Sunday, March 21, 2010

Poverty.. America... Welfare

Growing up in America, we are told that we earn what we get, and that is the only way we will succeed. Common sayings such as “Life isn’t fair” and “That’s not luck, it’s hard work” fuel the need for each generation to work harder and strive to build a better life than our parents, neighbors, friends etc. had. Everyone wants to be successful and everyone wants to be able to live comfortably. The exceptions to this statement are people that are hooked on hardcore drugs or are searching for a “more meaningful” spiritual solution. Let’s ignore those exceptions for a moment and look at the kind of attitude America has set up for us.

Capitalism drives most adults to gain as much as they can as fast as they can. We live in a competitive country and for many it seems that if one can’t be successful, he won’t be respected. However, not all millionaires and great companies are the result of abnormally handwork. Likewise, not all poverty stricken families are poor because they don’t work hard.

The problem is, how is it possible to tell the difference between who deserves to be successful and who doesn’t? It’s not.

Handing out money to beggars on the street isn’t a good idea; it’s reckless and sometimes does more harm than good. Alex McCandless used to hand out sandwiches to the homeless in his city and I have had friends who have done similar things with food stamps, clothing and toys. People who have money are reckless with it; people who are not used to the responsibility can be even more so.

This is not to say that the general low-income population is reckless, just that there is large enough portion that is that screws the actual responsible people over.

As for welfare, I don’t agree with it. Helping through actual volunteer work and service can do more good than donating money to starving kids in Africa ever could. If $2000 built a school in Haiti, for example, how helpful would that be if there were no teachers?

Poverty could be potentially eradicated through philanthropy but the moral sense of humans is too dormant in today’s age to give what it takes to fix this problem.

I rarely donate money to charity or organizations but I definitely donate my time. I have worked in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, taught and supplied children and worked with many organizations working against diseases. I spent hours 5 am to 12 am volunteering downtown today and I work weekly at a church.

That being said, I will repeat again that I strongly dislike welfare. It puts the wrong idea into people’s heads that all problems can be solved monetarily from a distance. The upper and middle class look down on the lower class and believe that the government will take care of it. These are the same people that view every sunken-faced man on the street as a heroin junkie and every woman as a prostitute. 

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