Why does the Church support the welfare state?

I just finished reading an article in the Tidings (a Southern California Catholic circular) urging voters to vote “yes” on specific measures that will increase taxes in our area. It said in the article that it is our duty as a society to support a progressive tax system which supports the poor. The article sounded like an endorsement of these measures and the welfare state. I cannot bring myself to support this; I am sick of being taxed up the wazoo for everything and do not support the expansion of this country’s government when it has proven itself to be incompetent at handling finances. Also, though I have no problem with the idea of charity for those who need it to get their feet on the ground after some unfortunate event, the idea of subsidizing poor choices and irresponsible behavior indefinitely for a growing number of people who seem to just be taking advantage of the system, with the threat of going to jail if I don’t, seems wrong to me. What ever happened to utilizing your God-given talents, and teaching a man to fish instead of just providing him with dinner? I donate what I can to charity and volunteer at the homeless shelter without coercion, why is this not enough? :confused: My question is, has the Church always this openly endorsed the welfare state, or is this a recent development? Was it like this pre-Vatican II (it seems like the Church has gotten more “liberal” since then)?

Please be polite, it is not my intention to sound uncharitable.

Good !
I’m with you writer. The “welfare state is not a good state.” Some need help but
churches do it better than government. The important thing is to vote & express
your God-given right to freedom of conscience.

The Church has never endorsed a welfare state:

In recent years the range of such intervention has vastly expanded, to the point of creating a new type of State, the so-called “Welfare State”. This has happened in some countries in order to respond better to many needs and demands, by remedying forms of poverty and deprivation unworthy of the human person. However, excesses and abuses, especially in recent years, have provoked very harsh criticisms of the Welfare State, dubbed the “Social Assistance State”. Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.100

By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending. In fact, it would appear that needs are best understood and satisfied by people who are closest to them and who act as neighbours to those in need. It should be added that certain kinds of demands often call for a response which is not simply material but which is capable of perceiving the deeper human need. One thinks of the condition of refugees, immigrants, the elderly, the sick, and all those in circumstances which call for assistance, such as drug abusers: all these people can be helped effectively only by those who offer them genuine fraternal support, in addition to the necessary care.

  • Centesimus Annus

But that doesn’t mean the Church is against all government involvement, just excessive involvement; a look at just about any Encyclical will show you that.

I only have time to write briefly. Christ commands us to help the poor and be unattached to material things on a personal level, but that doesn’t mean that all possible ways of helping the poor should be considered equal and interchangeable. We are to be selfless and charitable with our money, time and talent. That doesn’t lead one to say we should pay the government to be charitable for us. If doing something selfless for the sake of another makes us more Christlike, the same cannot be said about being happy to pay your taxes. It gives us no merit for doing what we are compelled to do.

I think it’s justifiable to be outraged at increasing taxes if the money is not managed responsibly. Not all taxes go to fund programs that help the poor, and even within those programs not all monies go directly to help the poor, and lastly there are justifiable concerns about just throwing money at existing services without evaluating whether this is the best way to accomplish the goal of ameliorating poverty.

So the Church supports the tax increase because in the ballot choice between allocating more money to existing programs or not allocating more money, the former is the option that most helps the poor. But if the discussion were between two programs, that may very well be a different story.

I agree with everything you say. The thing I would add is that there are conservative causes that cost a heck of a lot of money, and I am against paying for them as well.

Initially Teddy Rosevelt and the New Deal happened to it. But those programs WERE meant to be as you describe above, temporary solutions for those who have fallen on hard times. What happened to it long term? The government got it’s grips on another program. And then it does what it does best with all programs, expands them and makes them permanent. Increasing it’s own power at the expense of the citizens.

Welfare and most all of the governments ‘entitlement’ programs are very easy to fix. I, for example, happen to work with adults with major mental illnesses which they have severe enough to deem them disabled. But let’s do a thought experiment for a moment. Let’s pretend that the government came up with a program where they were going to pay everyone and anyone on any type of government entitlement program 50K/year if they got and kept a full time job. Any job. McDonald’s, Walmart, doesn’t matter. You know what I think (know) would happen. Most of the clients I work with, those deemed by psychiatrists and the state as being ‘unable’ to work full time…would be banging down the doors to get one of these jobs to get their 50K/year.
As it stands now my clients get around 25K tax free. And they get that as a paid 52 week/year vacation. So in order to get them to work, unless they are motivated to do so because of something inside them, they are not going to do so unless the economics of doing so makes sense.

