An Easter Message From Joplin: Jesus Rose From The Dead To Lower Your Taxes

Yesterday I received in my mailbox a solicitation from a “Gospel Rescue Mission” here in Joplin called Watered Gardens. The appeal said “Easter is all about…new. New life, New hope and New direction.” The enclosed response card said:

Yes! I want to provide new hope this Easter. Yes! I want to help break the cycle of dependency and poverty.

watered gardens appealI get it that a local ministry would want to use the theme surrounding Easter as a way of, uh, raising funds to help the poor. That’s fine with me. But there is something disturbing about the Watered Gardens appeal that has nothing to do with Easter. It has to do with the anti-government ideology that underlies it.

The founder and director of Watered Gardens, James Whitford, allegedly discovered that “the growing welfare state is hurting more than it’s helping.” He discovered this, he says, by first discovering that those working “in the name of mercy and for God’s justice” were using “misdirected” compassion that resulted “in blind charity that fosters oppressive dependency in the very people for which we give our lives to love and empower.” He wrote:

We reached a point within the first few years of ministry when we realized our good intentions may actually be part of perpetuating a problem rather than yielding the fruit of poverty resolution.We recognized the need for the development of on-line tools so charities and help organizations could connect and work together as seamlessly as possible.

That sounds good. That sounds like the heart is in the right place. Trying to “resolve” the problem of poverty and coordinating with other charities to do so sounds like a great idea. But then came this:

As the use of those tools began to grow, “double dipping” became less frequent by the poor who were used to abusing charity or for those who were simply stuck in a dependent cycle. The tools were empowering our community to love people through accountability and personal challenge instead of the common hand-out!

Now we get to the nitty gritty. The poor were guilty of “double dipping” and “abusing charity” because they were either dishonest or “stuck in a dependent cycle.” And the way to correct their ungodly behavior was “through accountability and personal challenge.” In the name of Jesus, no more hand-outs! No extra soup for you! If this sounds familiar to your ears, it should. It is the Mitt Romney 47% nonsense. It is the Paul Ryan “makers and takers” libertarian fantasy. In 2012, Ryan said:

“Right now about 60 percent of the American people get more benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes. So we’re going to a majority of takers versus makers in America and that will be tough to come back from that. They’ll be dependent on the government for their livelihoods [rather] than themselves.”

As you can see, what Joplin’s James Whitford allegedly discovered isn’t really anything new. What he supposedly figured out from his experiences with the poor and homeless in Joplin has been right-wing dogma about the less fortunate and government dependence since at least the New Deal.

In any case, Whitford explained how his new-found “tools” to “to love people through accountability and personal challenge instead of the common hand-out!” didn’t work so well with government:

Our progress in this vein met a hurdle when it came to state welfare. Even though a welfare office was in our local community and helping the same people we were helping through our established, connected and growing network, state officials said they were unable to release information about those receiving help such as SNAP, TANF, and LIHEAP (food, cash and utility) assistance.

Why would Watered Gardens and its network of private charity agencies want to know about what government help local poor people were receiving? Obviously so they could hold accountable a poor person coming to them for help by possibly asking: “Hey, what did you do with your $125 worth of food stamps this month?” Without that government-provided information, poor people might take advantage of the Christian do-gooders and get more than they deserve because, as we all know, the destitute will, when given a chance, “abuse” the help they are offered.

That is the rationale behind so much right-wing public policy directed toward the poor. And in case there is any doubt in your mind that James Whitford, leader of a local “Gospel Rescue Mission,” subscribes to that right-wing rationale and thus has his sights set on curtailing government programs for the disadvantaged, read this:

It became clearer that the presence of welfare was hurting the poor more than helping them. It’s been said that dependency is merely slavery with a smiling mask. Today, that mask is the continued distribution of resource in the way of food stamps, housing assistance, and even private forms of charity lacking insight to outcomes. The oppression I see so frequently in the welfare dependent poor compelled me to consider that more was necessary than just community connection, but education and policy reform, as well. The True Charity Initiative formed in the Fall of 2012.

From the looming deficit in Washington to the poor who remain dependent on Washington, the growing welfare state is hurting more than it’s helping. Now is the time for a grassroots movement of community leaders to join in an initiative that calls communities to effective charity and freedom from welfare. There has never been so important a moment in our history for the Church to be both a voice and a force for reform, to provide just and effective alternatives to state welfare, to empower and ennoble the poor, and to take up again the mantle of true and effective charity.

