May 24, 2011

The lie of small government policies

Is that government programs are unnecessary and can simply be replaced by churches and private charities. As idiot preacher Franklin Graham says:
"Graham replied: 'A hundred years ago, the safety net, the social safety net, in the country, was provided by the church. If you didn't have a job, you'd go to your local church and ask the pastor if he knew somebody that could hire him. If you were hungry, you went to the local church and told them, 'I can't feed my family.' And the church would help you. That's not being done. The government took that. And took it away from the church.'"
He is partially right. There was no social safety net 100 years ago beyond private charities and churches. But this belief that the past was some kind of idyllic past, is just ridiculous. Yes, churches were the last resort, but no, they didn't actually carry all the poor. Elderly without families ended up in almshouses where they were often abused and abandoned.

From the right there seems to be this perception that things were great until the 30s, and then FDR, as an evil socialist, came in and told the churches to stop helping people in order to make them dependent on the government. The fact was that poverty was a huge problem before, but the depression made it worse. And the churches and charities that were not taking care of the poor (not saying they weren't trying) found themselves completely overwhelmed by the depression.

I have said this before, but I love this essay's challenge. Tell the church to step up and provide the safety net, and we will disband Medicaid today. They won't, because they can't. And they have no idea what Medicaid actually does--and that it probably helps someone close to them and they don't even know it.

The right is driven by two approaches on this problem right now. The Ayn Rand branch that really doesn't care about the poor and is proud of that fact; and those who care, but are deluded about the role that government plays. Which is it? Ignorant or callous?


steves said...

You raise a good point. My church is pretty small (attendance is about 120 a week) and we are overwhelmed with requests for food, help with bills, transportation, and housing. If a small church is getting bombarded with requests as much as we are, then I can't imagine what is happening at larger churches.

I think churches (and numerous other charities) help out where they can, but there is still a need. If you just look at medical bills, charities only scratch the surface. There is just no way that they can adequately provide a safety net. I'm sure they could in the past, but medical costs have grown to the point where that is impossible now.

Streak said...

Yeah, I don't doubt, nor would I ever diminish the work that individuals and charities make to help the needy. Those are all good things. But the costs are too massive. Our shared approach is better than cutting all of this loose. And I think if the average American understood how much of their tax money went to good programs, all of this might change a little. As it is, they think their money goes only to unworthy or is wasted in overhead or corruption.