And I’m pretty sure it’s the same for welfare mothers, most of the homeless, etc… that will go to show you that the individuals collecting from entitlement programs are not UNABLE to get jobs…they are UNWILLING. BUT I don’t get angry at them anymore than I get angry at someone who shows up to collect free $100 bills from someone standing on the corner advertizing they are giving away free $100 bills (this is what entitlement programs do). So I think way too many people have misdirected anger towards the recipients of these programs. They are basically told they are ‘entitled’ to them. So why be surprized or upset when they develop additudes of entitlement towards these programs? This is what they were TRAINED to do.

I can’t speak to the church and the welfare state as I know nothing about the subject. But I know quite a bit about people, human nature, disfunction, government entitlement programs, homelessness, etc and can speak to those things.

How many of you reading this who think that 90-100% of the homeless can’t work and if offered a job for a day making $300 they would turn it down? What about other populations of ‘the disenfranchized’ or whatever term you prefer to use? How many are going to stare at the person confused and walk away because a days work is too much for them at that price, or they are so mentally ill they can’t even understand the nature of the conversation?

When the government pays people to not work, I think it’s crazy for people to expect them to work. If my job paid me to not work, I wouldn’t work (well I love my job so I would show up maybe 2 1/2 days a week and do the parts of the job I like the most) but if they paid me not to work, I would not work. And the gov’t pays millions of people NOT TO WORK. So why would they work?

The system is broken. Why blame people for taking advantage of free money? (I’m not saying that you, the OP, was doing so…just making a general point). So I feel there is a lot of misdirected animosity when it comes to those who live off the taxes of others. They are told it’s their RIGHT! They are told they are ENTITLED to that money, the goods, services, etc they receive! So why get angry at them for developing additudes of entitlement towards that money and those goods and services? That makes absolutely NO SENSE to me.

Sure, one can argue that they ‘shouldn’t’ think or behave that way. But that argument can be used against anyone for pretty much anything. The heart of the problem is not some poor schmuck homeless guy…the problem is GOVERNMENT.

God Bless,
Bill

I agree op. I know we have an obligation to the poor. I’ve been there. But I also believe any relationship is a two way street. **I would like to see a document on the obligations of the poor. ** What can the poor do for government, church, and society in thankfulness for their provision? What is their obligation to have a good work ethic, be diligent in improving the conditions for their family, and seeking employment to get off welfare? It does place a burden on every one struggling to pay for their own family, and having to pay for others.

I would love to see the Church really promote ADOPTION as a loving option! Several million couples each year cannot find a baby to adopt, because they are all being aborted. Adoption places them in thriving families, and ends the need for welfare. We adopted two children from teen moms. Our Birthmoms were then able to go to college. One is a nurse. The other is a school teacher. We have an open relationship, and it has been a wonderful option for all involved! Our children got to live! We got to be parents! The Birth Parents were able to grow into adulthood, enjoy careers, marry, and purchase homes before having more children! WIN, WIN, WIN. :extrahappy:

Excellent point Bill.

Why don’t you compose a thoughtful letter/guest opinion in response? You could point out how much California’s crushing taxes have hurt the poor and working class. You could also point out that state socialism always turns out severely anti-Catholic.

This is basically exactly what I advocate as an alternative to our current entitlement programs. There could be a public housing building with 20 single mothers with children all living there in different apartments. A few of them could be trained in how to run a day care center by some worker. Several more could babysit the other mothers kids so those mothers can go out and work, or go to school, or go to job training, or volunteer, you get the general idea. And then the one’s that went out to work or to school could ‘graduate’ and be self sufficient and new welfare mothers could move in and babysit the babies of the mom’s who did the babysitting before so they could go work, or get education/job training, volunteer, etc…

Essentially entitlement benefits should be ‘tied’ to one or more things the recipients are doing to help themselves and society. The one’s who can literally do nothing to help themselves are very, very few and far between…like those in psych hospitals. But most only spend a short time there and then go back to group homes. In the group homes they could be much stricter with the rules, attend these meetings, do your chores, take you turns cooking dinner, etc… or go live on the streets and open up a bed for someone who actually wants to help themself and will appreciate having a home to live in with staff working there to help them with their issues and to work on goals towards greater independence with them. The system has changed a little towards this way in the past few years (economic crisis) but staff did everything for these folks for decades and decades despite their level of ability to learn and practice skills.

