Government Programs to Help the Poor: Good or Bad?

Seven simple truths to show that government programs to help the poor are denying truths of God’s word and basic logic.

Truth #1: We will never get rid of poverty.

“For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.” – Mark 14:7

If Jesus said we will always have the poor, you can take that to the bank. The reason we will is because sin will be here as long as this earth remains.

But, the existence of sin and poverty does not excuse men from their responsibility.

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” – Proverbs 3:27-28

Truth #2: The Spirit of Christ which dwells within his children will compel them to be charitable to their fellow man.

“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.” – Proverbs 21:25-26

Some people will argue that we need government programs, because they wonder who would care for the poor without such programs. The answer is that *God’s children* would care for them!

The fact is that some of us want government programs because many of us are lazy. It is easier on ourselves to rely on government to do our charity work than to do it ourselves as God has commanded us.

Truth #3: God will protect and help the poor, even if men do not.

“Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.” – Proverbs 22:22-23

“He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.” – Proverbs 22:16

God sees all and knows all. He will deal with the oppression of the poor when it occurs. The answer does not lie with government.

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” – Proverbs 15:3

Truth #4: Once you start a government program, it’s hard to get rid of it.

“No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!” – Ronald Reagan

The simple answer to this problem is to *never* initiate government programs which are intended to force citizens to be charitable. This brings us to Truth #5.

Truth #5: Individuals should be free to give as God’s Spirit leads them rather than being forced to give.

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” – II Corinthians 9:7

This scripture plainly says that charity should not be forced upon us, and instead individuals should give freely as their conscience dictates.

Truth #6: Grace will always out perform law.

Laws created to force charity by taxing the citizens and redistributing that money to others will always do less for the poor than when people give directly to their neighbors out of the goodness of their hearts.

Did you ever notice the number of times scripture references the term “neighbor” and how that is someone to whom we’re supposed to be kind and charitable? Charity should start in our own homes and then spread to our local neighbors. God knows the needs of those with whom we come in contact; he will direct us through his Spirit to know when to give and how much to give, if only we will listen. By us following the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the poor will always be in a better condition than when helped indirectly by government tax-and-redistribute programs.

Truth #7: There has never been a more effective and efficient system for reducing poverty than the free market system and free enterprise.

The primary reason that Truth #7 holds true is that in a free market system, God’s children are free to exercise Truths #5 and #6.

Naysayers will tell us that the government has a responsibility to help the poorer among us. However, the truth is that government doesn’t have responsibility; *people* have responsibility. Government without people is nothing more than buildings, papers, desks, and empty chairs. Our government is of the people, for the people, and by the people. The question is, how can we as *people* exercise our responsibility to our fellow man most effectively? Through government, or as individuals?

As we saw in Truth #6, charity on an individual level is much more effective than forced charity. One reason for this is that there are overhead costs in charity through government. For the government to run a program to help the poor, we have to pay the people who run that program. Our federal government and state governments have so many programs that thousands and thousands of people are employed by those programs. This results in the waste of millions of taxpayer dollars.

The dollars to run government programs come right out of our pockets and could be used to help more people. And while some will argue that eliminating these government programs would result in lost jobs for those involved in that industry, the truth is that the free market would adjust and there would be jobs for those people. The dollars that are wasted through overhead in our current system would still be in circulation and could be spent to employ such individuals in a more productive industry.

I leave us with one final quote from the late, great economist, Milton Friedman: “A society that aims for equality [of outcome] before liberty will wind up with neither equality nor liberty. And a society that aims first for liberty will not end up with equality [of outcome], but it will end up with a closer approach to equality than any other kind of system that has ever been developed.”

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