An old Chinese Proverb reads, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
This proverb is well known by just about everybody, and I’m sure it has been used to relate to many situations. To me, this wise proverb best relates to our country’s welfare system. Give a person some necessities, and that person will be happy for a day. Teach a person how to obtain those necessities through hard work and perseverance, and that person will be happy for a lifetime.
Before we continue on, let me set one thing straight. Welfare can be a very good thing for some people. Unfortunately we cannot control everything around us, and some circumstances may arise where one needs some help. I have absolutely zero problem with that. I’m a charitable person, and I believe that most Americans are charitable and want to help others. However, I do believe that problems arise when you take from people the incentive to work. That is when we get into scary territory. My church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints employs a powerful welfare program where those who need help can receive the basics of what they are needing, food and clothing, while at the same time returning service to the church and working to getting back on their own two feet.
The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Yes, we are endowed with certain rights, but notice that it doesn’t read ‘Life, Liberty and Happiness.’ Rather, we are entitled (yes I just dropped the ‘E’ word, gasp!) to the pursuit of happiness. I believe that our current form of welfare in this country has turned its focus too much on trying to give out happiness rather than focusing on helping others to pursue it for themselves.
“Welfare without work creates negative incentives that lead to permanent poverty. It robs people of self-esteem.” — Mitt Romney
The way the government can help others in the pursuit of happiness and in turn better the welfare system is by encouraging work. Learning to work and knowing what it feels like to take pride in a job well done are priceless. Sadly, we are seeing those who govern us “drop the ball” so to speak, when it comes to promoting work. Last July, the Obama Administration declared that states no longer were required to abide by welfare’s work standards, thus giving fish rather than teaching to fish.
Some argue that the government needs to level the playing field for everyone so that it is fair. This is not true. By trying to level out everything in life, a government only makes things more unfair. The government should not be held responsible for providing us with housing, cell phones, insurance, vehicles, etc. Those things are not their duty, they are ours. As soon as the majority of the population discovers that it can receive for no price certain things, that majority will vote over and over again to put in office the candidate that promises to give the most. I fear that we are becoming that type of society.
What are your views on the current state of welfare? What are your thoughts on the importance of work in a society? Let me know what you think, and remember that the way we can have an influence on society starts within ourselves, then our families, then our communities.
Thanks for reading-
For more information on the LDS Church welfare system:
For more information on welfare reform enacted by the Obama Administration:
Also, a HUGE thank you to my wife Heather for today’s idea!