Does God Want More Welfare & Debt?

I’m in Indianapolis today preparing for the Frassati Society’s LIVE OUT LOUD Conference, where I’m a keynote speaker.

But I wanted to offer a couple quick comments about the debt ceiling debate which is now entering it’s final critical days in Washington, DC.

As you may have seen, the U.S. Bishops – under Bishops Blaire and Hubbard (remember him?) – have issued a letter to the U.S. House entitled, “Budget Cannot Rely on Disproportionate Cuts in Services to Poor Persons, Requires Shared Sacrifice by All.”

Now this statement is interesting to me on many levels. First it is only addressed to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives … not the Democrat-controlled Senate or President Obama. It strikes me as odd that these two bishops would address their concerns to only 1/3rd of the legislative process.

Actually, on second thought, it isn’t so odd. Because Democrats have demonstrated that they are incapable –or at least profoundly unwilling– to cut or reform social welfare programs.

David French at NRO’s The Corner has an excellent post on this topic which asks the fundamental question that needs to be answered – how does giving money to failed programs actually help the poor?

After literally decades of failed social policies — policies that have helped create a permanent underclass, fostered a dependent spirit in millions of citizens, and helped explode the illegitimacy rate (all for the low, low price of several trillion dollars) — it would be tempting to roll our eyes at [these examples of] christianized socialism. Unfortunately, however, the evangelical progressive Left is gaining ground in American Christianity.

Sadly, this same progressive left is alive and well in (some) quarters of the US Bishops Conference. French goes on to illustrate – complete with charts and video – a strong argument for how social welfare programs have not only failed to do what they say they are designed to do – assist the poor and needy – but have actually made matters worse, for a price that more and more of us are coming to realize is truly exorbitant.

The line from the letter by Bishops Blaire and Hubbard about the need to “raise adequate revenues” and encourage “shared sacrifice by all” is particularly distressing, because translated into policy it simply means raising taxes on those who make enough to already pay taxes. As I saw someone put it in the comments to French’s post, “Charity is not the willingness to take from somebody in order to give to somebody else.”

I’ve been following the debt ceiling debate in Washington, DC closely, and I do think prudentially the debt limit must be raised. But the idea that the way to solve our mushrooming debt and ever-expanding deficit is to take more money out of our pocket and give it to government programs that will squander it is one we can’t discard too soon, that is, if we are truly serious about helping the poor.

I highly recommend you read French’s post on NRO and, if you have time, Yuval Levin’s post explaining what is the single biggest driver of our future debt and insolubility (as a preview, the Church’s teaching on end-of-life issues is only going to become more critical in the decades ahead).

In the meantime, please join me in praying for a good outcome in the debate over the debt and deficit this weekend. All of us have a lot to gain or lose in this.

UPDATE: For more weekend reading, Victor Hansen looks at the deeper ideological differences which he says are underlying the current debate over policy in DC.



  • Matt B

    God bless all our Matthew Chapter 25 co-religionists. However, I don’t think that anyone would argue with you on the “compassion for the poor” question. That’s a red herring. The real question is on means. The truth of the matter is that if the American govt was a family, they would be living in a SRO. If the American govt was a business, they’d be completely bankrupt. If our govt was a horse, the compassionate Christian with horse-sense would put that horse to sleep. I think many, like Bps Blaire and Hubbard, have vastly underestimated the irreparable damage to our economy caused by liberal excesses in the past decades. Our liberals, in their vandalous largesse, have killed the goose that laid the golden egg. How do you recover from 50M abortions – murdering the most productive part of society? How do you get over decimating the population through induced sterility? After all, people are the only productive asset. Even Marx knew that. And all the young people who have evaded the spinning blades of abortion and contraception have been dazed into senescence by loud music and video games. They’re even more dead than their erstwhile brothers and sisters, under the knife or caught up in condoms. Want to throw Matthew 25 at the US economy? It’s like accusing a dead man of jay-walking.

    • Sharon

      Matt, I agree with you but I wonder, what is the solution? I’ve paid some attention to the news on the debt ceiling debate, but the reporting focused on the risk of the US defaulting on its debt – alarmist reporting without substance, designed to keep viewers upset and tuned in to find out whether the sky will fall.

      We won’t default on our debt. We can keep printing money for now. But what is the solution in the long term? It is obvious that we have mortgaged our children’s futures. Liberals continue to believe that there is a magic money fund in Washington, and that anyone who thinks otherwise really just wants to see children dying in the streets, without food and without healthcare. I know that our money could be handled far better outside of Washington, and I also know that we can’t continue to pretend to have an endless money supply. How do we get out of the hole we’re digging – spending at the rate, I’ve seen, of $3.7 million per minute?

  • Sue

    The American people have proven how generous they are in times of real need. Charity at the local level would not just be a handout, but real help to have people be self sufficient. Just giving does nothing to help break the cycle.

  • Shar

    There are a couple of things to think about. One is, the Social Security situation is proof that the government cannot be trusted to handle money. The money that was supposed to be set aside to be available for retirees has been raided by the government. If the money put into that system remained in the system and was prudentially invested, there would be far more than enough to cover SS payments for everyone who put money into the system. Instead, the money in that fund has been spent. The elderly are made to feel that they have no “right” to take any more out of SS than they put in. If anyone else was entrusted with retirement money, and was supposed to invest it, and instead spent the money, they would be thrown in jail. But that is what our government has done. They have overspent and overspent and overspent and have partially funded their irresponsibility with Social Security money. Sadly, our representatives cannot be trusted to take care of our retirement money. What can we trust them with?

    Another point to consider: If you gave money to Mother Teresa to help her care for the poor, and she wasted it, would you give her more, or would you find someone you could trust to get your donation to the people who need it? When you give money to the government, believing they will use it responsibly to care for the poor, and they waste it, do you find someone else to give your money to? Good luck trying that out.

    The bloated, wasteful, politically motivated government is not the best entity to care for the poor. And I am not receiving ethanol subsidies, don’t own a business, don’t earn $200,000 a year, and don’t use a private jet. I am someone who gives to the poor and expects results from my donations.


    Dear Editors: Unless a a new group of liberal Catholics has suddenly discovered this site, your readers are sending a definate messege. The Body of Christ is beyond left and right, thank God. ~ Pax to you and to our nation. ~ Greg

    • Mary

      @Greg–I think indeed that you have hit the nail on the head, and a new group of someone, (don’t know if they are Catholic or not,) has indeed found the site. I have noticed over the past few weeks that the comments have gotten more and more outlandish merely to voice opposition to Catholic teachings. As for yourself, you have always been polite and thoughtful, even if not agreeing with traditional opinions. I don’t always agree with what you say, but I appreciate how you say it. As for many of the other new names, I think in the future I’ll skip the comments altogether and just read the headlines. So many of the commenters are just mean and silly. I know, I know…that’s what blogs are like, a chance to voice your opinions, but I think I will just form my own opinions and avoid the mud slinging altogther. There’s enough of that in political circles and network news that I don’t need another dose of it here.
      Peace to you, too.



Receive our updates via email.