Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama and the beggar woman

I have just gone for a walk, in an effort to strengthen my heart after the surgery, and the entire time I was thinking about a woman I saw on television this morning. She was in a news report, weeping about her condition - she had worked at a McDonald's for several years, and did not earn enough to support her family. She was a middle-aged woman, well-dressed and wearing fashionable glasses. The president was listening to her as she begged him in tears to give her a better way of life, a better job. When she was done her tearful disquisition, Obama hugged her.

Now the liberals will say, Yes, yes, the federal government must do something to help this poor woman. And why do they say this? Because doing so makes them feel better about themselves. But the truth is that being bailed out by the government will do nothing to improve this woman's condition. If she has worked at McDonald's for years and can do no better, then she needs more education or more training, or she should use her brain to devise ideas to improve her circumstances. A government handout will merely prolong her dependency, when what she really needs is to fashion a better life for herself by her own efforts. This is the way that dignity demands we deal with ourselves.

In times of trial and crisis, I would no more think of asking the government for help than I would consider making a pact with the devil. Yet, the government, like the devil, would be only too happy to help. And why? Because fostering a culture of dependence guarantees votes. Those who depend on the government's largesse are likely to vote for those whose handouts they receive. And so the government is only too pleased to steal from those who have sacrificed and gotten a good education, and worked and struggled and built something for themselves and their children, and give the product of their labor to those who prefer to go begging to the government with tears in their eyes and hand outstretched.

In the wonderful play Marat/Sade, Sade says that the rich man gives to the beggar with contempt - his charity is nothing but a curse and a kick. I would modify this to say that the government gives to those who depend on it with contempt. Those liberals who think to assuage their guilt by using government to help such as this woman do not stop to consider that their gesture to her is, in fact, a slap in her face. It cuts out the legs from under her and reduces her to dependency by substituting government subsidy for her own initiative. And government, and the liberals who support it, do so for phony reasons: it makes them feel better about themselves, and it ensures a permanent underclass that will forever be beholden to the politicians.

Official largesse is phony largesse. It is based on self-gratification and self-interest. If Obama or any of the others truly cared for this woman and her plight, they would urge her to take her destiny into her own hands, to do what millions of others have done, to build her own life independent of government handouts, and teach her children to do the same. This would make her a role model worth emulating, and it would promote, not her continued impoverishment of purse and spirit, but her pride.