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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Compassion: Part II

by Sam Huntington (Continued from last week)

Of course, we have no evidence of a serious effort by any federal or state legislative body to decrease the number of impoverished citizens.  In fact, the opposite is true. If federal and state welfare program enrollment criteria are relaxed to the point where there are no serious restrictions, then there can be no fraud.  It’s all good.  No problem, Amigo.  Just pay out money to everyone —it doesn’t really matter.

Au contraire.  It does matter.  The long-term effects on the children of welfare recipients, particularly in single-parent homes, guarantees that a hefty percentage of these “impoverished” children will never themselves become productive members of society.  Their only model is a career welfare single parent with multiple love interests who never seem able to pull them selves out of the welfare abyss.  From a practical standpoint, this situation is both dismal and dire —and one that makes leftist politicians outright giddy.

In all of this, we seem to be missing one important aspect of welfare assistance programs: compassion.  Let me take a moment to address this.  The literal meaning of compassion is “to suffer together.”  Compassion is the feeling we get when confronted with the suffering of others, particularly people we know, when we become motivated to help relieve that suffering.  How many of us are motivated to reach out to people we don’t know?

Even though compassion is related to empathy, it is not benevolent.  Empathy suggests the ability to assume the perspective of and feel the emotions of others; compassion comes from a desire to do something to relieve suffering.  It is an overt act ... and if you happen to be religious, it should be an explicit act.  These are the things that religious people believe will help them to find a pathway to Heaven.  Sadly, our welfare system in the US is not compassionate, nor does it elicit empathy for the plight of the impoverished.  In fact, the government has relieved us of any overt act of Christian charity.  They take from us a certain percentage of our income, and give it away to others … and there is scant impetus to change the status quo.

Should we, therefore, endeavor to be more compassionate toward others?  Perhaps ... but unless we are personally affected by another person’s misery, it is almost impossible for us to “feel” their pain.  Who in St. Louis actually feels the pain of someone living in Boston?  So we must wonder, where will we find the greatest opportunity for true compassion —from the federal or interstate bureaucracies, that treat citizens as numbers, or from within local communities, church organizations, and other civic associations?

As part of his doctoral work, a friend of mine proposed community-based corrections as a way to significantly reduce the recidivism rate.  He argued that we must stop sending people away to far distant state and federal prisons.  Instead, offenders should be incarcerated locally, rehabilitated locally, and when their time is served, release them back into the embrace of the community they offended. 

Community-based corrections is similar to the strategy of placing a beat cop within a neighborhood, someone who knows the people.  A beat cop does far more to prevent crime than any other strategy, and yet city planners argue that the costs far outweigh the good.  Considering the costs of incarcerating a million citizens, I find this argument no less than remarkable.  Now extrapolate this schema to welfare assistance programs. 

If community-based policing and corrections appears to make sense, then so too does the notion of compassionate assistance from within the immediate community —but, of course, this is only true if you wanted to remove people from welfare rolls, rather than keeping them enslaved to it.


  1. Replies
    1. And this has exactly what to do with compassion, empathy, or welfare Marge?

    2. A bit of a delay in removing Kenosha Marge's off-topic comment because I was otherwise occupied yesterday.

  2. Marge, I admire them. I'd LOVE to believe in coincidences like this...what magic, what fairyland. As I said on the post below, I'm wondering if they'd vote for unicorns if they were liberals?
    Yes, scandal after scandal...but it's all in the Republicans' minds, right? (smile)

    Sam, I hope you saw my email to you. I messed up with WordPress and hope to APPROVE this time...sorry.

    Great piece....there is no will to win the war, there's no will to help the poor...only making everyone dependent on Uncle Sam, who is, frankly, BROKE. (ssshhhh! Don't tell Kirsten Powers or Juan Williams, they both said "Baloney, we can pay for all those children and more...that's WHO WE ARE") Trouble is; WHO WE ARE is BROKE.