I want you to take note of a couple of things he said besides expressing his hostility toward government assistance. He wants something called “effective charity and freedom from welfare.” Well, who doesn’t? A decent-paying job, perhaps a union job, would take care of the problem. But—and this is crucial—Whitford wants “the Church to be both a voice and a force for reform.” That should scare the devil out of all of us. The Church, he suggests, should be involved in shaping public policy and, of course, it will be the Church that becomes one, if not the only one, of those “effective alternatives to state welfare.” That way, if you need help, you will have to come to the Church to get it and, along with a meal and a cot, you will also get an if you don’t work, you don’t eat” sermon and an invitation to meet Jesus (Whitford: “It’s been our joy to be a part of a growing work that expands its reach every year to help those in need and share Christ’s transforming message”).

If you go to the website of “The True Charity Initiative” that Whitford started, you will find libertarian think-tank articles like “The Rising Cost of Social Security Disability Insurance” or “Less Welfare, More Charity,” both from the CATO Institute and both full of the same maker-taker dogma that Republicans find attractive these days.  But you will also find a 2012 article by Whitford himself in which he complains about a government program that distributes cell phones to the poor and claims such programs are not “true charity.” Here he exposes not so much his fondness for Christianity as his fondness for an “I’ve got mine” libertarian philosophy that has come to dominate Republican politics:

Justice is prerequisite to true charity. How can charity be true if it’s accomplished by taking from one what is rightfully his? We have seen a great deal of funding flow into Joplin in the last year, both private and public. Did some of those public tax dollars do any good? Of course. Should we be happy for the people who are helped by public funding? I am. I simply suggest we recognize that this is not true charity and that rather than celebrate accomplishments achieved at the expense of working, taxpaying Americans, we should instead wince, drop our heads a bit and find a new resolve to stand for what is just, a place where liberty is preserved and true charity abounds.

People like James Whitford and all those who work for and support his Watered Gardens ministry in Joplin are obviously free to marry a brand of libertarian selfishness with a brand of evangelical Christianity, if they think that makes sense to them. They can also claim that they want to take away the power of the government to help people and give it to the Church because that would constitute “true charity” and it would allow the church to hold those charity-abusing poor people accountable. But we should not allow their weird mix of Ayn Rand philosophy and Christianity—which Rand would find appalling, by the way—to dictate public policy.

Unfortunately, though, it is.

Here’s how Kevin Horrigan, writing for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, began an editorial on the latest efforts by our GOP-dominated Missouri legislature to “reform” the Welfare State via Senate Bill 24:

Among many, if not most, Republican lawmakers in Missouri, it is an article of faith that people on “welfare” are lazy good-for-nothings who prefer to sit on the sofa watching TV, eating steak, gawking at pornography and soaking up fabulous government benefits instead of hauling their able bodies to work.

The facts behind poverty in Missouri belie this notion, but never mind! Why let facts get in the way when stereotypes are so much easier?

SB 24, as Horrigan points out, is designed to make an already stingy welfare system in Missouri even worse:

It “reforms” the TANF program, which pays families an average of $230 a month. About 76,000 people receive benefits, 52,000 of them children. Of the 24,000 adults on the program, the majority are single mothers of those children. The Legislature wants them to get to work, though what they will do for child care while working at their $7.50 an hour jobs is their problem.

Horrigan points out other attempts by Republicans in this state (and Democrat Jay Nixon has not exactly been a bleeding-heart liberal governor, by the way) to make war on the poor, particularly poor kids and their moms. But it is not only in Missouri where Christian Republican legislators are trying to get government out of the welfare business. The effort is nationwide, as this headline demonstrates:

House GOP approves budget to hike defense, slash safety-net programs

That Los Angeles Times article notes:

The ambitious but largely symbolic spending proposals adhere to Republican ideas for slashing social safety-net programs and lowering tax rates.

That is exactly the kind of “reform” that a local Joplin man running an allegedly Christian charity is asking “the Church” to get behind. Because, as he told us, “Easter is all about…New life, New hope and New direction” and, apparently, it’s about crucifying welfare programs and raising tax cuts from the dead.


