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Web letter by Mike Leslie: Bible doesn’t endorse subsidizing ‘idle’ poor

In his letter “Stutzman treachery has biblical parallel” (Oct. 20), Thomas Sagendorf quotes a Bible parable to slam Rep. Marlin Stutzman’s support for reducing SNAP (food stamp) funding. Although Sagendorf is correct that the Bible charges us to care for the poor and needy, he completely misunderstands what that means in today’s world.

In Christ’s time, caring for the poor and needy meant keeping them from starving or freezing to death. During that time, able-bodied people worked as hard as they could just to survive. Most people had very little. The poor were unable to feed or clothe themselves generally due to handicaps (mental or physical) or events outside of their control – not because of an unwillingness to work. With some exceptions, the “poor” in our country are the wealthiest and fattest poor people who have every existed on this earth. They frequently have cellphones, computers, multiple sets of clothes and cars. Unfortunately, it is human nature to work no harder than required to achieve a level of “comfort” that satisfies an individual. The more a person’s “comfort” level is subsidized by others, the less that person feels the need to work for their own support. The Bible does not instruct us to care for those who are “poor” due to idleness; in fact, in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 the Apostle Paul instructs us that “those that do not work do not eat.”

This gets us to Stutzman’s “treacherous” actions. Stutzman’s SNAP reduction proposal would close loopholes, cut waste and eliminate fraud to save a paltry $30 billion over the next 10 years. I say paltry because the cost of SNAP is expected to grow to $760 billion over the same time period, so Stuzman’s treachery amounts to a reduction of only 3.9 percent. This is not nearly enough to stem the growth of this program and would be unlikely to have any effect on those who are truly needy. That is, if effort is actually applied to prevent fraud and abuse.

Sagendorf predicts that this SNAP reduction “will greatly increase the number of hungry/starving kids in our land.” This prediction is eerily similar to the doom-and-gloom predictions surrounding the welfare reform instituted under President Bill Clinton’s watch in the 1990s. If we recall, people seemed able to adapt to the new rules and move off welfare without a lot of trouble, much less a massive increase in starving children.

Sagendorf is correct in pointing out that the federal agriculture aid and subsidies may be unnecessary, but not because Stutzman is receiving them for his business. These should be examined as part of a complete analysis of the cost/benefit of all government programs. That is the only way we will get our massive government debt under control. If people would stop demonizing those who suggest even token reductions in spending, we might be able to get both parties together to agree on compromise changes that balance compassion, common sense and cost.


Fort Wayne