Compassion and Politics

Political parties use compassion as a talking point, but they are not about compassion.  They are about power and votes. Money, votes and power go to people who can put and keep other people in their debt. Power is about the person seeking it, true compassion is about the person receiving it.

The goal of compassion is to teach others how to end their dependency on your help. The old adage says it is better to teach someone to fish than to give them a fish.  In the long run this is true.  In the short run, they may need to be given some fish but only long enough to learn to care for themselves. By teaching someone to fish, you let them learn to stand on their own and become self-sufficient. 

Compassion is something I show to another person.  It is the fruit of my labor and efforts.  If I make you do something for someone else, I am directing you to show compassion, instead of being compassionate myself.  Studies have shown that the level of personal charity is inversely related to the tax rate.  The slogan “I gave at the office” applies here.  When people feel that they have paid enough in taxes to provide help for others, they stop giving to charity on their own.

When a wealthy person goes into politics to “help people” by using other people’s money, something is happening that is neither charitable or compassionate.  What a politician does with his money can be charity.  What he does with mine is vote-buying, or assuaging his guilt, or something else about him.  It is not compassionate or charitable, and it is not about the people being “helped”.

The Democratic party of the 1940’s and 1950’s was largely a working-man’s party.  The combination of decent public schools and the G.I. Bill’s options for college education for military veterans gave people a way to get out of the lower middle class and attain a higher level of income.  Unfortunately, for the Democrats, many of these newly wealthier people stopped voting for Democrats.

The Democrats have solved the problem of ungrateful people by creating two groups of locked in voters. They are the people who “need help” and the people who provide that help. In order to keep that going, the politicians have to make sure that “they will always have the poor with them.”

They do this by their indifference to the quality of the schools.  The per student cost of the Newark, New Jersey schools is now over 22 thousand dollars per year but only a third of the students graduate.  The money goes for increasing teacher benefits and an ever-increasing school bureaucracy. This provides money for the teachers and their unions. Some of that comes back to the politicians as campaign contributions.  More importantly, it creates a bunch of people in the education business who need to keep friendly politicians in control to keep their income and benefits.

One example of the choices made by the Democrats on education occurred in Washington, DC as soon as the Obama administration and the new heavily Democratic Congress came to power in January, 2009. While the Obamas were finding a good, and expensive, private school for their daughters, the Congress, at the urging of the teachers unions, were ending a program which helped poor children get out of the dysfunctional DC schools and into better private schools.

Another way to keep people poor is to give them a relatively high level of benefits when they are not working and making it economically impossible for employers to give people lower paying entry-level jobs so they can start the climb up the ladder.

Employers need to get more in revenue for the efforts of an employee than they pay that employee. The minimum wage doesn’t make the employee more valuable, it just makes him more expensive.  If an employee adds six dollars an hour to the employers revenue, a minimum wage of seven dollars an hour means the employer loses money.  The minimum wage means no one hires the person..

From the workers standpoint, he has to net more after taxes than he can get in either unemployment or welfare benefits (including food stamps and health care) or it is costing him money to take a job.

Currently the unemployment rate for young black men is about 50 per cent. The combination of bad schools, the welfare system and the minimum wage all contribute to this.  A political party that had compassion for people would work to change this situation.  But, it is a political reality that the current system and the people employed in schools and the welfare system give the Democratic party a base of support.

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