[Image of James Whitford from KODE TV]
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  1. ansonburlingame

     /  March 26, 2015


    On some respects this is a good point for lenghty discussion. You for sure have made your case to oppose that which Water Gardens and Whitford espouse. And of course you attack those views as must more right wing politics, which Whitford is not, a politician espousing some wild theory of political philosophy. Now I know, have meet and talked with Whitford and doubt that you have had the opportunity to do so.

    He cares DEEPLY, passionately about the poor and homeless in America today. There is absolutely nothing fake or politically motivated in that basic instinct that makes up Whitford’s “life’s work” if you will. That is the first and driving part of him, that I have seen at least, personally. Second he is very much a Christian as well but not of the arm waving, “God agrees with our politics” type of (I call) crazies on the political right. I could for sure name a few of them around here!! But now doubt Whitford honestly believes his approach to “welfare” is supported by Christianity, what “Christ would try to do”. Is he wrong? Maybe but that is his honest approach, apolitically, to care for the homeless.

    Take all his public writings, from the Globe for example. He is not calling for any one to vote for any particular party or candidate. He only writes to promote his ideas about how to best care for the homeless in Joplin by and large. He writes apolitically if you will in his attempt to gain resources and community support to “help the homeless” as his primary motivation.

    My church feeds one meal a month to Water Gardens, work done by some honest Christians to “help the homeless” only. Certainly you would not denigrate such efforts nor would I accuse you of doing so. But are you suggesting that because you disagree with some of what Whitford writes that my church should go feed the homeless somewhere else? I don’t think you are doing so.

    Instead I believe you are attacking what you see as the politics of a man that is trying to remain apolitical is his efforts to simply help the homeless, who certainly need all the help they can get.

    Summarizing, I believe James Whitford represents the good, even great ideals of a Christian man trying his best to mitigate a terrible social problem in America. So I disagree with a blog by you attacking his politics as YOU see his politics. My guess is James would claim no “politics” whatsoever in his efforts, his writings, his views on how best to help the homeless. And of course, rather than you, I believe he has some great ideas that should be carefully considered, apolitically, by all people wanting to “help the homeless”. or the alcoholis, or the drug addicted, or the insane people wandering our streets without a home.

    And if you believe some of those alcoholics, drug addicts, insane or otherwise homeless people won’t or never will purposely and dishonestly “game the system” well my guess is you have not been in the trenches watching carefully, at “street level” what goes on all the time. Just go watch the homeless man begging at a corner, getting a $20 bill and heading as fast as he can to the next liquor store.

    I also hasten to add that I have not “lived at street level” myself. But over the last 15 years I have met many that did so and found a great path out of their stituations. Sure help was needed and available. But they got out of terrible conditions with more than just “help” from others. In fact, Duane, I think I can honestly state that I have never encountered a former homeless person that got out of and REMAINED out of that same condition based ONLY on help from others. It took help, but also extraordinary effort on their own parts to stay out of the homeless condition, thereafter.

    It is my view that James addresses such failures to remain homeless after help is rendered to first relieve that condition. Help “forever” is not going to work in his view, I think, and certainly in my own view, right winger that I am!!



    • Anson,

      I’ll respond in order:

      1. If Whitford is not a fan of reactionary politics, then you will have to explain why he promotes the same on  “The True Charity Initiative” website? The CATO Institute isn’t exactly a bleeding heart liberal think tank—it was co-founded by Charles Koch, for God’s sake. It is one of those laissez-faire affairs in which the guiding philosophy is that if people will only work their asses off and stop complaining about the obstacles they face, then the American Dream will become a reality for them just like it did for the Koch brothers—who inherited a nice business from their father. As I just wrote to another commenter, how ironic that a lot of people who love triples in the game of life just happen to have been born on third base.

      2. I don’t doubt for a minute that Whitford “cares DEEPLY” about the poor. I would never put myself in the position of judging what is in his heart. I reserve judgment only for what is in his head, the ideas he promotes and the cynical assumptions about the poor that support those ideas.

      3. I also don’t doubt his personal affection for Jesus. But whether he waves his arms about his Christianity or not, he does wag his finger at the poor by imputing to them some fairly negative attributes. I don’t remember Jesus doing that, but then it has been some time since I journeyed through the New Testament in earnest. Are there bad folks who take advantage of the system? Yep. And some of them wear $1000 suits and work on Wall Street—and those folks do much more harm to the country than some guy getting an extra biscuit at Watered Gardens.

      4. Whether his approach “is supported by Christianity” I will leave others to judge, since my opinion on that matter is hardly relevant anymore. I can only tell you that mixing libertarian-conservative politics with the teachings of Jesus is not good for promoting either, as far as I’m concerned.

