Of luminaries and free lunches

Dave Richardson's picture

Adults generally know that it is a good idea for children eat their vegetables. Children would probably eat Pop Tarts, candy, and pizza for every meal if you would let them. They love how these foods taste, but don’t really understand that a steady diet of these things will eventually make them sick.

Adults want children to do their chores, not because adults are mean or lazy, but because they know that children should contribute to running a household and they need to learn how to work.

Beyond that, I take my kids out every year to sell luminaries for the band. I teach them how to relate to people, how to sell, how to serve and do customer service, and they learn that there is a direct relationship between hard work and monetary reward.

The eighth-grade band goes to Disney World every year, which is quite expensive. When my kids go to Disney World their trip expenses are fully paid by the money they earned selling luminaries.

I could have paid their expenses, but they would have missed these critically important life lessons. In fact, they may have learned instead that just because they exist and desire to go, they are entitled to a trip to Disney World.

It’s not fair, we allow them to believe, that some parents can afford to send their kids and other parents cannot. We may even reason that the families that can afford to pay for their kids to go to Disney World should pay for other kids, too. If someone will give you whatever you want, why would you or should you ever earn it for yourself?

How do you compete with Santa Claus? Any more our government promises a paycheck, healthcare, housing, food, even cell phones to anyone who “needs” one. There’s nothing you have to do — just apply and Santa will do the rest.

The awful truth is that Santa Claus doesn’t really exist. So who is underneath the suit and beard? It isn’t a loving, compassionate saint or God. It’s the government.

It seems irrelevant which party is in charge. Democrats and Republicans alike think it is the role of the government to play Santa Claus. However, when the government puts on the suit and beard, they have to have something to give away.

The government can’t create wealth. Where does it get the wealth to give away?

Printing more money just devalues our currency and borrowing it puts us all in debt. Every person in this country RIGHT NOW owes over $200,000 as our share of the national debt. The only other way the government can give things away is to take it from someone else who created wealth.

But people have needs. True. Does that mean the government should take from someone in order to give it to someone else?

If I were to do that I would be a thief and charged with a felony. So what is it when the government does the same thing?

There are legitimate things for which the government should tax, but there is much more these days it has commandeered.

When Santa Claus gives things away, it is a gift for a special occasion. With our government, though, it’s Christmas every day!

When the government plays Santa Claus there is no incentive for people to earn anything for themselves. Others who have had their wealth confiscated so the government can put on the suit and beard become resentful.

It is not the government’s job to do good. It is our job. We have allowed our dysfunctional government to usurp the role of people helping each other.

But people need help. That doesn’t mean the government should do it. People helping their neighbors is far better than government aid. When I choose to give something to someone, it is out of love and compassion. It is not loving or compassionate when the government takes my wealth from me to give it to someone else. I didn’t willingly donate my wealth to the government. They took it.

My family gives money to many charities. We also help several of our neighbors every week with basic subsistence needs out of our own wallets and pantry. I don’t want to say any more than that because that is between us and God.

The point is when people help each other there is love and compassion. It is much more effective and efficient than a government bureaucracy. There is dignity and accountability.

A few people really can’t provide for themselves and their neighbors should help them. Most others need help for a short time. There are many, though, who really don’t need help at all, but will take it if it is available.

Why not? Government aid has little accountability, which then fosters dependency and loss of dignity. Those who are helped become slaves to the government, but so do those from whom the government takes the wealth.

By voting for Santa Claus we may feel good for a while, but in the end we are locking ourselves in chains.

[David Richardson of Peachtree City coordinates the Assumptions Project. He has a Master of Theology degree from Oxford University and is a recognized expert on the religious attitudes and beliefs of university professors. He, his wife, and his children have lived in Fayette County for over 22 years.]

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