Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Deserving Poor

The Salvation Army Has Got It Right

Christians talk about helping the deserving poor.  It is true that such a qualification as "deserving" can cover up an awful lot of unkindness, coldness and uncharitable hardness of heart.  You can always find some reason or other as to why someone is not deserving of help.

Nevertheless, when not employed as a pretext for hardness of heart, the concept is helpful.  There are plenty people who believe they are owed charity by everyone else.  It is their right to get support from other people. Their job, if they think of themselves as having one, is to extract money from other people to sustain them. Deserving poor people are not like that.  They do not particularly appreciate being dependant upon others.  They strive as best they can to better the circumstances of themselves and their families so that they are not a burden upon others.  In other words, the deserving poor are those who are doing the best they can to be self-supporting.

It goes without saying that state welfare is built upon concept that welfare provision is a duty of everyone else, and a right of the recipient.  It proceeds on the idea that society "owes" me and that I have a human right to their support.
  The present government has realised the long term devastation such ideas wreak and has introduced the radical principle that state welfare is not automatic.  It requires duties to be done and obligations to be met.  The obligations are centred around activities and opportunities to take responsibility to get off welfare.  These are steps in the right direction.  However, it is true that if there were not "rights based" welfare in New Zealand, almost all the poor would be deserving poor.  The welfare bludger would be rare indeed.

Stuff ran a piece on a welfare bludger and a Christian charity that refused to help because she failed to belong to the category of the deserving poor. 
An Invercargill couple say their six young kids will go without on Christmas day and it's the Salvation Army's fault.  However, the Salvation Army says the parents are to blame for their family's predicament because they have relied on handouts rather than trying to help themselves.
Full marks to the Salvation Army on this one.  Here is the mother's sob story:
Shelly Edwards and Leo Hewett said their six children aged 3-10 will get no presents and have a diet of chicken and bread on Christmas day because the Salvation Army failed to help them in their time of need.  "How can we tell the kids there's nothing for Christmas?" Shelly asked from their south Invercargill state house yesterday.  Shelly said she was on the invalid's benefit and received a working for families benefit, while her partner was unemployed and seeking employment at the meatworks.Their weekly income was $631 but just $15 was left over after paying for their rent, bills, food and petrol.
The Salvation Army had helped them out last year with a Christmas hamper.  This year, however, when she approached the Salvation Army again she was told that she would not be eligible because she had failed to turn up to a budget advice meeting.   It turns out that she had been receiving help from the Salvation Army over a two year period, and when she had received more than three food parcels in one year, she fell into the category of being required to get budgeting advice if further assistance was to be forthcoming.

However, Shelly had not engaged with the budget advisory service so was not put on the adopt-a-family scheme, [Salvation Army staffer] King said. 
The Salvation Army's aim was for its clients to get to the point where they could look after themselves and be self sufficient.  "If we keep handing out we are enabling them to stay in the situation they are in. We aren't actually helping them at all in the long run."  Shelly and her partner had six children and they were responsible for them, King said.  "I have been in touch with her budget advisor and she assures me they do have money. Like everyone Shelly has known Christmas is coming."
According to Edwards, they are receiving $631 per week in welfare benefits.  One blogger, reviewing their circumstances, reckons that their estimate is way too low.  In fact they will be receiving more like $805 per week.
Incidentally I think their estimate of their income is low. I make it:
  • Invalids Benefit (couple rate) $217.75
  • JobSeeker (couple rate) $174.21
  • Family Tax Credits (for six kids) $414.00
So that is a total of $805.96 a week net, not $631. On top of that it is highly likely they get the accommodation supplement or a statehouse subsidized rent.  It would be nice if media did not just take for granted what people say they earn, but independently check their entitlements as I have done.
And on a more sinister note, he adds:

UPDATE: Assuming there are not two Shelley Edwards in Invercargill, it would seem the mother has convictions for fraud and dishonesty, and breaching home detention. The Judge commented:
You are a thoroughly dishonest woman
We are confident that this approach by the Salvation Army will be resulting in far more generosity by the people of Invercargill (where this incident took place).  The Sallies run a programme of matching businesses and donors with needy families.  When people realise that their support and help goes to the deserving poor, not the bludging poor, generosity abounds more and more.  And that's the way it should be. 

Nothing kills the wellspring of charity faster than a bludger playing the system. 


According to the Left, people like Shelly Edwards do not exist.  In Lefty World, no-one ever bludges, no-one ever plays the system.  In Lefty World sin also does not exist; it is merely a propaganda construct of the Right. 

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