      5. You said Whitford “writes apolitically.” Sorry. That can’t be true. When one condemns government programs for the poor, that condemnation by definition is a political statement. And it happens to be a political statement that would fit nicely on the lips of, say, Rush Limbaugh.

      6. You are right that I am not attacking anyone for feeding the poor, obviously. They need all the help they can get, including from “we the people,” which in this country we call our government. In fact, if we weren’t so stingy with public funds going to the disadvantaged, there would be no need for a Watered Gardens and Mr. Whitford could turn his life’s work to something else. As far as I’m concerned, the burden of helping unfortunate citizens shouldn’t just fall on church-going folks. The burden is one we should all help to bear.

      7. And you are right that I am attacking “the politics” of Whitford, even though you claim, falsely, that he is apolitical. CATO articles on his website give the game away, as do his personal comments on government assistance to the poor. Those are political positions and they are political positions belonging to the Republican Party.

      8. I’m glad you mentioned “alcoholics” in this context. I have had personal experiences with folks who couldn’t stop drinking, for whatever reason. And I know they were encouraged to join AA in order to get some help. But you know what? The point of programs like the one AA promotes is to become “dependent” on someone else, a higher power and the community of former drinkers. It would be an odd criticism of someone who went to an AA meeting for help to be told: “Yes, you can manage your addiction but, please, don’t become dependent on God or Jesus or the people of this group in doing so.” In fact, as I understand it, AA promotes the idea that you will always be an “alcoholic” and you are powerless over it without some kind of dependence on a higher power. So, let’s get this straight: it is not dependence that is the problem with Whitford and others like him, when it comes to helping the poor. It is being dependent on the government. And that, no matter what one might think about it, is a political position.

      9. Finally, I want to address your last comment:

      It is my view that James addresses such failures to remain homeless after help is rendered to first relieve that condition. Help “forever” is not going to work in his view, I think, and certainly in my own view, right winger that I am!!

      Okay. Now we get to the basic contradiction in Whitford’s (and maybe your) position here. It is a central doctrine of Christianity that we are to eventually be completely dependent on God for everything we need, for everything we are. All of us are to become more “like Him” and less like our sinful selves. Slowly we are expected to turn our lives over to Jesus and let him have his way with us. We are to surrender ourselves to him. After all, he died for us. And we are totally dependent on that vicarious sacrifice or we are all doomed. So, the central doctrine of Christianity is one of pure dependence on God.

      Yet, somehow, it is wrong for impoverished people to become “dependent” on others, even though all of us are, in some way or another, dependent on others. In fact, we evolved to become dependent on others, it appears to me. Thus, the worst part of Whitford’s philosophy is that somehow we are corrupting the poor, if we offer them too much help without accountability, strict accountability. Okay. I’ll play along: The death of Jesus on the cross, meant to freely—no strings attached—provide us with an eternal life that is dependent on God, has to be the most corrupting act in the history of the world.

      Or else, maybe dependence isn’t the problem. Maybe it is the fact that some folks just can’t make it in this uneven world without some better way to distribute the abundance we have around us. And even if a few of those folks “abuse” the system, even if here and there some single mom gets an extra day’s worth of food stamps she doesn’t “deserve,” I’ll take that world over one in which James Whitford or any other private citizen gets to decide who should and shouldn’t get “pure charity.”



  2. I think I have to agree with Duane on this. There is a subtle undercurrent of blame (blaming the poor for their circumstances) that is pervasive in right-wing politics…. and I think we as Christians must constantly examine our own hearts on this front…. if we feed the poor and then cast a vote for politicians who are taking away desperately needed benefits, then what are we doing? Maybe just making ourselves feel better?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anita,

      Sorry that your comment got lost in the wacky world of WordPress comment filters (which don’t work very well), but I appreciate the point you made.

      I will say that, when it comes to Republican Party politics these days, the “subtle undercurrent” of “blaming the poor for their circumstances” isn’t so subtle. Romney’s and Ryan’s comments in the last election weren’t all that timid about the “takers,” as well as other comments from both state and federal legislators on the right, not to mention the entire conservative commentariat, all of whom seem to think that if people would just work a little harder and ignore the cold, hard realities of their situations, then they could have the American Dream just like the Koch brothers, who, by the way, had the dream passed down to them by their father. In a world of triples-loving achievers, it helps if you were born on third base.

