The Poor You Shall Always Have Among You

Mark 14:

3While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

4Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume?

5It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

6“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

7The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.

Recently I have engaged in a spirited debate about the state of the poor in the United States.  What I find intriguing is the number of people who concern themselves with this subject who themselves do not live in the United States.  Of greater interest is the number of people living in places with higher poverty rates, less opportunity, etc., who choose to speak on this subject.  Lately I have found myself in discussion on the matter with residents of Costa Rica.  So, I did a little research on the matter and compared the two nations.  You can read that comparison here.

I want to be clear that I support safety nets.  I personally donate a lot of my time and money to worthy individuals on a regular basis.  The question that no doubt immediately sprang to mind was, “What constitutes a ‘worthy individual’?”  Very simply, that is a person who has come upon hard times, is trying to rectify the situation, is not perpetuating the problem intentionally, and for whom help will actually make a difference.

In other words, I don’t give money to bums and panhandlers.  I don’t donate to crack heads.  I don’t flush my money down the toilet trying to help those for which there is no real help.  Many of the bleeding hearts who decry my way of thinking do these things, and I am going to talk about that momentarily.  But before I do I want to post a graphic for you to consider.

Poverty By Race in the U.S.

One of the popular thoughts among leftists and liberals is that poverty in America is based on race.  Because it is en vogue to use the word “war” to describe things one does not like, mainly for the visceral reaction to the word, we are accused of waging war on the poor.  However, as this graphic shows, the poor are predominantly comprised of white people.  So one must postulate that our society which is predominantly Caucasian, is waging a war on white people.  When you actually say those words you realize how stupid they are.

So…are we actually helping the poor?  You decide:

Spending on Poverty

With all the money being spent, why are we not decreasing the number of people in poverty?  Well, you can read more on that subject here.  But I will explain it to you in simple words.

Many people who wish to help the poor, like my dear friends in Costa Rica, use their hearts rather than their heads to solve problems.  So they wake up each day and bolster their sense of self worth by doing some good deed of which they are immensely proud.  Then they go to bed each night facing the grim reality that they have tried to stop a river with a 5 gallon bucket, their efforts were fruitless, and they made no real difference whatsoever.  Someone like me comes along and questions the bucket method…and they snap.  They team up with other, like-minded individuals, and take out their frustration on the person questioning the method.  Failing once again to apply their minds and determine a well known and understood fact.  Wolves are not intimidated by sheep.

I know…I said “simple words”.  Here is how the situation actually plays out.  (Names have been changed to protect the easily offended)

Carlos wakes up one morning and turns on the news.  He sits eating his oatmeal in his modest middle class home and he hears his favorite liberal morning show host decrying Wisconsin’s food stamp reform bill.  He doesn’t live in Wisconsin, or even in the United States, but he nevertheless feels indignant.  How dare those Yankees demand that people suckling from the public teat actually spend other people’s money on nutritious foods!

Carlos then gets in his modest car and drives to his modest job where he earns a modest pay.  After parking he walks several blocks to the building he works in.  Along the way he passes a homeless man sleeping on a sidewalk.  He stops and pulls $10 (or the equivalent in his currency) out of his pocket and hands it to the man.  After which he proceeds to work.  His step is a little lighter, his smile a little brighter.  He feels a socially appropriate sense of sorrow for the man’s condition, but at least he can smugly declare in his mind that he has just done more than half the population of the United States has done to help the poor.  (He’s kind of obsessed with the United States for some reason).

The next day the same man is lying on the same sidewalk.  For reasons inexplicable, Carlos’ $10 has not provided the man with permanent shelter, food, job skills, or in any other way materially changed his life.  The man did in fact get a cheeseburger and a 6 pack of beer with the money, but somehow this has not altered the course of fate.  Carlos is upset.  He gets on Facebook and starts posting stories.  Not about how the poor in HIS country are treated, but about a distant land in which what he thinks, says or does makes no difference whatsoever.

Then Carlos runs in to me…

I challenge Carlos to do what I have done.  Have the courage of your convictions.  Commit to personal involvement and directly change the lives of individuals.  Do not simply drop a couple bucks in a kettle once a year as an anonymous donor and believe you have changed something.

On several occasions I have taken abused and battered women in to my home and let them stay there for as long as they needed to.  Both as a single young man and as a married older man.

I have found people in desperate need of help, and I have helped them.  Not by dropping $10 in the kettle or the offering plate.  But by identifying the need for appliances and paying for them.  By helping people stuck in financial troubles pay off their bills.  Offering food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, and a shoulder to lean on to the downtrodden and broken.  Because when I speak, I mean what I say.  And I actually DO the things other people talk about.

The system, whether it be in the United States or Costa Rica, is not designed to lift people out of poverty.  Politicians measure power by the number of people whose lives they control.  Every person dependent on the government for basic life necessities is another person in a politician’s pocket.  So, they give you enough to survive, and not a dollar more.

