How Do We Do Social Justice? (VIII)
My good friend Bob Boyd sent me a classic example of how perpetual welfare recipients know how to milk the system. In actuality, it was an article carried by the Times-Picayune of New Orleans. The article (“Welfare Ain’t What It Used to Be”) chronicles a woman named Sharon Jasper, who is convinced that she has been victimized; rabidly wronged. She endured hurricane Katrina, which, of course, was not only Bush’s fault, but he actually had his lieutenants pack C4 into the winds and rain to make the hurricane far worse than it naturally was. In other words, Katrina, was a government conspiracy. While the winds blew and the C4 exploded, Bush, Cheney, and Halliburton were siphoning off oil from Iraq instead of searching for bin Laden. No wonder Code Pink wants the Marines out of Berkeley; they were complicit as well. You just can’t trust the Marines. After all, what have they ever done for our country? This article is a snapshot of precisely what is wrong with our welfare system. I’m not suggesting that every recipient of welfare horrifically abuses the system, but this is part and parcel of the problem.
Before I get into the contents of the article, I want to make a few preliminary comments. It has been somewhat surprising to me that the media spent so little time on what the Democrat governor of Louisiana and Mayor of New Orleans didn’t do. Immediately, the focus went to the federal level and the state and local officials got a free pass. Such is the nature of the media these days. No bias there! Second, it also surprised me that so few pastors said anything about what happened. It seems that Amos 3:6 is no longer in Scripture or is no longer taken seriously (“Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?”). After all, if God is only a God of love, then how can we involve him in any natural disasters? It seems that Geico, State Farm, Allstate, and USAA are about the only ones still willing to speak of such events as “acts of God.” Evangelicals shy away from that type of thing. Nevertheless, Amos is worthy of our consideration, since it is part of the canon of the Bible.
But now to the point: Ms. Jasper’s particular problem has to do with being moved out of government housing, better known as Section 8. According to the article, she has spent 57 of her 58 years in Section 8 housing. Ms. Jasper has passed this “legacy” along to her children as well—the sins of the fathers and mothers. She worries that her kids might actually have to pay for their own utilities in government housing or even pony up something that looks like a deposit.
Does all this mean that Ms. Jasper has never worked? No, not quite. She took a one year hiatus from feeding at the trough and tried gainful employment. It was a painful experience. Here are the precise words from Ms. Jasper’s mouth: “I tried it for a year. You know, working and all. It’s not anything I would want to go through again, or wish on any one in my family, but I am d*** proud of that year.” Someone ought to have given her a plaque for commendable service. Imagine. One whole year. I mean, we’re not talking any shabby 6-8 month stint here, but one whole year, which, by the way, was sufficiently rigorous to convince Ms. Jasper that she wouldn’t wish that type of life on any of her children. One can only imagine that they wholeheartedly agree with mom.
The concept of victimhood was foisted upon Ms. Jasper by the same nanny-state government that provided her Section 8 housing—at U.S. taxpayer expense of course. Ms. Jasper lived in what was called the St. Bernard—it got the name because the government sent St. Bernards with casks of rum throughout the housing complex as a kind of welfare happy hour—that got wacked by the C4 in hurricane Katrina. The upshot was a horrible rant by Ms. Jasper because of the move. At a meeting about the proposed razing of the Section 8 rum factory, one young man suggested that the newer housing would be an improvement and that Ms. Jasper should be thankful that the U.S. taxpayer was footing the bill. She shot back at him, “Just because you pay for my house, my car, my big screen and my food, I will not be treated like a slave! Back up and shut up!” Ironically, Ms. Jasper didn’t realize that she already was a slave and had been for about 57 years.
Being the queen of the non sequitur, Ms. Jasper continued that many citizens of New Orleans had been displaced all over the United States due to the “Bush Hurricane Conspiracy” (my take on it!—RG) and that meant—and I am not making this up—“They are being forced to commit crimes in cities they are unfamiliar with. It is a very uncomfortable situation for them.” This must have been a very interesting meeting. It’s a tough life when you are forced to commit crimes in strange places. Forced? Who in the world is forcing them to be criminals? Well, we all know the answer to that one don’t we? It’s the super-rich who refuse to pay their fair share. Hmm. What might constitute a “fair share”? That’s a provocative question because currently the top 10% of taxpayers pay somewhere between 75-80% of the total tax bill. You can look it up for yourself. Over 50% of all United States taxpayers pay less than 20%. Folks like Ms. Jasper and her ilk pay very, very little (sales tax) or nothing.
But seriously, who is forcing people to commit crimes? There is always honest employment to pay bills. This, however, is the attitude among some. Ms. Jasper was also indignant about the quality of her new Section 8 housing. She stated that people shouldn’t be fooled by the nice hardwood floors. The government was only trying to do it on the cheap, which also explains her dismay at the lousy 60-inch HD TV in her Section 8 housing. Her comment: “It may look nice, but it is not a plasma.” Moreover, “Now they want me to pay a deposit on this dump.” It’s all very understandable, of course. Ms. Jasper has been treated shabbily in light of that one year of work. Sub-standard hardwood floors, a 60-inch HD TV that isn’t even plasma, and, to add insult to injury, they want a deposit for utilities.
Where does it all end? Ms. Jasper has a car, 60-inch HD TV, hardwood floors, food stamps, subsidized housing, welfare checks, and she has taught her children to be wards of the nanny state as well. The only thing we need to add to the list of goodies is universal health care, but Ms. Jasper is, no doubt, on subsidized health care as well. Out here in the Golden State we currently have a $14-20 billion deficit and the annual drain on the California taxpayer is $10 billion for all the illegal immigrants. All this manifests how out of touch our state and federal government is with mainstream Americans. The tax burden continues to rise precipitously and there is really nothing to show for it. The revenues are sufficient; it’s the expenditures that drain the budget and our elected representatives continue to spend, spend, spend.
Thankfully, not every recipient is like Ms. Jasper, but enough are. It is time for churches to step up to the plate with a comprehensive biblical plan to provide gainful employment in exchange for food or to train them to work for a living and not to stand at the trough waiting for a hardworking person to give them something for nothing.
Labels: Social Justice