      Thanks again for your insightful comment, Anita.



      • ansonburlingame

         /  March 30, 2015

        Duane and Anita,

        Wow Duane your long (and very thoughtful) reply to my first comment was a great discussion. I also take Anita’s support for your view as just that, support for part of what you wrote but not an “attack on Anson” as well In other words the three of us could have a very constructive and lenghty talk “over coffee” related to all the issues involved. Whitford would be able to contribute as well

        My point is simple for such a discussion. Neither Anita (I know her rather well) nor James, in my view are political animals, despite where they may “post their ideas”. James wrote in CATO because CATO agrees (it seems) WITH James, not the other way around. CATO is political, but again, not James, again in my view. Anita as well is not at least publicly political as well and I don’t consider her remarks above political either. She just has a passion to support the poor coming from both her background and faith (I think).



  3. Ben Field

     /  March 26, 2015


    It is amazing how different people can read the same story and come to opposite conclusions. Duane mentions in the article that the TANF program has 76,000 recipients of which 24,000 are adults and 54,000 children. According to mathmatics this represents 1 adult out of 250 residents in Missouri that recieve such benefits. Assuming that .01% is too high for you and these 24,000 single mothers worked at 7.50 per hour 40 hours per week going 52 weeks a year, their salary would be $15,600 per year. Average child care cost in the USA is $11,660 per year, what would these women do with the almost $4000 windfall? Give it to Whitford? He is neither Christian nor politician! He is playing conservatives by telling them what they want to hear and soliciting religious and charitable people by proclaiming his divine intentions. That way he gets a percentage from all groups. Whitford certainly has no business seeking records from the government to determine eligibility to funds if he is faith based. You cannot look a con man in the eye and determine his character or true intentions. I know Duane called this one right!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kevin Beck

     /  March 27, 2015

    On Wednesday a Florida Mother went to one of her 2 jobs. While at work, 3 of her teen sons prepared dinner and ended up in a fight over the food. One teen shot and killed one brother and wounded the other before shooting himself. This awful, depressing story fits into this conversation. A little help for this women may have made a huge difference. By all accounts, she was doing her best as a single mom. Details are still unfolding, I suggest looking this one up.

    Kevin Beck


    • That is a horrific story on so many levels. I will say that the proper right-wing response probably is something like this: The teen sons should have also had two jobs so that they wouldn’t have time to fight over the food they were cooking. Oh, and, by God, we need more access to guns!

      Man, oh, man. What a deal.


  5. ansonburlingame

     /  March 27, 2015


    A great example to stimulate a creative “what to do” discussion. Certainly there is no set or comprehensive solution to HER problem and the problems her kids, have or had.

    But I will first ask, were the hell was Dad, for starters. I would also ask if Mom came from a background where violence by kids was used to settle disputes? In other words how well equipped was she, from her own education, to find ways to deal with confrontations withut violence. I would ask if this was the first time such family issues ever came to the attention of the “authorities”, etc., etc. etc.

    I could ponder all sorts of things, was the shooter high on drugs, etc., etc. Why was a gun in the house, etc., etc. We could all make a long list to ponder.

    But after all the “investigations” are completed, all the “root cause analysis” conducted, my guess is only a fool would say that just giving Mom $1000 a week for the rest of her life would fix all the issues identified.

    Sane people would find deep and systemic issues in that family. And our society still argues all the time how to just throw money at such dysfunctions to fix it. But like I said above, this should create an interesting string of discussion, I hope.



