July 18, 2024

Deserving Welfare

Michelle Malkin wonders, “Who deserves government-subsidized health care?

That’s a good question.  The short answer, which many of us would agree on, is this:  only those who cannot provide for their own basic health care.  “Cannot” is one of the key words in that proviso; “basic” is another.

The devil is in the details, or the definition of those words.

Consider the key word in Michelle’s question.  “Deserve” has many connotations in modern use, many of them inappropriate.  The reality is that to deserve something is to have earned it. 

deserve – to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward, assistance, punishment, etc.) because of actions, qualities, or situation: to deserve exile; to deserve charity; a theory that deserves consideration.

By that standard only people who produce “deserve” government subsidies.  Logically this is true considering the government’s “revenue” is actually wealth confiscated from those who created it.

(And what is money?  A product of time and the usefulness of that time.  An approximation of what men understand to be the value of life, in other words.)

Yet most Americans do want to help the truly needy, so let’s pursue that goal.  To do so we must dispense with the use of the word deserve and consider others instead:

gift – something given voluntarily without payment in return; or, something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned

charity – generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless

Government subsidies don’t really meet the standard of those words either since voluntary generosity has nothing to do with taxation.  Government actions, as I was recently reminded, have nothing to do with consent, altruism, or love. 

In fact I was told that the very idea of voluntary giving is a relic of an age past and is hated by those who prefer to substitute legal directives as a means of providing for the poor.  For them it is about force and using it to do what they think is right.

By taking charity off the table we must turn to two words that, devoid as they are of any personal emotion, liberals have made their own:

need  – a condition marked by the lack of something requisite; or, a lack of something wanted or deemed necessary

welfare – financial or other assistance to an individual or family from a city, state, or national government

Deserve, gift, and charity are out; needs and welfare are in.  But you knew that already.  The politics of entitlement have made that plain for decades.

To paraphrase Michelle, who needs health care welfare? 

Earlier I said government health assistance should only be provided to those who cannot provide basic care for themselves.  This rule still seems to hold given the discussion thus far.

The correct definition of need is something that is required, not something desired – two entirely different things. 

We need to be clear about our words, though.  When we say that a person “cannot” provide for themselves we are only being truthful if that person is actually unable to do so.  If providing for his/her own living is merely unpleasant, undesirable, or inconvenient to a person, that is not the same thing, is it?

Principle:  The government ought not compel us to surrender our earnings to those who are unwilling to work for their own. 

Still, we’re told that we must provide for the poor (so long as we do not rely on medieval charity to do so).  If we accept this, the intersection of these statements that we should provide welfare for those who cannot earn it while ignoring whose who can and refuse to do so. 

Further, those who pay for welfare services should not be compelled to provide more than is truly needed.  Need is that which is required – not what is desired – and this informs us as to the standard that government should strive for when contriving to perform charity.

“But the poor deserve the same health care as the well-to-do!”  Do they?  To deserve something is to have earned it.  Try a different word. 

“Then the poor need the same health care as the well-to-do.”  Closer, yet still not right.

Someone very close to me recently said, “No one in America should die because they didn’t have access to health care.” 

Sadly, this is untrue – God knows that we’re all dying; all our health care efforts do is alter the time of our passing.

Does that mean that we shouldn’t provide health care to the poor?  No, but as a nation we are not obligated to do so.  Our obligation to love is at a personal level.  That we do provide services for the poor is because of our generosity – whether government expansionists approve of the word or not – and of our love. 

The real question is: Whose money are we willing to love the poor with, other peoples’ or our own?  The difference between a program of government taxation and distribution and personal charity is simply who is paying.  The choices are:

  1. Those who produce wealth
  2. Those who care enough to give to the needy

Champions of the former usually advocate their cause by claiming that the well-to-do have resources to spare, that they don’t need the money they earn.  The “rich” are, from this perspective, morally obligated to do their part for the common good.

(It’s an interesting line of thinking coming as it does from a group that spends a lot of time claiming that government can’t legislate morality.  But the contradiction is lost on them.)

This logic says that the people who produce wealth must provide for those that do not; otherwise they are bad people.  Yet there is no virtue in the modern system of tax-and-distribute, for neither the gladness of giving nor the thankfulness of receiving can exist in it.  There is only the resentment of the robbed and the hatred of those who are given an unwarranted largesse and fear its being snatched away again.

The penultimate irony is that, like a clock that’s correct twice a day, the statists are right – we are obligated to care for our brothers. 

But their conclusion, devoid as it is of the spiritual, is right for all the wrong reasons.  The result is that the soulless generosity they disburse so freely results only in bankruptcy – moral bankruptcy for the recipients and economic bankruptcy for the ones they tax.

Government welfare can aid bodies but it can never cure souls; instead it kills them.  Those who disagree would do well to consider the history of these programs and their results.

The answer, Michelle, is no one who has any choice should be subjected to either side of the welfare system.  Those who must use it should, without guilt or shame, but never lightly and only after exhausting all of their capabilities and the generosity of their true neighbors.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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