What if I told you that we have been doing things the wrong way for at least fifty years as far as poverty is concerned? Let me tell you poverty sucks. I know firsthand because when I was younger, my family and I were poor. We were immigrants from a third-world country, and we did not have much money in our name.
While my father was an engineer back home, the only job he could get in the United States was that of a shoe salesman. My mother was a midlevel government bureaucrat back in our home country in the United States. The only job she can get was stuffing envelopes.
However, despite the meager pay which is pretty much a few cents above minimum wage, my parents had something that really enabled them to rise above. They didn’t have flawless English accents. They did not have any connections. They were located in a part of the country where there are lots of low-wage immigrant jobs.
What they had was an abiding faith in what America was about. They truly believe that America is the land of second, third, fourth and fifth chances. In other words, this is the one country in the world where you can come with no money to your name and end up dying a very rich person. In other words, they believed in the American dream. It’s not about the money. It’s about the opportunity.
You have to understand that the vast majority of countries in the world really lock in your destiny the moment you’re born. If you were not born the right color, if you were not born with the right last name, good luck to you.
I’m not saying that it’s impossible for you to transcend your class levels and die very rich and powerful, but if you were able to do that, you are very rare because those societies do not operate the same way as an American society operates.
America is really that one country in the world that is based on an idea. The idea is anybody can improve themselves. They just have to compete. It doesn’t matter what your educational attainment is. It doesn’t matter who your family is. You have to compete. Can you do the job or not? That focus on openness and competition is what made America great and continues to make them America great regardless of how many times the state tries to destroy that engine of competition.
The funny thing is a lot of traditional societies view competition as nasty. They think it’s something unpleasant. If you’re a very competitive person, you are ambitious, backstabbing, backbiting and not exactly the kind of person people would want to hang around with. However, you are definitely going to be in your element because that is the kind of attitude that is rewarded again and again and again.
Against this backdrop, I want to focus on the idea of welfare because we have spent trillions of dollars ever since the late 1960s and have very little to show for it. In fact, a lot of the social dysfunction in the United States can be traced to this failed government policy and, for all our troubles, the American people are blamed for being racist, exclusivist, not really understanding and not caring enough.
I don’t know about you but last time I checked spending trillions of dollars definitely qualifies for “caring enough,” which leads me to the conclusion that maybe the best form of welfare is to kill it altogether. That’s right. Burn it to the ground, destroy it, flush it down the toilet, throw it in the trash, use whatever metaphor for removal you can come up with.
Instead, replace it with a job. There, I said it. I know it’s politically incorrect. I know it’s definitely inconvenient and rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but this is what works. When you give people a job, they are grateful for having that job. They will fight to keep that job. Furthermore, when they have a job, they are forced to improve themselves if they want to earn more money. They are forced to show up on time and show responsibility.
In other words, all these things that happen to your character because of the job that you have are the things that do not happen because the government simply sends you a check every two weeks.
If we are serious about curing a lot of the ails of modern American society, and we are serious about trimming the deficit, look into welfare reform. I know it’s basically going to be the dismissed as racist, exclusivist elitist, but when you look at the immigrant experience in the United States, this is 100% true. If it worked back then, it can definitely work today if we had the political courage to do it.