    • Kevin Beck

       /  March 28, 2015

      AB- I have been trying to find more info on this story. There is not much, but one officer said there is no record of any incidents of any sort at this home. It also said the single mom recently was in a car accident and refused to get her injuries treated and returned to work. Call me what you will, but so far I can relate to what this women may be going through. Who knows where the father is, but I think if you look at most poverty cases in the US you will find that single parents, mostly women, are a common factor.
      Having been raised by a single mother, I can say it is not easy. We managed to get through some tough times with no help. My mother was told if she quit her job at a bank that we would qualify for help, which she refused. My brother and I worked part time jobs in order to enjoy teen activities. I bought a truck and cut wood on week ends to heat our home. My experience has shaped who I am and I would not change a thing. However, I do not expect every single person to be able to adapt as we did. It was the most difficult time of my life and I do not wish it on any teen. It greatly effected my education, as I never challenged myself in the class room because I did not have time to study. I “skated” by, as they say. I did not challenge myself until I was an adult and used the GI Bill for education.
      Perhaps that is where we differ. A single mother trying to raise kids on her own needs two things, and it is cash and time. Now I know you will argue this and bring up the case where someone bought some lobster or a cell phone or some other such story. I know the system gets abused and all efforts to prevent scams should be made. But having lived this life I can honestly say that a little help heating our home would have made a huge difference in my life. I was only able to get a $300.00 loan for an old beat up truck (for hauling wood) because my mother worked at a bank and an uncle employed me at his bakery. I only had access to cutting wood because the state of Michigan allowed me 1 square mile in the Huron National Forest to cut anything dead or down on the ground. Most teens cannot expect to receive such help. My Uncle allowed me to work around my school schedule. We had a safety net provided by family and friends. Our Catholic church may have offered help, but their biggest concern was how to classify our family after the divorce. We basically quit going after that. So no, we did not even “single dip” on their precious resources. (To this day, I will trust government over a church partly due to this experience. We will save that for another day! )
      To me, the root cause of poverty is single parenting (followed by the “world” economy which has been lowering wages for decades). I work for the USPS, and we delivery dozens of letters per day here from child support agencies. How do you fix that? Jail the dead beats? Sounds great, but in reality it only makes the problem worse. Take money from the father and put him out on the streets? Make the mother stay home like they tried to do to my mother? Not an answer either.
      I have no idea where you get the $1000.00/week figure, that is an irresponsible number for you to throw out. But I assure that if my family had $1000.00 per YEAR, it would have made an enormous impact on my life. The all or nothing scenario for single mothers is not a solution nor is it working. If a single mother is doing the right thing and working, why not help that person? As for my mother, she became a successful business owner. But she was not able to achieve that while raising 3 kids on her own, only after my siblings and I became adults.

      Kevin Beck

      Liked by 1 person

    • First, you asked, “why was a gun in the house”? Come on, Anson. Our culture is saturated with the idea, promoted by right-wingers,that every house should have a cabinet full of guns.

      Secondly, we don’t know what this family’s life would have been like, if the mother did not have to work two jobs to make a living. The right-wing idea that people are poor because they don’t work hard enough is partly to blame for the fact that so many people have to work two or three jobs to get by. But even though we don’t know what things would have been like if she could have had one eight hour job that supported her family, we know that it couldn’t have been worse.



  6. They don’t actually understand the concept of charity at all. They’ve corrupted it into a form of investment. You don’t give to charity out of the expectation of return beyond the feeling that you’ve done someone good. What’s worse is that this form of investment in people is a slippery slope into slavery. What else would be the economic destination of poor people unable to support themselves?

    In the back of their minds the Christians are thinking that government handouts weaken the church’s charity mission, but the reality is that poor people go to poor churches and rich people go to rich churches. Rich church charity goes into jumbotrons and safari missions to Africa. Poor church charity goes into scraps of food for the homeless. Which one of these is going to benefit most from taking away government social assistance?


    • Interesting comments, my friend

      In one sense, when we spend money on public programs to help people get, say, an education or job training, that is a form of investment. And a good investment. But when we give people food to eat who otherwise would go without, that is something different.

      You are so right that some “Christians are thinking that government handouts weaken the church’s charity mission.” And some think it weakens the church, period. I suspect that some of the hostility on the right to government help for the poor has a lot to do with the general anxiety that so many evangelical Christians feel about the loss of their cultural relevance, not to say dominance in some parts of the country.



  7. ansonburlingame

     /  March 28, 2015


    Great care must be taken to use the correct words in this issue. Charity is the wrong one for sure, at least in my view. Government is not or should not be a “charitable institution”. Its job is to govern all the people equally.

    No question that there are some that need “help” for a laundry list of reaons. But help to do what, from government, is a separate question is it not. I submit that the goal of government is to provide the pathway to any and all citizens getting on or returning to a self sustaining path or path of more improvement in their future lives. Once on that path, then PEOPLE must follow it, for themselves and those in their families.

    Now back on my soap box!! Education, free public education has long been that GOVERNMENT program to provide the means for all citizens to at least become self sustaining at a “livable level” in society. Hopefully, as happened in the “Greatest” and Baby Boomer Generations, kids were able in many, the vast majority of the cases, to go “beyond” their parents standards of socio-economic conditions. But not today by any stretch and I lay the blame squarely on the dysfunction in our system of public education,. That is my soap box and has been for a long time.

