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8/28 vs. 10/2: Dueling Faith Traditions Why We Fight

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Paychecks vs. Food Stamps

by Christopher Chantrill
October 18, 2010 at 1:05 pm

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THE MARK of a good politician is an instinct for the dividing line. We are talking about the line drawn in the sand that gets you to 51 percent of the vote and leaves your opponent with the rest.

Say what you like about Newt Gingrich, but his new dividing line over paychecks vs. food stamps sounds like a winner. After all, who can prefer food stamps to pay checks? Apparently Nancy Pelosi can. She bit hard on Newt’s dangling fish lure:

"It is the biggest bang for the buck when you do food stamps and unemployment insurance — the biggest bang for the buck," she added.

Now who’s the Stupid Party?

It’s not just Newt. Conservative politicians all over the world are showing signs of brain activity. There’s the conservative tax-cuttin’ Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt . He had the nerve to tell Swedes that his party was on the side of the average working stiff. According to Fraser Nelson:

When elected four years ago, leading a four-party coalition, Reinfeldt had a striking slogan. ’We are the new workers’ party,’ he said, meaning he would cut taxes for those in employment, but not for those on benefits.

Right now, Sweden just happens to have the strongest GDP growth in Europe. Could that be because Reihardt’s party pushes paychecks over welfare benefits?

Long before Bill Clinton ran on “It’s the economy, stupid,” your average elected politician ran on “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.” Even Slow Joe Biden gets that, although he gets confused about the spelling. But President Obama spent the summer boasting at fundraisers about the “most productive, progressive legislative session in at least a generation.” Progressive legislation is a liberal euphemism for welfare.

The American people right now are interested in jobs, jobs, jobs, not welfare, so Newt Gingrich has grabbed the opportunity to set up a dividing line between jobs and welfare, painting a picture in bold colors to contrast the Republican Jobs Party with the Democratic Welfare Party. Let’s help Newt with a few bold brush strokes on welfare.

Let’s hear first from Lloyd Marcus on why he’s a black Tea Party patriot:

A urine smell permeated the stairwell. In the darkness due to smashed light bulbs, the sound of broken wine bottles underfoot echoed off the concrete walls. I was nine years old. With the elevators out of service half the time due to vandalism, I was forced many times to take the scary trek into the shadow of death up the stairwell to our sixth-floor apartment in the projects of east Baltimore.

Fortunately Lloyd’s dad got a fire-department job and moved his family out to the black suburbs. Today Lloyd Marcus is a Tea Partier, unlike his cousins left behind in the projects.

Here’s more, from a report in the British Spectator on Britain’s worst welfare ghetto. It’s a neighborhood in Rochdale in the north of England where 84 percent of the people are on benefits. The Spectator’s reporter talked to the local bailiff (i.e., repo man) at a local “estate” or public housing project.

Most residents do not leave. According to the bailiff, they have instead developed their own parallel economy. “The ambition is there but it’s not to get a job or move out, it’s to get benefits. And there is a definite career path. You or I would aim to get a better job. They aim to get a better benefit.”

The most desirable benefit is “incapacity benefit” or disability pension. Once you get it, you get it for keeps.

Another good place to go for stories about welfare in Britain is “Inspector Gadget’s” Police Inspector blog. Here he is talking about his home town, “a concrete wasteland too terrible to describe.”

The urban decay, the rot, the complete absence of any hope at all, really set in when the railway freight business deserted the town 50 years ago. I once saw a bloke in custody, who was in my year at Ruraltown Comp [high school]. The Sergeant asked him if he could read and write before offering him the custody record to sign. He said he couldn’t. I interjected. ‘I was at school with you buddy, you can read and write for God’s sake’ he said ‘I used to be able to but I forgot how’. He hadn’t had to read or write anything for 20 years, so he simply forgot how.

There’s a piece this week by James DeLong in The American speculating what comes next after 70 years of the liberal “Special Interest State.” Here’s my prediction. We will see a movement of moral revulsion against the cruel, corrupt, and unjust world of liberal welfare programs.

It’s a question of paychecks or food stamps. Which do you think gives America “the biggest bang for the buck?”

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures


German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Knowledge

Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital


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