ERRANT LIFESTYLES: Supporting Those Who Won’t Support Themselves

Written by GR Bud West on February 2, 2015

I guess the part that I resent most about income redistribution, includes how families who “don’t make enough money, “ can end up with about $50,000 per year in government subsidies. Some of that’s paid for with long term debt and some with tax revenues. Some of those tax revenues are paid for by people working three jobs and earning $52,000 per year. Those may not represent the actual numbers, but they’re close and in either case, you get my drift.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe that we, as a country, should let our fellow citizens who live in gross poverty go hungry or homeless. Neither did Milton Friedman. However, neither do I believe that taxpayers should be on the hook to provide ongoing, lifestyle support for individuals and families who refuse to change their mindsets and thereby quit making the same types of mistakes, over and over.

Of course, some of that happens because the initial mistakes that impoverished people make, happen when they’re young. This can sometimes burden them in ways that make ascending out of poverty significantly more challenging than if they were to make better early decisions. This includes everything from refusing to study; to getting pregnant without resources; to developing attitudes of rationalization instead of responsibility.

Some don’t study because they feel that it won’t do them any good. They look around at their neighbors who study and they conclude that the cost isn’t worth the investment. They see that some of those who study wind up no better off than those who don’t. They see that others who study do so at the cost of their social lives. Still others end up being ostracized to varying degrees.

Some get pregnant early. This doesn’t happen to the poor alone. Families in the “upper” and “middle” classes face that challenge, as well. However, for the poor, it often becomes a community challenge. Poor teens often come to rely on welfare to support their children. Some of them figure that they can make more money from government support than they could ever make from minimum wage jobs. They’re also dumbed down to believe that welfare and getting a job represent their only two choices — if they decide to keep their babies in the first place.

Many of the people in both of these groups (welfare and working poor) started out in poverty. It appears that some of their families rationalize that it’s ok to tap the government for cash, in any way possible. They go as far as rationalizing that it’s even okay to extort tax revenues to support “midnight basketball leagues” and all-night recreation centers, specifically to keep neighborhood teens from running up and down the streets, getting into mischief and mayhem.

It’s strange though, because many of families that ascribe to responsibility, rather than rationalization, seem to not have the problem of having to rationalize excuses for their children’s errant behavior. If they desire to build recreation facilities, they look for private funding or for other ways that they, themselves, can make things happen; rather than looking to “the government” as the first solution for self-created problems.

I lived in poverty and I moved into the “middle class.” Although it was tough for me, it was probably not as tough for me as it was for some others. However, I’m convinced that if I can do it, anyone can. I had to do some things that, at the time, I really didn’t entirely want to do. I dropped out of high school to enroll in junior college. Because of low funds, I quit college before earning my BS, and I joined the Navy. I worked hard to earn a couple of degrees while serving, so I could take advantage of the reduced costs. When I left the Navy, I had my choice between some good paying jobs.

This might not work for everyone, but other avenues exist for those who would choose responsibility over rationalization… Ultimately, however, I’d just really like it if our elected officials would ask this question, before funding any and every bill: “how fair is it to collect taxes from the family who makes $52,000, in order to pay for this product or service.”



GR Bud West
G. R. Bud West serves as a Professor of Leadership and Management at a leading, Christian university; and as a Principal Program Management Specialist in an international training and development company. He holds a PhD in Organizational Leadership and spends quite a bit of time thinking and writing about leadership, social power, and liberty, from a Biblical worldview perspective. He lives “on the road” in the United States of America, with his beautiful home-schooling wife and four sons. Find him on Twitter: @BudWest and on the web at: