Re the Rev. Jim Watkins letter, "We've all been given a hand up," April 25:
Watkins may think of himself as a turtle on a fencepost, but I think most Americans would disagree with him. He states that everyone needs a hand now and then. Yes, we do. That is why we have a "safety net" in our country, to help people through an immediate and temporary crisis such as unemployment. It is not to promote a way of life where people live off the work of others because they refuse to work.
Let's look at Watkins' "help."
He went to a "government school" on the G.I. bill. His school was paid for by citizens paying taxes (state and federal). I received help buying my first home through the Veterans Administration. Like the Watkins, I gave five years of my life to the Army, working at lower pay ($24 per month) than that of civilians. But we earned our VA benefits. I, too, am on Medicare and paid into the system all my working life to receive these "benefits."
If President Lyndon B. Johnson did not release Medicare funds into the general fund to pay for the Vietnam war and the Great Society (to eliminate poverty), it would not be so close to bankruptcy today.
Let's correct some history.
The Constitution, which I also swore to uphold as a young officer, does not prohibit poor people from voting. Can Watkins name one other country in the world at that time which created a democratic republic?
He said Jesus was talking to "nations" at the sermon on the mount.
That is news to me. Maybe at the final judgment, nations will be judged and not individuals. How nice! Although we all have a "fallen nature" as the Founding Fathers knew (by the way, the Catholics had this teaching for 1,500 years before Calvin), God gave us the human ability to empathize and sympathize with people and provide the needy with help.
What Jim Hill and I are talking about is not temporary help but a "handout culture."
When I got out of the Army as a young liberal from Rutgers University, I became a social worker for New Jersey. What I saw were people who needed temporary help and those who were part of the "handout culture." I visited a home where a young, pregnant 16-year-old lived with her thirtysomething mother and fiftysomething grandmother in free housing; all of them were on welfare with free medical care.
Why work? Everyone sat around in a roach-infested apartment watching TV. Soon there were four generations living in squalor with no attempt to better themselves and no attempt to clean their place. Of course, no men were present until social workers went home.
Our country supports these folks, plus illegal immigrants along with their children and older parents who never paid into Social Security.
Jesus told us to give to the truly poor - the widows and orphans.
St. Paul told the early Christians to keep working because some were slacking off, thinking the end was near.
Nowhere in the Bible are we told to take care of lazy, slothful people, generation after generation.
Remember, sloth was one of the seven deadly sins. Never hear that in sermon anymore, do you?
Where is the pride, honor, self-respect and hard work that give people the impetus to get out of poverty? We should be teaching people how to fish and not just giving them fish for free, generation after generation. Those who refuse to work who are not ill or too old should be cut off from all taxpayer support.
The writer lives in North Myrtle Beach.