Yesterday, my assistant and I had a conversation about charity. She and one of my clients have been fairly involved in a charity where they donate clothing and educational items to Appalachia.
I've contributed to this charity in the past but, in all honesty, I've really started to wonder why we continue to support people who live in a place where the economy is so depressed and has been for generations. Instead of giving these people the ability to subsist in such a poor area, shouldn't we be helping them by giving them moving vans and rent to places where job and educational opportunities actually exist?
But Gordon, you're asking people to uproot their families and abandon their culture.
Yes, I am.
Why shouldn't they? In the Lovely Mrs. Gekko's family, there are ten kids who were born and raised in Warren/Youngstown, Ohio; not exactly the hot bed of economic activity. Today only one kid still lives in the area; five have moved to the Cincinnati area, two to Chicago, one to Seattle, one to West Virginia.
In my family, our five kids live in Cincinnati, Charlotte, Reno and two still live in the Lancaster area.
In most of these cases, we left our homes not because we we're dying to leave our birth places but because that's where the job and/or education opportunities took us.
It really came home to roost when one of our family members lost their job recently. The Lovely Mrs. Gekko asked me if we should help out in some way and my quote was "Of course we should. We're conservatives. That's what we do".
Fortunately, this family member has since found another job but it might mean a relocation.
But I can't help but wonder, why don't we all kick in and give this family enough money so they can maintain their lifestyle in the area in which they live? Why should they be forced to relocate if they love the area where they currently reside?
What if someone is unemployed in Chicago but there's a job in Alabama waiting for them, should they be forced to take it or should we all pony up and subsidize their current lifestyle so they don't have to move?
Of course, it sounds ridiculous on it's face. But isn't that what we're doing to the poor in this country? Isn't that what we're doing to the people in Appalachia? What about the poor in our ghettos?
On Thanksgiving, there were probably well over 50,000 meals delivered from various charities to the poor in this area. My church donated over 6000 meals for our outreach. That's in addition to all the other charities and/or government programs being delivered to the poor in this area.
In our Over the Rhine area, there are currently over 100 different organizations to help the poor in an area that probably doesn't have but 20,000 residents at most.
Are we not perpetuating poverty by supporting it? What's the motivation for people to get up and struggle and aspire for more when the basics are being handled?
I am a God fearing man so I know my generosity is about my growth and not on the people who receive it. None the less, as I see people bitching about continued unemployment benefits after 99 weeks, I can't help but wonder if our charitable nature isn't counter productive.