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Clarity on Character Development

One of the fundamental confusions of the day is the assertion of rights that are not rights but are in reality the responsibility of the individual.  A classic example of this is food.  The liberal thinks everyone has a right to be given food to live.  Thus, we have welfare and food stamps (which may have a place as a safety net, but safety nets are not to be hammocks we depend upon for long term provision).  In sharp contrast, God says point blank, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this:  If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”  (2 Thessalonians 3:10 [NKJV])  It doesn’t matter how you feel about it, or if you’re hungry.  You want to eat, you work for it.  In the Old Testament economy, the welfare of the poor in Israel was provided for by the process of gleaning (e.g., Leviticus 19:9-10) whereby said poor had to work for their food.  Sob stories notwithstanding, there is no right to food.

Radio talk-show host Dennis Prager provides us some of his usual clarity with some thoughts on character development as evidenced in the worldviews of the alleged progressive (where is the progress in keeping people in a childish, selfish state rather than maturing/progressing to a responsible state?) versus the conservative (emphases added):

What entitlements do, and what the transformation of entitlements into rights does, is create a citizenry that increasingly lacks the most important character trait — gratitude. Of all the characteristics needed for both a happy and morally decent life, none surpasses gratitude. Grateful people are happier, and grateful people are more morally decent. That is why we teach our children to say ‘thank you.’ But the welfare state undoes that. One does not express thanks for a right. So, instead of ‘thank you,’ the citizen of the welfare state is taught to say, ‘What more can I get?’ Yet, while producing increasingly selfish people, the mantra of the left, and therefore of the universities and the media, has been for generations that capitalism and the free market, not the welfare state, produces selfish people. They succeed in part because demonizing conservatives and their values is a left-wing art. But the truth is that capitalism and the free market produce less selfish people. Teaching people to work hard and take care of themselves (and others) produces a less, not a more, selfish citizen. Capitalism teaches people to work harder; the welfare state teaches people to want harder. Which is better?

Which is better indeed?

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