For over twenty years my wife and I were the pastors of churches and leaders of ministries. Everywhere we ministered we founded programs to feed and clothe those who needed assistance. These ministries through the work of volunteers and the donations of private citizens fed and clothed thousands all without ever taking a dime of government money.
Back in the dream time when I was young in the ministry I helped start a feeding ministry. We fed so many needy people with groceries and had so many coming for hot meals it was astounding. We did no means testing. We fed everyone who came to the door all with volunteers and private donations.
Then came the Reagan food giveaway program and everything changed. If you don’t remember this it was a program started in 1983 by the Reagan administration. They opened the government warehouses and began giving away vast amounts of the American processed cheese, cheddar cheese, corn meal, non-fat dry milk and honey that was stored as part of the agricultural policy of buying up products to maintain prices. In the past this food was allowed to sit in these warehouses until it rotted and was thrown away. So instead of this wasteful procedure President Reagan wanted the food given to the needy.
When our feeding program was contacted by some state officials they said come and get all you want no strings attached. So we did. And we watched as our program grew and grew. The Federal Government of Ronald Reagan said no strings however in the spirit of his New Federalism he gave the food to the States to distribute to agencies and thus to the needy. This worked great……for a while.
Then the State wanted an accounting of how much we gave and to how many. That was fine. It was none intrusive so we compiled that and submitted it to the State. Then they wanted to know where the recipients of the food lived. That was fine. It was none intrusive so we compiled that and submitted it to the State. Then they wanted to know how much money the made and had. Then we quit the program. With this my first experience with founding and running a ministry to help others I learned a powerful lesson. Once the government camel gets its nose in the tent it wants to inch-by-inch take over. I vowed never again.
Every program to help the needy my wife and I ever started never means tested anyone. We never reported anything to anyone and we didn’t have to because everything was done by the churches and ministries we served and supported by volunteers and private donations. Many times we were asked about not means testing. People would ask, “Don’t you know some people are gaming the system?” We would answer, “Yes we’re sure there are some gaming the system but those who really need the help don’t need to be subjected to embarrassing questions. Let’s preserve their dignity while we help them keep body and soul together. If some are taking what they don’t really need and thus depriving others with real need that is on them.”
Why am I relating this bit of personal history? Not because I need a pat on the back. I have received more than enough recognition for merely doing what I felt the Lord showed me to do with the help and support of others. Pastors always get more than enough gratitude for things many are involved in. No, I’m sharing this to highlight the fact that much good can be done without government support and that the strings government support always drag along behind cause distortions, maladjustments, and inequalities in the services provided.
Why do I think such a lesson is needed at this time? The recent release of the President Trump’s first budget proposal signaled the desire of our Mr. Trump to return the Federal Government to its original purposes, national defense, international trade, and foreign relations. To do this many sacred cows were brought to the block.
Some of the cuts such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting aim to shut down what are obviously Progressive jobs programs part and parcel of the social engineering and propaganda arm of the Democrat Party.
However proposed cuts to other programs such as Meals on Wheels and Head Start are characterized as examples of the hard hearts of anyone who isn’t a Progressive.
This is what I want to draw attention to. This is the idea that it is the job of the Federal Government to feed and clothe its citizens. This is based on the idea that government can be compassionate. Progressives from both the Democrat and the Republican side of the government party say this is what’s needed for compassion’s sake when in reality it is what is needed for the sake of power. A Government is incapable of being compassionate. Compassion is a human emotion and a government is a bureaucratic organization that rules over a territory and a population. So-called government compassion merely establishes programs that choose who to help, who to ignore, and who to enrich. Mainly it is the bureaucrats administering the program and their favorite voting blocks.
A government cannot show compassion by giving of its own to help another. A government cannot expend one dollar on anyone that it has not appropriated from someone else. And once it has appropriated that dollar it syphons off a large percentage to cover administrative costs. It also requires paper work at every level as do all bureaucracies. Therefore instead of the compassion of you or me giving our own dollar to help someone, all of which goes to the other person government takes a dollar from someone and then gives a fraction of that dollar to someone else after making that person jump through hoops to get it.
That isn’t compassion. That is governmental over reach.
Progressives love the government approach. That way they don’t have to give anything personally and they don’t have to associate with those actually in need. Instead they can tax everyone else to pay for their personal hobby horse causes and then hire professional do gooders to do the distribution, all nice neat and out of the way.
All this taxation for governmental faux compassion drains away funds from individuals and private organizations who work selflessly to meet the needs of others. It also engenders a feeling among those taxed to pay for the Progressives pet programs that they gave at the office thus cutting into possible donations to private groups. This round robin effect of governmental interference in the instinctive compassion of the American people erodes the character of our people and curtails the amount of resources actually available for those in need.
Instead of the genuine satisfaction one feels from living out the reality that giving is better than receiving Americans are conditioned to think if they pay their taxes and wear the appropriate color ribbon they have done their duty to help make the world a better place.
The commands of government are enforced through the power of the state. The state can take your money and do what they think is best. The perpetually re-elected tell us constantly that they will bring the bacon home. When I ran for public office my favorite thing to tell voters was that, “I’m not running to bring the bacon home I’m running to leave the hog with the farmer that raised it.” This was and is my belief of how it should be it was not however what you could call a winning slogan.
Looking again at commands we all know we must follow the commands of the government since they have an exclusive right to the use of force and they have shown over and over they are not slow to use it. However, as far as me and my house we will follow the Lord and he has given us the two most important commands of all, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
To my mind and my spirit that says it all. If we love our neighbor as we love ourselves we will show all the compassion needed and we won’t need any bureaucrat to command us to do so.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2017 Contact Dr. Owens [email protected] Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens