Helping the truly poor


The Bible clearly speaks of the obligations of those who are materially blessed to help those without food, clothing, shelter, or medical help. But are middle-class folks required to give upgrades to people who already have all of that?

The United States does have some truly poor people, but when we expand the number of "the poor" as the latest Census Bureau poverty statistics do, we expand cynicism and a reluctance to help-and that hurts the truly poor.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, is probably the nation's leading expert on welfare. He has persevered for over two decades in the generally thankless job of blowing the whistle on poverty industry propagandists. Rector criticizes the Census Bureau's claims that one-in-seven Americans is poor, and says Washington enormously overstates the poverty number.

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He recently looked at living conditions of those defined as poor, and then reported this:

"The home of the average poor family was in good repair and not overcrowded. . . . The typical poor American had more living space than the average European. (Note: That's average European, not poor European.) The average poor family was able to obtain medical care when needed. . . . The average intake of protein, vitamins, and minerals by poor children is indistinguishable from children in the upper middle class and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms."

Does pointing this out mean that Rector and other conservatives are heartless? I think not: He's right to note, "Exaggeration and misinformation about poverty obscure the nature, extent, and causes of real material deprivation, thereby hampering the development of well-targeted, effective programs to reduce the problem."

Our goal should not be redistribution of income from the middle class to millions of wards of the government who are not poor. That attempt leads to resistance and anger. Our goal should be to do as much as we can to make sure that no one goes without food, clothing, or shelter.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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