    I remain firm as well in saying that giving this Mom $1,000 a week for life will not come even close to achieving a worthy goal for her or her kids. Hell as soon as the kids become adults you might as well plan on giving each of them the same “salary”.

    I don’t have the long term solution for Mom alone, as well. But, read the column in today’s Globe written by the MO Supreme Court Chief Justice and her views on the CASA program. I had never heard of it but if we have one around here I would sure volunter to particpate.



    • >at least in my view. Government is not or should not be a “charitable institution”. Its job is to govern all the people equally.

      Your view is uninformed. It’s impossible for people who are far from equal to be treated equally. Government is the only viable institution capable of establishing and defending equality on such a large scale and economic equality is proven to be fundamental to equality. Any isolate group with sufficient money can use that influence to disenfranchise any other group they don’t like. Once you understand this, there is no way to see how equality is possible in the absence of government charity.

      Too many people like you mistakenly believe that everything has to be profitable, and blame government for doing things that would better run privately. The fact that government can do something without a profit motive (charity) is the reason that poor and disenfranchised people receive any services at all, and it’s bigots who complain that their tax dollars go to servicing such people. Your economic opinion is only a disguise for more base moral reasoning.

      What you fail to recognize, and I’m not sure how people manage to do this if they are not bigots, is that there are many people who simply cannot consistently live up to the standard of independence you set for yourself, and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with their own faculties. Sometimes bad things happen to people and there’s nothing we can do.

      >But not today by any stretch and I lay the blame squarely on the dysfunction in our system of public education

      It is precisely the people who reason as you do who have spent the past several decades undermining the education system. They think the government shouldn’t pay for it, so they cut their budgets and the self-fulfilling prophecy is self-fulfilled. Education becomes crap and that is the justification for cutting it even further. But the underlying question no one asks is who the real beneficiaries of the loss of public education are? Once you realize that, too, you know that the government must provide that charity so that people are not forced into the arms of a waiting predator pretending to offer them charity.

      >I remain firm as well in saying that giving this Mom $1,000 a week for life will not come even close to achieving a worthy goal for her or her kids. Hell as soon as the kids become adults you might as well plan on giving each of them the same “salary”.

      I grew up in a single parent home. The only choice here is between having the mother work and use most of her salary to pay a professional child-care worker (which is typically subsidized by government anyway) or staying at home and doing it herself. As soon as the kids were old enough to go to school my mother could work part time or full-time if we went to after-school daycare which cost a lot. There’s a social and economic calculus here which you completely ignore for some unstated reason.

      But of course you expose your bias in thinking that the children will grow up and be supported by welfare. I went to college and make above average salary. How does that fit your libertarian fantasy world?


  8. Kevin Beck

     /  March 28, 2015

    AB-Where is this figure of $1000.00 per week coming from? Please provide some more information on this. Anyone reading, this let us know if you know anyone that gets $ 52,000/year in welfare. I think it is a total exaggeration, perhaps I am wrong.

    Kevin Beck


    • I think we could find a lot of welfare parasites doing better than that on Wall Street, where hedge fund managers get the benefit of a lower tax rate on their incomes. Just consider this (from

      If their earnings were taxed as normal income they would pay a 39.6 percent tax rate, compared to just a 20 percent capital gains tax rate. For a successful manager earning $10 million, the savings come to $1,960,000. If they earned $100 million, the savings would be equal to $19,600,000.

      Given that reality, it is hard to understand why we should be worried about single moms getting a few food stamps each month, but if you follow Republican politics, it is the moms who are parasites and the fund managers who are doing us all a favor.



  9. ansonburlingame

     /  March 30, 2015

    Well, the discussion became lengthy indeed, just as I assumed that it would. Of course I cannot respond to all the positions that challenge my own thoughts on this complex matter. So I won’t try at least to any degree.

    “Where did you come up with $1000 a week” was asked by several and I will answer that one as it gets to the “root of my issue”. $1000 a week should be more than enough money for any single mom to run a single family household without going without important thinks needed by such a family of say four. But use whatever number you like and don’t assume even the source of such income. Call it $X a week.

    My point of course is that MONEY does not solve the underlying problem wherein Mom is absent, Dad is notwhere and the kids are “running wild” with no supervision of control and the lack of ability to control themselves, in the story provided.

