The left is very adamant about charity not coming “with a sermon.” It is most of their excuse for wanting government not churches to preach.
But while I understand the convinced Christian’s need to preach and to save everyone from hell, which if you believe it is an eternal sentence and an awful one is mere human decency, I don’t understand the left’s similar need to ensure that everyone lives “a decent life” by its lights.
They refuse to understand that just as people are entitled to disbelieve and deny eternal salvation (and if you’re a Christian you know they are entitled to that. It’s called free will. Just as they’re entitled to sin. Doesn’t make it right. They’re still entitled to it. You can’t force anyone to be holy) they can refuse to live a middle class life. (Or better. The left keeps imagining that middle class is much further up than it is. Possibly because so many of them these days are spoiled rich kids.)
This came to mind last night, thinking of someone in the comments (sorry, I don’t remember the name) who said that maybe 10% of the homeless were aggressive and dangers to themselves and others. Others simply were mentally ill or caught in the trap of child support but behaved like decent human beings.
The child support thing is iniquitous, and usually on both sides. No, seriously. Women on the make will drive a man to ruin to finance her lifestyle in the name of “the children.” Men on the make still find ways not to pay, and if the woman is decent and doesn’t want to turn her kids’ life into unending strife she ends up living in poverty to provide for the kid. I’ve known this on both sides, partly because it’s impossible for a judge to adjudicate fairly without truly knowing the parties involved. Partly because scammers gonna scam. (It’s almost like no-fault divorce and marriage as a transitory fancy is a bad idea particularly when there are children involved. Never mind.)
The mental health… I’m fairly sure there are still services available should someone need them and know how to look. And perhaps without the noise of the violent it would be easier for those people to find help.
But I still wonder if the mental health issues are such. And I wonder about other things like “but what if people just want to live like that?”
I have learned through rather bitter experience that you can’t help everyone and also that what you want for yourself and your life is not what other people want. Some people will do the absolute minimum to keep a roof over head and food on the table, even if the roof is leaky and substandard, and the food is whatever and they never do any house keeping and live in what can only be described as utter squalor.
I found long ago that given the absolute same income as someone else, we tend to live better. Why? because we work beyond the money we have. I don’t mean just that we work to get out of that level of poverty, I mean that we will trade time for the money we don’t have.
So, when my husband was the sole provider because my writing wasn’t selling yet, I made a lot of my clothes, refinished furniture and, of course, cooked absolutely everything from scratch. Other than our cars, which we always bought used and fully paid for and drove into the ground, we easily kept up with our dual income friends. Why? Well, not child care was part of it, but furniture, clothes and food were the other part. It’s just cheaper to do for yourself.
It was also a massive amount of work. Particularly since I was trying to break into writing, and was getting up every day at five am to write for two hours before the routine with the kids started. I remember years of being short on sleep and going to bed with a long list of work that still needed to be done and I hadn’t got to in my head.
Was it worth it? Well, it was for me. I don’t like living in squalor. I wanted nice furniture and a nice, clean house. And I wanted my kids to have good food.
All of which amounts to: it was for me. It might not be for someone else.
It took me forever to figure this out. Let’s say the dime only dropped in the last ten years. So, I kind of get the left not “getting” it.
Partly because if you come from a background where everyone worked a lot all the time to secure the best lifestyle they could, it’s almost impossible to visualize someone wanting to live in what we’d consider unacceptable circumstances. Or perhaps not even “wanting” as fundamentally not being willing to pay the price to get a better situation.
Look, I’m not even a hundred percent sure of that last one. We tried for decades with someone, and everything you gave that would bring a better life got either broken or ignored or thrown away. Perhaps there is a Petersonian thing there, of people believing they only deserve to live at a certain level and anything above that making them uncomfortable. (Peterson says in terms of people not taking necessary meds, etc, that having seen our own brokenness and that we’re often untruthful and evil — even when we don’t mean to be — we think we don’t deserve to be well, etc.)
