In his speech at CPAC 2015, Ben Carson talked about how helping the downtrodden in society by supplying all their needs like food and healthcare with giving them a way out of the dependency was not compassionate. He went on to say that the percentage of the population on food stamps has kept going up over the years thereby indicating it did not fix the problem it was supposed to. He went on to say there are two opinions on what should be done next – one, to change course or two, to do it more, that is, have more welfare. He reasoned that making people dependent was not compassionate. Real compassion would be helping these people climb out of dependency.
Is Dr. Carson right? Is not a society where the government looks after all the needs of people without the need to work and become independent, seem very compassionate? Is it not our duty to help others?
Let us analyze both sides one by one.
First option is to change course. This would involve what Dr. Carson called “investing in our fellow human beings”. It could be things like helping people gain skills through which they could bring value to the marketplace and thus become independent. In the long term, this kind of strategy would make the society a better place. People would realize that they have the ability to transform their lives.
Dinesh D’Souza, in his latest film “America” talks about the French writer Alexis Tocqueville, who saw the founding principles of America in action while traveling the United States in the 19th century. D’Souza goes on to describe how Tocqueville found Americans to be adventurous and entrepreneurial. This was the idea America was founded on – individual freedom and this is exactly what Dr. Carson encouraged in his talk – that is, make people realize that they control their destiny and can succeed if they were determined to do so.
What about the second option, that is, to have more government welfare? Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Even though people who want more welfare have good intentions of helping others, is this really a compassionate thing to do? In a society where people know they will have all their needs like food, housing and healthcare met regardless of whether they go to work or not leads to society where people have no ambition and often live soured lives.
In reality, this is one of the principles of socialism. Winston Churchill defined socialism as “…a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” A few decades after Churchill, after some years of socialist influence, if we look at Great Britain today, complaining about life being unfair has become a national pastime and people have no goals. Instead of finding things they could do to better their lives, people prefer to sit around and whinge about how the government was not doing enough. There is a widespread belief in the British society that being successful means exploiting others and that government should do more to help the poor. Britain has a lot more government welfare than America. The result – high tax rates, people have lost the sense of adventure and there is widespread resentment towards people who strive to succeed.
In conclusion, Ronald Reagan once said, “Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.” President Reagan knew how socialism rots society and how it was far more important to motivate people to help themselves and become independent than expanding welfare programs to take away the incentive to work and contribute to society.