So I just finished reading another article by the liberal press that attempts to use science to forward the leftist and socialist agenda. In this study, scientists attempt to demonstrate that “bad decisions don’t cause poverty, poverty causes bad decisions”. The conclusion drawn from this study is that we should give poor people money without any kind of condition because this is the only way to fight poverty. Honestly, part of the strategy involved here must be Orwellian. Repeat a series of lies often enough and they will become accepted fact because those who understand the lie will eventually get tired of fighting it and those who do not understand the lie will eventually just accept it.
So the first question I want to ask is, what is a bad decision if it is not one that perpetuates a cycle of poverty? Why is it wrong to “blow five bucks at Wendy’s” that you do not have if the habit of spending five dollars that you do not have ensures that you will never have anything more than five dollars in your pocket? If bad spending decisions do not cause poverty, what makes them bad spending decisions? Is there any such thing as a bad spending decision?
These questions illustrate the fundamental problem with the kind of limited and simplistic thinking that ignores basic questions. As is obvious to anyone who has considered the problem for even a brief period, poverty is a cycle and it is going to be extremely difficult for people who have no money and are living hand-to-mouth to accumulate the skills and/or the resources that will allow them to escape this existence. The more important questions arise after acknowledging the self-reinforcing nature of many negative situations. If poverty causes poverty, how has any society ever become wealthy? What is the secret sauce that makes people or nations successful?
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
The whole problem with the, “I am not going to blow five dollars at Wendy’s so I can save up and buy something else” paradigm is that the focus is on the material well-being of the individual. The attitude that, “I am not spending this 5 bucks at Wendy’s so I can save the money and go to school and then I will be able to get a job and then I will be able to make 5 bucks so I can blow the money at Wendy’s” is entirely flawed. What happens if someone steals your five bucks? What if the economy is bad and you cannot get a job? We have all heard stories of the man who finally reaches retirement age and gets hit by a bus. What happens if you never catch the rainbow you are chasing? “This short term sacrifice is not worth making and I should just enjoy the moment.” is the obvious conclusion that must result from a mindset that has material benefit as its ultimate goal. The only way to break the cycle of poverty is to make something else your goal that has the long term benefit as a byproduct.
Alcoholics Anonymous has the most successful program to help people overcome the difficulties of alcoholism in the United States. It does not teach you to give up alcohol so you can eventually drink more alcohol, it takes people who have already accepted the fact that living a sober life is better than living the life of an alcoholic and encourages them to believe that such a life is possible if they will work hard and trust in their higher power to help them through the hard times. The goal is the sober life that allows one to have fulfilling relationships and be a productive member of society, not an alcohol soaked vacation that you can afford if you lay off the sauce for a few years.
This same truth is illustrated on a societal scale by the success of the United States. The U.S. economy has been fueled by generations of immigrants who made enormous sacrifices not so that they could live in a big mansion but so that their children would have the opportunities that they never had. In their struggle to improve the lives of the next generation, it didn’t make any difference to them if they could realize the same benefit now as opposed to later by blowing five bucks at Wendy’s. The point was that their children wouldn’t realize any benefit for seeking immediate gratification and this was enough to motivate them to make the sacrifice. As a side benefit, the country as a whole became wealthy and their lives improved as a result. “Seek ye first . . . and all these things shall be added.”
The United States is an apostate nation which has abandoned the principles that made us wealthy and successful. As the spoiled generation which was the beneficiary of generations of sacrifice examines the wealthy society they inherited, they come to simplistic and amoral conclusions. “Hard work and sacrifice aren’t essential for success in life”, they think to themselves, “Really the only way to have any kind of success is to have money given to you on a silver platter”. While this is a natural attitude for people who have inherited the most wealthy and successful society in human history to have, these attitudes must ultimately destroy that success and squander that wealth. With the U. S. having printed ten trillion dollars over the last few years, this process is almost complete and we will very soon need to relearn the fundamental lessons of morality that made this country great.