King on Poverty

Martin Luther King JrThe curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.

—Martin Luther King Jr
Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?

4 thoughts on “King on Poverty

  1. I’m all for helping those who TRULY need help. Dr. King’s remark, "…they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them…" is very close to the scripture in 2 Thessalonians 3:1, which I’m sure the Rev. Dr. King was quite familiar with. To paraphrase the scripture, 2 Thessalonians 3:1, ‘those who will not work [SHALL] not eat’. Obvioously, the physically/mentally disabled are excluded from this. My problems with entitlements are 1) the absuse of the assistance and 2) the corruption…not just at the governmental level, but also at the recipient level. Numerous scams involving welfare checks, AFDC/WIC and other programs in which the recipient(s) "swap", "pool", and/or sell the vouchers for profit. We have that problem in my state. What REALLY kills me is that those who keep supporting more entitlements for more people don’t seem to understand that, the more people on the government (taxpayer) program who are abusing the privilege, the LESS money for those who TRULY need and deserve the assistance. I worry that this rush to raise taxes (many of whom proclaim the revenue for entitlement programs) will only result in greater abuse and less money for the truly deserving. (Just my two cents……..$0.8356295 when adjusted for inflation and the devaluing of the American dollar.)

  2. @ThrashMikki – I think fraud has been largely worked out of the system. Welfare is hardly the gravy train it once was. (That’s hyperbolic: there was never a gravy train, never a "welfare queen in a Cadillac.") But let’s be clear: conservatives do [i]not[/i] want to make these problems work better. They want to destroy them. You know: drown them in a bathtub.

    I’m not clear who the deserving and non-deserving are. The only real issue in my mind is incentives. You don’t want to give incentives to live on welfare to people who can contribute. But our society doesn’t seem to care about this. We force plenty of productive members of society to sit in cages because of the "crime" of cannabis possession. I could go on, of course. And on and on and on.

    I would add that in a society in which people who want jobs can’t simply have one, the situation is a bit more complicated. This is not tribal culture where land is free and you can hunt and gather what you need. All land is owned by someone. And if you own no land, it is all owned by someone else. I think I am more extreme than most liberals: I think a government program that gives a minimum wage job to anyone who wants one is a good idea. See [i]My Man Godfrey[/i] for what it means to have a job for just about any man. (Yes, I did just reference a bit of Depression agitprop!) People crave the dignity of work. It is wrong to claim that the unemployed as loafers but then not provide them the opportunities to work.

    As much as I like this quotation, I thought about not putting it up because of the very fanciful cannibalism statement. But I think it works as a poetical flourish. (Are you sure it is [i]2 Thessalonians[/i] 3:1?)

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