    Kevin’s reply above was a great one and at least in my view helped to support my point. His single Mom obviously “broke the code” of poverty, or whatever, and raised a son without much help. Sounds like both she and Kevin are doing OK and Kevin does not sound like a bitter man ranting against “Wall Street”, well perhaps. In other words, Kevin’s story, at first glance is a story f success, primarily it seems because Mom refused to let anything prevent her child from becoming a productive citizen in a modern society.

    I have oft written of my own lifetime friend in KY that would never “take a handout” etither. I have the greatest respect in the world for such folks and listen carefully to them when they express their concerns for the poor, etc.

    Anyway, good discussion but never a path for real resolution it seems.



    • Kevin Beck

       /  March 30, 2015

      AB, I would not use my case as an example of how to fix societies ills and get out of poverty. My mother was well on her way to a successful mid-level career in banking when poverty hit our home after my freshman year. Had I been younger, things would have much much different. We were not wealthy by any means, but my mother did not have to educate herself, raise young kids, need child care, and work minimum wage jobs. And I would not expect any teen to report to work at 3:30 AM as I did, before school. In fact, we were probably breaking child labor laws. I had this job because of an uncle, I doubt most teens would be hired like this, nor would I suggest it. I was tired all the time, and as I said before, it effected my education.
      My point was that I can relate to a single mother and the fact that the system wanted my mother to quit her job to get any help. It is a cycle that needs to be broken, but seems impossible for today’s single mothers. Today’s Conservatives want a young single woman to not have an abortion, work for $8/hr, raise, feed and educate the kids, and work towards a career. To top it off, could you please do it in 3 years or so? They now want to set a time limit on your benefits of a few years. Boot straps my ass, that is near impossible for most humans. REMEMBER, I am talking about a single mom, not an able bodied man with no responsibilities.
      No, I am not bitter towards anyone who has success in life. But I am bitter towards anyone who has used the many vehicles provided by our government for success who now call for abolishing those life lines. ( Paul Ryan?) I am very happy with my place in this world and have manged to make a very comfortable life for my family and am looking forward to educating my kids and having a very nice retirement. But I will never look down my nose at those who struggle. I will never demand the end to students loans or food stamps for a young mother. If you have never been poor or hungry, you most likely will never be able to know what it feels like.

      Kevin Beck

      PS, anyone find out where one can get $1000/ week? The highest I found was under $30,000/yr. That is a combo of food stamps, rent subsidies,child care subsidies, and welfare. Sounds glamorous!


  10. ansonburlingame

     /  March 31, 2015

    Ultimately the question of how to break the cycle of living “bad lives” (poverty of course being only a part of such) is something humans have struggled to answer for …….

    We make it a political issue, unfortunately, but it is really a “human issue”, in my view at least. A book on western philosophy that I keep on my bedside table, The Examined Life, explains it best. Philosophy is a human quest to answer two questions,: 1. Who am I. 2. How do I live a “good life”. Those are the words of the editor of that book, not mine.

    No philosopher, theologian, politician or ruler has found the “pat” answer, for themselves as individuals or societies as a unit, big or mall making no difference.

    Kevin’s case sounds different than the example he gave primarily for one reason, my guess at least. HIS, (Kevin’s) Mom already knew the basics of living a “good” life (but not necessarily a wealthy one). She probably achieved such through her own education and maybe her background as a child. The other Mom may well not have had that chance and thus even with money would be floundering over how to best raise her children or conduct her own affairs as as adult.

    That is not an attempt to demean the second Mom. It just asserts that it takes far more than money to be able to live a good life. And money will not, in and of itself, turn around a damaged individual or group of individuals as well. Give one “bum” $20 buck and it COULD cause him to break his own cycle and do amazing things. Give the $20 to another individual and he may well squander it and keep coming back for more and more, making every excuse in the world why he just needs MONEY.

    But anyway, good discussion but not pat solutions either, in my view.



    • Kevin Beck

       /  April 5, 2015

      AB, sorry for the late response, but I think the solution is simple. If a person is working towards educational goals to improve themselves then we need to stop lumping them into the same knee jerk reactionary laws that we are seeing today concerning welfare. It shouldn’t be that difficult to see who is making an honest effort. Either you are in some sort of educational program or you aren’t. Either you are working, or you aren’t.

      Kevin Beck


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