With the homeless- volunteer at the shelter, volunteer somewhere as a way to start building a resume if you can’t get a paying job. A progressive discipline policy that addresses drug and alcohol abuse as this is a primary problem with the homeless as a group overall. Very few are light social drinkers, non drinkers, etc. And there needs to be time limits on how long these folks can live there for free. There are people who have been collecting gov’t checks each month and living in homeless shelters for YEARS.

It would be easy to make these changes if only the government were willing. They are not, conservative nor liberal, none of them touch these things to make real changes. And everyone but government suffers as a result. What else is new?

Thanks Regina Love,

And just to be clear…I’m not suggesting the gov’t start paying people 50K for working at McDonald’s or whatever…I’m simply pointing out many, many more are ABLE to work who choose not to because of simple economic reasons. They get enough money and other goods and services (apartments, food stamps, etc) so that the jobs that they CAN get are not worth it to them. Why work for 8 bucks/hr when your getting 15/hr to sit home and watch TV? Makes no sense.

But the gov’t could change these programs and MAKE these people work, volunteer, go to school or job training…or the one’s more impaired (severly impaired)…make them go to classes about how to do laundry, cook, clean, organize, engage in conversations, etc. They do this sort of thing in psych hospitals to a degree (they go to groups to process things like anger group or mens group or whatever)…when they get out they can take the next steps, whatever those may be…as a condition to continuing to receiving free money, free housing, free food, free medical care, etc, etc… and a system could be worked out where people could move up and down different levels so if they are having a bad week they don’t automatically get kicked to the curb…but if people had more priveledges the better they did, this would further encourage people working to be self-sufficient. And those that bucked the system…maybe they live in a kind of ****** house with minimal stuff there. This is the way it works for you and me, isn’t it? I live in a small apt I can’t afford while many of you probably live in big houses… so why should it be different for people who are getting gov’t money and stuff for FREE?

And the one’s doing very well, or who learn to do very well…they could actually work at the places where some of these folks lived…they would serve as great role models, could encourage the people living there…and would have jobs. They could then go on to better jobs and others could take their place. I’m no genius but I’m sure that we could severely improve on the way we deal with those who have financial needs and get them from tas money. Maybe the first 3 months you don’t have to do anything if it’s your first time, or first time in 15 years…as a way to provide an actual ‘safety net’ for those who temporarilly fall on bad times…but at a certain point everyone (or almost everyone) should be expected to contribute.

As it stands now, when poeple enter homeless shelters there are counselors there all too willing to help them apply for disability rather than directing them to job training program A or B.

God Bless,
Bill

LOL they made you start buying a license to fish for food in many places and some entire countries (germany).

“welfare state”? The problem is not the welfare like you pointed out it is the way our government is handling finances. They pocket all your money and tell you to work harder and for less money! Overtime? Cough it up. “Gotta get a 2 million dollar yacht rental for my kids birthday next month I hope citizens work a lot of overtime this year.”

IDK if that’s how it works everywhere maybe I’ve just been in Michigan for too long!

We all know who runs the world. Your tax money seems like it goes to the criminal “justice” system more than it goes to schools and welfare. Our police question whether or not they even make a real difference (I have talked to some of them about this). It has become a racket.

I think I’m about done complaining about it. We were warned about it anyways. At least they are not trying to get rid of welfare. I don’t feel like the people should have to worry about getting robbed and/or killed more than they already have to.

Getting Section housing is almost impossible the list is a mile long. I know people that get less than 200 a month for food and no other assistance. I knew people that get no money from the gvt and are homeless.

Good thing is priority goes to families. Bad thing is people keep playing up this stereotype that people will have more kids to get more money. Extra couple thousand a year from the gvt will not make up for 10s of thousands the kids will cost. People do joke about it but it shouldn’t be taken seriously.

If they can get disability they DESERVE IT do you know how hard it is to get disability for most people? It takes years. Well IDK about where you live though I have to assume some states are more advanced.

