On January 30, two-time Republican Party presidential hopeful Mitt Romney nixed a third go-around, telling supporters via teleconference that he can better serve America by supporting whomever the party chooses as its 2016 presidential nominee. Hallelujah. A third Romney candidacy would have been difficult to stomach. Romney had floated a trial balloon of making “helping the poor” a major campaign platform plank. Perhaps Republicans see the absurdity of a man with a car elevator in one of his many homes preaching to America that we need to help the poor. More likely Republicans aren’t interested in making this position a priority.
The old and tired Romney show handily symbolizes not just the Republican Party, but politics and government in general. They’re all characterized by the old, stale ideas that have failed us time and again. And yet, many strongly considered trying them once more. That seems to be the best we can do with government: Watch failed policies rebranded with new faces every few years, rinse and repeat. This is not to say that other Republican (or Democrat) candidates will offer something more fresh or innovative. They won’t. The lesson to be learned here is that politicians don’t offer real answers to social ills.
But let’s not dismiss all of the issues bandied about by politicians, least of all their calls to help the poor. Just because we cannot take politicians seriously in such matters does not mean that these matters are never real or pressing. Let us instead recognize that neither Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, nor any other government figurehead or committee, can serve as a savior who will eliminate the conditions that lead to poverty.
For those of us who seriously doubt the ability of government to help those in need, the answer is not to simply strip people of every last vestige of support the government currently provides, thereby teaching everybody to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps.” Yet neither is the answer to provide more and more tax funding to such disastrous programs. To encourage people to continue counting on these bankrupt, unsustainable programs for their very survival is cruel. Further compounding that cruelty, such tax-funded failures create division and animosity between the “helper” and the “helped.”
The answer lies in the kind of social support network that many libertarians have been actively engaged in all the while as government continues its failed experiment. The libertarian’s method seeks to chip away at reliance on faceless bureaucrats for support, replacing them with localized, voluntary, and cooperative ventures and community organizing (not Barack Obama’s kind). Mutual understanding and respect between neighbors, being there for each other during tough times, makes for a more effective and genuine welfare system.
Forking over large portions of your paychecks to distant government agencies and expecting them to do the difficult work of shaping a vibrant community has not been and will never be successful. For those who believe this is mushy, pie-in-the-sky rhetoric, ask yourself: In a world of plentiful resources, do you truly desire to eliminate poverty? If so, will you continue counting on an ineffectual government to do the job, or will you help your neighbors the next time you see them in need? If you’re too busy to try, consider yourself part of the government catastrophe.