One of the greatest villains in modern society is perpetual welfare. Unlimited welfare entitlements not only ruin families, neighborhoods, and entire demographics, but welfare itself often demotivates people from working. This is a self-defeating cycle.
Welfare needs people working and paying taxes in order to keep the various programs going. An incredible result of welfare reform by Congress in the 1990s shows that enrollment in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program dropped to about 8.3 million, down from 13.4 just three years earlier. It’s clear: the best way to get people off of welfare is to make working a mandatory requirement for most welfare recipients. (via The Heritage Foundation)
In the state of Alabama, thirteen counties enacted work-for-welfare regulations that resulted in an eight-five-percent drop in food stamp participation.
By all appearances, working for welfare benefits leads most individuals to work for wages instead.
Man’s need to work has long been recognized by Christian theologians. Saint Paul told the Thessalonians that: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.'”
Later commonsense wisdom articulated the idea that “God helps those who help themselves.”
All of this is to say that sloth is not a virtue, but a sin. Man is called to work by God. Furthermore, early Protestant theologians sanctified work as part of humanity’s divine “calling.” This means that each human being has a God-given “calling,” or profession, that they must work in order to feed their families.
Putting time into your “calling” is also a way to praise God, for God gave us all our callings in the first place.
As much as welfare dependence is a corrosive on the body politic, too many Americans confuse “toil” with “work.” Work is a job that ennobles the worker and allows them the ability to pursue God and their families.
Toil, otherwise known as wage slavery, turns human beings into mere cogs in an industrialized machine that only cares about hours worked and money saved.
Catholic theologians have long criticized certain economic systems for having a cynical view of human life.
Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum of 1891 called on Christians to avoid the traps of atheistic socialism and the avarice of unfettered capitalism (which is anarchy). A truly Christian economy would allow men to work hard, not toil, for living wages and the freedom to pursue their other divine missions on Earth.
Pope Leo XIII’s conclusions were voiced by great English conservatives like G.K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc, whose Distributism economics sought to return the British working class to a more holistic environment where the drudgery of toil was replaced by the independence of craftsmanship, family life, and distributed wealth.
In conclusion, a truly fair and justice economy avoids both the pitfalls of indulgent welfare and the callousness of toil. Humans deserve meaningful work, not welfare handouts.
More importantly, Christians should stand against welfare, socialism, and unlawful capitalism for one very simple reason: they promote atheism and advanced secularism. Welfare and “anarcho-capitalism” — a market economy without law — places man at the center of life and amplifies his material comforts rather than amplify his relationship to God and family.