Friday, February 26, 2016

Helping the Poor By Helping Them Work

Many of us think of our duty to the poor (when we think of it at all) as being charitable donations. We will use our resources to maximize our income, and then out of that income, we will share the excess.

However, we know that living on the dole undermines a person's self-esteem. If our behavior is effectively saying, "You can't be trusted with the means of production because you suck at producing, so you just sit over there and wait until I do all the producing necessary," we keep the poor alive but in a demeaned state.

When we impart of our substance to help the poor, it should be with an eye to helping the poor work, not just donations after maximizing profit. What would this look like? Well, it could mean less-efficient production because the poor have been included in the process. The end result might be the same, efficiency-wise, as ultra-efficient production with charitable donations afterwards, but the self-estimation of the poor will be increased.

Think about how we sometimes do jobs around the house in slow, inefficient ways because our kids want to help. Why do we do it? Because we care about them as people, not just as obligations.

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