Republicans Aren’t Stingy—They Just Believe in Self-Sufficiency and Human Dignity

August 14, 2018

When Republicans call for a decrease in government welfare, the Left yells that we must hate poor people. Case in point, President Trump recently signed an Executive Order that called for increased work requirements for those on welfare, and the Left called it “punishing the poor.” According to some, the Trump Administration is done waging the War on Poverty and is instead waging the “War on Poor People.” Contrary to such flamboyant rhetoric, Republicans are not trying to punish poor people — they’re trying to clear a path to self – sufficiency and build local community.

To promote self – sufficiency, President Trump’s Executive Order (EO) calls for agencies to better enforce the work requirements for welfare eligibility and introduce new work requirements for non – cash programs like food stamps and Medicaid. His plan is similar to one enacted by the Clinton Administration in the 1990s.

After the media outcry over Trump’s EO, the White House released a statement last week saying, “Expecting non – disabled working – age adults to work shouldn’t be controversial.”

Good point. But to be fair to the other side, the controversy is not over expecting healthy adults to work. What the Left is really saying is that there’s not enough opportunities for the poor to get a stable job, so it’s unfair to expect the poor to have a job in order to receive essential needs like food. Plus, the Left is upset over welfare funding being reduced, because they claim the poor are indeed working, but their job doesn’t pay a living wage. So, according to the Left, the issue is not that people are lazy and need motivation to work: the issue is that the poor cannot get work, especially if they’re uneducated and unskilled, discriminated against, don’t have access to affordable child care, etcetera.

However, if the Left would’ve actually read the EO instead of outrageously claiming that Republicans are demonizing the poor, they would’ve seen that the EO acknowledges their concerns. It states the government needs to provide opportunities for work and invest in programs that effectively move people into the workforce and out of poverty. It admits that there’s some populations that particularly struggle to find and maintain employment, and that challenge will need to be addressed in any proposed plan. The EO calls for an investment in programs that equip people with necessary skills for employment.

Perhaps one of the best features of the EO is its call to promote “strong social networks as a way of sustainably escaping poverty…” and to empower “the private sector, as well as local communities, to develop and apply locally based soluti ons to poverty.” Wait — wasn’t the point of the EO to promote self – sufficiency? Yes, but self – sufficiency does not rule out getting help from your social network. Self – sufficiency does not equal isolation. As Genesis 2 says, it’s not good for someone to be alone. We need strong social bonds and community commitments — life is not a Do – It – Yourself project. There’s nothing wrong with humbling yourself and reaching out to your neighbors for help, and then helping them when their crisis comes. Small communities ca n fulfill Christ’s command to “Give to the one who begs from you.” When you reach out for help to your neighbor, that doesn’t give them power over you.

In contrast, wh en you reach out to government for help, it must create a new program and hire more bureaucrats, which expands its power over you. That’s the problem: over – reliance on government, which gives it access to run your life. And they run your life without ever needing to know your name, face, and personal challenges.

One of the most cruel consequences of government welfare is people becoming isolated and alone. We’ve seen people on welfare who hardly ever leave their home. Their check comes in the mail from a faceless bureaucrat, and they never have to engage with the outside world. It’s d evastating to see — they are lonely, depressed, and purposeless. Work helps put people in community. Work is a way of serving our neighbor, and it enhances human dignity and self – confidence. Work is not a punishment. After all, work existed before the Fall: God told Adam and Eve to work to subdue and fill the earth. Yes, work became “thorny” after Adam and Eve disobeyed (God told Adam the ground would be filled with thorns and thistles), but work in and of itself was not a punishment — it’s part of the created order of things.

So, when Republicans want increased work requirements for the poor, it’s not because we want to punish or demonize the poor. It’s because we believe work is a good thing, and we want to see people thriving in community, being self – sufficient, and living with dignified purpose.

In Service,

Colorado Citizens Coalition

Gary Gates started the non-profit Colorado Citizens Coalition because he has a passion for individual liberty and preserving the Constitution, and it’s a fight he’s engaged in with every facet of his life. He believes a coalition is needed because it takes all of us being actively involved to move our state and country forward. We as citizens must stay informed because We the People are in charge and must hold government accountable. Gary desires to provide Colorado citizens a free resource to get useful information about state government from a conservative perspective.

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