In actuality, through helping the needy, we actually help ourselves and the well-being of our society in a variety of ways. By giving a poor person an opportunity or assistance to avoid homelessness, that person can oftentimes begin the ascent out of poverty and in the long-term, eventually, become a productive, tax-paying consumer, which then actually becomes a contributor to the overall economic welfare of society as opposed to an economic drain. As noted by Andrea B. Schleshinger of the Wall Street Journal, “It is a rare public policy initiative that promotes fairness and social justice and, at the same time, promotes productivity in the economy and in society at large. Investing in disadvantaged young children is such a policy” (Schleshinger). The United States, indeed, has several policy interests to promote by helping the poor.
Another critical policy reason to help the poor is that an investment in helping the needy translates into reduced crime. As noted by Dr. Lawrence Sherman, the director of the Fels Center of Government, the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology, and an Albert M. Greenfield Professor of Human Relations, a small investment in humanity and in the needs of the poor will lead to less crime and, therefore, greater public safety. Dr. Sherman summarizes his experience in working with criminology across the globe: “The societies where incarceration rates have gone up have been places where the increase in income-inequality has risen in direct proportion. And the anger of the majority of the population which gets relatively poor in relation to the highest earners does not get expressed at the high earners, but rather at people who break rules and who become the target of anger and demands for more severe punishment.
” Indeed, we need to find a way to reduce incarceration. No one disagrees with reducing crime and increasing public safety. If we can help the needy in the process, then helping the poor no longer seems like “throwing money away” instead it really is an investment in the well being of our society in general.
According to Charles Carrol one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, our nation also needs to reflect morals. Without morals and values, he warns that the government itself will not last: “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying Christian values, whose morality is so sublime and pure…are undermining the solid foundation of morals the best security for the duration of free governments.” (Carrol). In short, it is in our best interest economically, socially, politically, and morally to adhere to old-fashioned Christian morals of following the Golden Rule. The government should do unto the poor as it would like done unto itself in such a situation. By doing so, we truly reflect our sense of morality and our values as a nation as well as protect our society from crime and social upheaval. What do we have to lose?
Carrol, Charles. “On Morality.” Letter to James McHenry. 4 Nov. 1800. MS.
Dornhoff, Prof. William. “Wealth, Income, and Power in America.” Who Rules America? (2005). University of California at Santa Cruz. Web.
Phillips, Peter (2006). Censored 2007:the Top 25 Censored Stories. Seven Stories Press. P. 207.
Schlesinger, Andrea B. “The Wall Street Journal Advocates for Helping Poor Children.” The Wall Street Journal [New York] 10 Jan. 2006..