They don’t want you to die, but they don’t want you to live either.  They want you to trudge down to the welfare office every month.  They want you to receive and spend food stamps.  They want you in subsidized housing, on medical assistance, and dependent on them to raise your kids.  That is universal.  In every nation where elections are held this scenario plays out.  In those nations where some warlord or dictator runs the show, the poor are of no interest or consequence.  They are simply things to be exploited, raped, murdered, or otherwise victimized at someone else’s whim.

But do the bleeding hearts raise hell about the plight of the poor in Kenya, Bosnia, or any of the other shitholes on this planet?  No.  They’re too busy pointing the finger at the only nation on Earth taking an active interest in changing the shitholes in to places suitable for human habitation.

You subscribe to a failed model.  You have been giving a man a fish for decades, perhaps even centuries.  That same man shows up every morning for a new fish.  I subscribe to the notion that if we teach that man to fish he will go on about his life.  He will become self sufficient.  He will begin to contribute to society rather than live off of it.  For that I am considered to be part of some evil cabal, waging war on those of lower social status, opposite gender, and different ethnicity.

But the facts do not bear you out.  The list of people whose lives in which I have directly and personally intervened is long.  My conscience is clear.  My works speak for themselves, and for me.

So I will politely ask Carlos to clean up the street he lives on before he worries about the street I live on.  And change his own nation before he finds extra time to be worried about mine.


4 responses to “The Poor You Shall Always Have Among You

  1. Baaaaaaaa baaaaaaa You make many very good points.Less than a year ago we had someone in a VERY dire situation live with us for nearly 3 months. It was awesome. Kudos to you for your support of individuals. In contrast to the enormous poverty problem in the States you have helped 3 or 4 people. How big a difference does that make in the grand scheme of things ( 5 gal. bucket)? My point is that we all have ways of helping others. We don’t have welfare in Costa Rica. The poor are on their own and aren’t even included in the public healthcare system if they don’t pay into it. Yes, we have a LOT of work to do, but as you can see from the statistics which you provided, our resources are pittance compared to the States. There is money there, it just needs to be managed more effectively. I will NOT stop voicing my opinion about little girls being denied abortions in Paraguay or unfair treatment of same sex couples in the States, or shaming the poor. I want the world to be fair. As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s where I’m at.


    • I didn’t say you shouldn’t voice your opinion. I said, clean up your house before you worry about mine.

      Yes, the United States has vastly more resources than Cost Rica. We also impact the world in exponentially more ways. It’s our soldiers that liberate nations. Our ships that provide disaster relief. Our pilots and crew that die on rescue missions in Nepal. Our fields that send food all over the planet. Our taxes that prop up the economies of failing nations all over the planet.

      You could assess it like this. if the United States were to simply disappear, what would be the global impact? Now, if Costa Rica were to disappear…

      Yes, we need better management of our resources. But when you take the average American on food stamps, who lives in reasonable housing, has cable, internet, a cell phone, a vehicle, etc., and you compare them to the poor in Mexico sorting through garbage dumps looking for an orange peel… I’ll take the United States.

      As far as the number of people I have assisted directly, it’s probably closer to 50 in my lifetime. But the difference between this and dropping off some cans of food at your church is simple. When I step in to someone’s life I endeavor to change it permanently, and I usually do. The people who eat ONE meal at some soup kitchen that some bleeding heart works at 1 day a month, will be back again for the next meal. What I do is pull people up out of the bullshit, help them get on their feet, and get them started on a path to success. So, when you take those 50 people, and multiply them by the number of people they are now able to help, their children who will not grow up in poverty, their friends who will see a better way, and so on and so forth, I am actually changing the world.

      Therein lies the crux of my statement, and my challenge…which is never really accepted by most of the libs and leftists I know. If you do not like the way the world is, you will not change it by preaching to the choir, or arguing with detractors on Facebook. If you want the world to be a better place, take some advice from Michael Jackson, start with the man in the mirror. And then go change it. Sacrifice something. Clean up YOUR street.

      When you cannot find a poor person within driving distance of your home, then perhaps (only perhaps) you should turn your attention to global issues. And when you have changed the litany of human rights violations in China, the abuse of women in Saudi Arabia, hunger in Ethiopia, and poverty in the entirety of Latin America…then turn your sights on the United States.

      Whether your compatriots wish to admit it or not, the simple truth is, whether you are rich or poor, black or white, man or woman…there is no better place on this entire planet to live than the U.S. We should be the last place people in glass houses should be throwing stones.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a rough estimate. I don’t actually count them because I’m not seeking credit. Most of what I do is done behind the scenes without fanfare. But I do get personally involved in the lives of those around me. Sometimes it works out well, sometimes I get taken advantage of. 2 years ago I spent in excess of $10,000 trying to help one person straighten out their life. Turned out they wanted money, not help. So I tossed them back in to the cesspool I found them in and moved on.


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