  3. "a hefty percentage of these “impoverished” children will never themselves become productive members of society"

    As that percentage gets heftier I wonder if it will reach a tipping point where, what's left of, productive society will say enough-is-enough ? My significant-other used to be a social worker until she just couldn't take it any longer; man the stuff she told me!!!!!!!

  4. The Detroit Free Press reported some other interesting statistics regarding Michigan pregnancy and birth rates recently too:

    * The MLHS Kids Count study showed a 20 percent increase overall in out-of-wedlock births. In 2000, 34 percent of babies were born to unwed mothers. Now the figure is 40 to 41 percent. There are increasingly more single-parent fathers also.

    * In 2009, unmarried women under age 25 accounted for 75 percent of all births.

    * From 2000-2010, 80 percent of teen girls who got pregnant did not expect to do so, but the number of teens who had a second baby out-of-wedlock dropped to 13 percent.

    * The greatest increase in unwed pregnancies was among white women, but only one out three white mothers are unwed compared to four out of five African-American women.

    * Michigan is the only state to drop in population; the loss was entirely among the population of children.

    * About half of all mothers in Michigan were eligible for Medicaid.

    These trends mirror a larger nationwide trend to single-parenting. Divorce rates account for a portion of unwed parents, but these statistics point toward a growing trend to parenthood among never-been-married women.

    Now I ask: Is the future of America currently on display in Detroit? Don't forget to vote Democrat if you like this!

  5. It's good in theory but it's a failed neoliberal theory.

    First, remember that Hoover felt community based charity would get us through the great depression. Nope, so caution may be needed since we now this fails under stress (which I submit is our current condition).

    Ultimately this is a neoliberal idea which wants government removed as even a basic monitor on the market.

    In neoliberal theory we can only make a collective decision through the workings and feedback of the market. It robs us of our individuality and humanity but let that go.
    What you advocate (and I do not attribute ill will) is a structure that aggravates the very problem you mean to correct.

  6. Yes, and the number of women who are career child abusing baby makers is going exponential. Shiniekwa or Daisy (most of these females are not black) has 3 or 4 females in her litter to unknown fathers. Those 3 or 4 have 3 or 4 themselves because it is the life they know. Sure, some will break out of the mold but that will be the exception.

    We are paying for child abuse and for creating ignorant dependence. Yea, the dems at least love it. It is what they had in mind when lbj created this cancer upon America and called it the great society. Anything given a name like that should immediately be rejected. ie Affordable Care... It's a wonder they didn't call it orgasmic care.

  7. AOW, we both dislike the trend in social media and its constant presence but this is an example of neoliberal economics and the loss of individuality as we let the market shape us.

    It's one of the main reasons I get a little upset with conservatives who are supporting the very ideology that is producing the results they dislike.

    Community and individuality, take your pick (I choose both) but right now they are lost to "the market" and we see this in the deterioration of society.

    1. Ducky, excellent observation. Perhaps the market wouldn't shape us so much if it were truly "free" and thus not rigged.

      Just sayin...

  8. Sam, how can you implement a community penal system without conflicting with the current neoliberal move to for profit prisons.

  9. Kid,

    "Daisy) has 3 or 4 females in her litter to unknown fathers. Those 3 or 4 have 3 or 4 themselves........ the dems at least love it. It is what they had in mind"

    It's like an assembly line to create an expanding supply of Democrats while our Nation crumbles under their weight!

  10. A lot of Americans have come to believe that they don't need to extend charity on an individual basis because most Americans assume that the government has already stepped in to take up the slack.

  11. Sam, this stuff on unbridled welfare... There is no drive within a vast majority of handout recipients to pursue a honorable and productive life. The "compassionate" Progressives have poured on the concrete to shield them from calls to change their lives.

    One must think... My dad had one suitcase when he was released from Minidoka's "war relocation center" in September 1945. While he did not become a millionaire, he managed to eventually buy a home and grow it from there... just like over 100,000 other folks of Japanese descent. Did they hold out their hand?

    Your title of compassion held true for my dad... As you expressed, "..compassion comes from a desire to do something to relieve suffering." Too bad the folks you describe in your second paragraph don't have the guts.


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