Friday, January 01, 2010

Entitlement to Welfare

An entitlement approach has crept into attitudes about welfare, but it is prevalent in every area of life. We see it in the bankers, who believe they are entitled to big bonuses. We see it among public service manager, who believe they are entitled to huge salaries. It is widespread among young mothers, who believe that they are entitled to a night, or weekend, away from their families and assume their mothers are obliged to provide the service. It is widespread among employees.

There is nothing new about this entitlement approach. It was used effectively by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. The Devil used it again during the temptation of Jesus. “Jump from the Temple and you are entitled to have the angels come and rescue you.

An entitlement approach to life is inevitable in a society that squeezes out the influence of the gospel. Welfarism is just one manifestation of a much deeper and widespread problem. The solution is the gospel, and a renewed mind, not taking away entitlements.

When social connectedness collapses and the influence of the gospel declines, the level of dysfunction increases dramatically and ability of people to support themselves declines. Much of it is self-inflicted or family afflicted, but it does prevent people from caring for themselves.

Advocating a reduction in taxation by reducing welfare payments with nothing to put in its place, makes Christians appear cruel and heartless. It might result in some savings at the margin, but it does not deal with the underlying problem. Given that nothing exists to replace it, I would prefer a slightly generous welfare system, in which some undeserving people get help, to one that is so tight that people with real needs fall through the cracks.

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