Most people that are homeless would have gotten a job if they could. They have things that prevent them from getting a job. Criminal record/physically incapable of labor jobs cant get a desk job/extreme bad luck/ bad job history…the list goes on. Society is judgmental and doesn’t care to help as much as you might think. ESPECIALLY in areas of poverty.

I don’t care about politics because they are a scam. I do care about the future of the country though. There is two versions of reality - what it should be like and what it is like.
There are two versions of a politician - what they say they will do and what they will do. What is the point? We need more options. Red pill or blue pill? Both are going to mess your world all up what is the point.

I agree about adoption. Disagree about your feelings on welfare. I think we should not allow companies to lobby and give kickbacks. I think we should give that money to the poor regardless of their situation or our judgment of them. If we put an end to that we would save money across the board from schools to hospitals to military to police… every institution. Then once people in poverty can go to school without a gun we can reduce the cost of “rehabilitating them” for getting caught. I also think we should pay people to read AND understand the gospel but I guess that’s why I’ll never be rich.

FYI I am formerly homeless and grew up in a house where I was physically, sexually, emotionally abused. Emotionally neglected, suffered emotional incest, verbal abuse (that was so common it’s almost not worth mentioning). So I understand first hand the challenges people like the homeless face. I left my parents house so I could go to a place where I could learn how ot live like an adult. You see, all those skills and stuff most people learn ages 2-16 or so…I didn’t… and on top of it I was being abused and going deeper and deeper into a shell to hide from the world. I wound up being a basket case.

And yes, it’s harder to get section 8 now, but at least in my state, that is because they handed them out like pigs 15 years ago rather than making people wait a little longer. If you were homeless you were catagory 1 priority and got a section 8 in less than 6 months. If you had another thing that gave you special status you got it even quicker.

I live in MA, a very liberal state. There are TONS of people on the dole here. Ton’s of ppl who have apt’s and pay like 100/month for when you can’t even get an apt in the very, very worst sections of Boston for less than 900 for a 1BR, and you would have to really HUNT for that.

It takes 6 months to get disability from the day you apply, assuming you have an open and shut case. My father is disabled and got it in 6 months. He has serious back and heart problems.

I don’t care about politics either. I care about helping people. And in my experience (living as a homeless person and working in the system for 20 years) the gov’t does a TERRIBLE job at ‘helping’ the less fortunate.

I’m against entitlement programs. They encourage dependency. Since we are #1 on the list of countries in debt maybe it’s time to pay a tiny bit more attn to our money.

Homeless main issue is alcohol and drugs. Mental Illness untreated is another. I had both, (although I was 2 months sober before I left my parents house to move into a shelter to get help), still have one (mental illness- I take 5 different psychiatric medications and have PTSD from childhood… but when I showed up at the shelter and they told me they could help me get on disability…I told them I wanted to work. And I did, and have been ever since.

I made a post last night inviting anyone to come to Boston, MA and I will take a few days off work and we can go stay in the homeless shelters while I provide you with a real education about what the system is like. I have no desire to do this as staying in shelters is not fun, but am willing to do so if it will educate a liberal about the waste in the system. Care to take me up on that offer?

And before you say it I know kickbacks are “illegal”. There are a large number of loopholes that are systematically exploited. These loopholes are in no way illegal.

And for more clarity : I don’t think we should lock these politicians up. The ones who steal legally or illegally. I think we should get them out of office and prevent others like them from getting into office. I don’t mean by running a “thorough background check” on them either.

Another place the system really fails, the way they handle giving out entitlements to the non working poor compared to the working poor.

You see, for the non working poor their ‘income’ might be 10K/yr the way they figure it. But they don’t count as income the 10K they get that subsidizes their apartment. Or the 6K/yr they get for free medical care, or the 2K/yr they get for food stamps, or the 1K/yr they get at discounted mass transit.

So for a non working poor person their real income is 29K

Now a working poor person might make 24K and have to pay 6K/yr in medical expenses (they don’t get to deduct this when figuring their income to see if they are eligible) So their real income is 18K and they get no help while the other person supposedly only gets 10K/yr so gets every entitlement available… Even if the working person made 34K, they are still ‘worse off’ than the non working person because they pay for their health insurance…plus they don’t get the FREE, 52 WEEK PER YEAR PAID VACATION.

