The Corner

God Wants Welfare (and More Debt)?

Jim Wallis says yes. According to him, no one has been looking out for the poor in Washington:

But the religious community is changing this: It formed “A Circle of Protection” to defend the most effective anti-poverty efforts both at home and around the world. Today, Sojourners has a full-page ad in Politicowith the message “God Is Watching” as a part of our series of print ads on the budget. This week our radio ads, recorded by local pastors, are playing in Nevada, Kentucky, and Ohio to remind politicians of the moral issues at stake. Faith leaders say God is biased in such matters, and prefers to protect the poor instead of the rich, and instructs the faithful to do the same. This is class warfare now, and when it breaks out, the Bible suggests that God is on the side of defending the poor from assault.

After literally decades of failed social policies — policies that have helped create a permanent underclass, fostered a dependent spirit in millions of citizens, and helped explode the illegitimacy rate (all for the low, low price of several trillion dollars) — it would be tempting to roll our eyes at Wallis’s christianized socialism. Unfortunately, however, the evangelical progressive Left is gaining ground in American Christianity. Thus, columns like Wallis’s demand a response.

First, it is now crystal clear that more social spending does not mean less poverty. As the chart below shows, serious progress in reducing the poverty rate was made before the War on Poverty commenced. Since then, while social spending always rises, the poverty rate does not always decrease and instead bounces around in much the same way as the business cycle.

Second, while this video has been linked on the Corner before, it really should be shown every week.  Simply put, socialism doesn’t lead to prosperity.  Freedom does:

Finally, much of the Left’s argument is often built around a baseless assumption that cuts (or even decreases in the rate of increase) in social programs will create a void that nothing will fill. In reality, the choice is not between Medicare and death or food stamps and starvation. Families (even broken families), friends, churches, and secular charities can and will step in with care that is more efficient, more effective, and more lovingly delivered than that provided by even the most well-intentioned bureaucracy.  

Even if “Cut, Cap, and Balance” had passed, hundreds of billions of dollars would still flow towards the poor and elderly in our country. We cannot let the bureaucracy replace our own charity, and we have to remind ourselves — and the church — that the greatness of our hearts is not measured by the size of our government.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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