill”, who claim to follow a man whose manifesto began with “The Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor.”

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