Time to wake up and realize the system is very screwed up. Come stay in a homeless shelter with me…we can start the last day of the month in the winter so you can see when the 1st comes around…and all the homeless get their SSI checks they DISAPPEAR from the shelter…because they are out spending that whole check on DRUGS. Then they come back around the 4th, broke, begging or stealing for the rest of the month.

You call that HELP?

I wish I could as I am in Michigan I can not. I wish I could take you to some in Detroit though. I have only been outside of them but I used to encounter homeless on a daily basis. Some of them very smart obviously just left behind. Maybe that is part of where our different perspectives come from I suspected that because I have read your posts which I normally enjoy and I was already aware of most of what you just said.

Here politicians steal money like every1 is blind and every once in a while throw up a scapegoat for good measure. I tend to focus more on that.

Our poor people are completely screwed over I have nothing but sympathy. Sympathy is something that barely still exists in the city because it can get you killed. At the very least it will get you robbed. I think it is time to focus the attention on where all our money is going before we focus on how to re arrange it.

To give you a little insight on my perspective if you haven’t already read my other post: My best friend was killed by a 15 year old and his mom. He saw the 15 year old was about to get jumped, told the boys about to get jumped that he had warrants and to not do it (this was just to front them off, he really just didn’t want the kid to get jumped). They punched the boy one time. He told his mom. His mom gave him a gun and drove him to shoot into a crowd. He missed his targets and hit the only person I’ve ever been able to trust in the head. This also happens to be the same one that stopped him from getting jumped. The rest is in this article wchbnewsdetroit.com/3491/mom-helped-son-get-to-gun-worthy-says/ . They forget to mention he was holding the door for everyone else which is what got him hit (not to mention satan whispering to someone to tell him to “check his surroundings” which is obviously useless by the time the 4th shot is coming out of the barrel). I’m not mad. It was time for his harvest he had true faith. His faith became even stronger before he was harvested. I was mad for a long time until I improved my own faith.

The police took 15 minutes to catch the killers the ambulance took 1 hour to arrive. It would have taken the police a lot longer if it wasn’t on a main street. The nearest hospital was roughly 10 minutes away. He might have survived if it didn’t take that long. The same people that created the messed up laws are now profiting from the killers’ incarceration. The moms children will grow up without her guidance, the son will get out and have kids who will grow up without his because he is going to be a product of the system. I do not blame any of them if they get hooked on drugs and need free housing and some food. I’m sure kwamee kipatrick can spare a room at the mansion. He’s a scapegoat, imagine what the other players are getting away with every single year!’

This is not the only victim I have seen no far from it. This is just the closest to my heart.

So I do not judge them for their weakness. In the same way if you were too weak to climb out of your hole I would not have judged you. I have been plenty weak myself almost all of the time. We all have been.

Where you live it is very different. Your numbers are outrageous here. And I do not blame them for spending it on drugs. I would prefer to help them than judge them. Our failure as a society is the reason they are waiting for the 1st or 3rd or 5th so they can kill themselves to feel good for a while. Our criminal justice system blatantly promotes the drug game it is insulting to all of our intelligence. They get paid bringing it in and get paid for locking people up for having it. Rehab is a complete joke.

Also you must be familiar with how much of that goes to child support. Their whole check will never go to drugs normally a fraction. Many of them get warrants on them for child support! This is not their failure. To break the cycle you have to help people and never judge them. It is like if someone needs surgery giving them a band aide and a painkiller and telling them it will be ok just got home. Then when they die you tell everyone they must have not been doing what you told them to do.

I know rehab does help some people what I am saying is it is inadequate for most that don’t have a lot of money. Why don’t we let the homeless get a couple cycles in at a rich man’s rehab? What if he was born rich? Why should he be better off than a man born poor? Why should he be so greedy he won’t allow society to fix it’s problems because his family would lose power and influence? To protect society from the other greedy rich people duh! that’s how they justify it. the sad thing is speaking strategically that might be the best move for all of us in many instances.

When I was unemployed I was married with a kid. I got 500 a month for food and that’s it. To get 100 cash a week I could sign up for a jobs program but it’s easy to see how that is not an option for everyone when you have to spend 5 days a week 9-3.

So I scraped by until I was lucky enough to get a job that most homeless people would not be able to work at especially if they are over 30.

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