Or perhaps it is simply that doing anything, even using the thing that makes it easier is too much effort.
I’ve said before that I think the vast majority of people don’t feel the need to work above a subsistence level and that those of us who do are the mutants. I still believe so. In evolutionary terms, if you continued hunting after you had mammoth in your cave, you were just going to deplete the game and end up starving eventually.
That’s not the way it works now, but the human brain is not a thing of the industrial revolution.
I believe a great number of the people who live in “chronic poverty” are in fact at the level at which they wish to be/the level for which they’re willing to work. The left keeps coming up with increasingly fancier explanations, which are now devolving to “invisible demons” of oppression (seriously, in our society? Besides, if societal disapproval caused you to be poor, then a lot of gay people would be historically poor, instead of statistically at the top.)
It never occurred to me that a lot of people who are “homeless” might fall into the same category. By which I mean the ones who aren’t crazy, addicted or dangerous to others. Maybe what they have and what they do is the level they wish to live at. Or at least it’s comfortable enough they don’t wish to do anything to get out of it. But it makes sense. After all, by the numbers, these people already live better than your average medieval peasant. At which point, honesty, my only problem with their choice is whatever help they get that is non voluntary, i.e. taxation, not private charity. If they’re living like that and it’s their choice, and they’re wholly financed by private charity? Don’t care. None of my business. Everyone has the right to go to hell in the way of their choice.
What disturbs me about the left’s inability to recognize that choice is that those choices end up being financed from my purse, and the purse of the others who choose to work. That they are in fact holding up a gun to the heads of working fathers and mothers and demanding money to keep people who (what was Occasional Cortex’s cutesy phrase, exactly, I can’t remember) “aren’t willing to work” in the level of comfort they are okay with.
And then the fact that those people aren’t living at what the left thinks American middle class level should be, in a decently ecologically approved house, with the car and the organic meals and full health insurance, the left will come back and demand more. More and more money to pour down the hole of trying to change people’s choice on what they consider an acceptable level of comfort and living. What they aren’t willing to work to get out of. What, in fact, they’ll preserve if they get more “help” by doing even less to help themselves.
That’s what I object to. I object to the use of people’s choices to blackmail other people out of theirs.
I object to this holy crusade of the left that turns anyone who has less than you into a de-facto saint who needs to be championed, while you need to be tormented because you worked (or your ancestors did) to get to a level you consider acceptable.
I object to this Christian heresy with no redemption, no hope, no future, and no one being good or holy except those who envy and live at the expense of others.
I don’t think there’s ever been a civilization as rich as ours, but even in rich civilizations of the past, there were people who lived at all levels. And though social motility was smaller or slower or hidden, it was possible. It could happen. It might take multiple generations and grim determination, but it happened. Just the same, there were any number of people who were satisfied once they reached the “we’re not starving” level and went no further.
There still are. In the infinite variety of humanity, what you consider comfortable I consider insupportable. And it’s not just poverty, either. I’d probably die if forced to live the life of a socialite, forever minding what people thought, and having to have the latest styles. I don’t want that. I’m not interested.
In the same way I suspect any number of the “poor” would think I was crazy, keeping the work hours I do, and taking time to refinish furniture, or clean, or… Because they don’t feel the need to it.
And that’s their right. They are entitled to live as they want and to do just the minimum to get there.
And the left is NOT entitled to use holy envy to make everyone who wants better and works for it to feel guilty. Nor are they entitled to rob us to finance the lifestyle of people who don’t want to make any extraordinary effort and feel fine the way they are.
And it’s time we stopped this nonsense.
You choose what you want to sacrifice for what. I will willingly sacrifice time and effort for a clean and decent house. You won’t because you place more value on time on the sofa watching your favorite program? You do you. Just don’t ask me for money to get you a better house.
You see what you want and you pay the price. And the do-gooders can go take a flying leap. As long as your hand isn’t in my pocket, I don’t care.