By: Kevin Joseph – Senior, Entrepreneurship
People have responsibility. Now that might sound obvious, but this is a fundamental principle to preserving liberty. It’s not, and never has been the government’s responsibly to care for the people. As mentioned in my previous article: the welfare state is alive and real. That is why power must be returned to the states. It’s in neighborhoods and communities where school service programs are helping the less fortunate. It’s businessmen and families donating to charities. The war on poverty ends when the government stops trying to win. Let the people fight this battle. Let families care for their neighbors. Don’t force them upon this task for it helps no one. Let this be understood by the following example from filmmaker Dinesh D’souza:
You and I are on a long hike in the woods. We have been hiking for quite sometime now and we determine to take a break. I sit down and decide to enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I made, packed, and paid for with my own money. You don’t have a sandwich so you ask for half of mine and I give it to you. This is a moral transaction. As a result, I feel good about myself. I gave a member of my community something they needed and I know exactly whom I helped. I would gladly do it again. You also feel good. You feel a sense of obligation and want to pay it back. This is how the war on poverty is won – people willingly helping people.
Now let’s look at the same situation but instead of me giving you my sandwich, some government bureaucrat comes running over, holds a gun to my head and says give that man your sandwich. The outcome is the exact same. You have my sandwich. However the moral action behind it is gone, the government has stripped the value out of this action. I deserve no more acknowledgement because I did not give it away willingly, you feel no gratitude for receiving the sandwich, but rather you feel entitled to more sandwiches instead of just one.
It’s important to note that the notion of believing that someone who has never been poor can’t help the poor is misguided. One’s economic status is irrelevant.
The United States is one of the most generous countries in the world. Since our founding we have taken care of others. We have established private charities, comforted the homeless, and offered a hand to the mentally and physically disabled. The federal government has no responsibility on this matter. In fact, they have created an unhealthy relationship with the less fortunate and the rich, known as the redistribution of wealth. The war on poverty is not the government’s fight. The moral, caring individuals that are the people of the United States are the only ones who can win it. We need to return the power to the people and see the difference one can make.
Look no further than our school, The University of Dayton. It is here at our university that students, not government, are winning the war on poverty. It is the idea that a nationally ranked catholic university is changing how our community interacts with our neighbors that gives others hope. Simply put, the University of Dayton is a soldier for the poor because of the individuals that make up the community. Ask not what others can do for you, ask what you can do for others.