Ropes & Ladders
In a free society, such as the USA with its covenantal form of representative democracy, the powerful "movers and shakers"...whether politicians or just citizens...will often use devious means to influence the citizenry. One of those means is to control & use the power of "government" to assure future votes in their behalf through lifting people up too high on ropes of provision.
I love this saying: "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime" [discussion, HERE].
It is incredibly important that a person live a life of realistic TRUTH about their own good (positive) characteristics and their own bad (negative) characteristics and NOT live in a state of denial of their deficient or bad points or characteristics. Similarly, they need a solid idea of how relatively good or bad they "have it" within their family, community, state, and nation compared to other such entities around the world & throughout history. As the 2016 presidential race unfolded, it finally seemed to me that America's choice was roughly between the following. But, first, what really counts as being "kind", "compassionate", or "empathetic": supporting policies that...in the end...FEEL good?...Or supporting policies that actually DO good? [ about "feel good" vs "do good" in a neat 5 minute video]. Those who live in denial of their own bad points are much more likely to be drawn into positions that make them FEEL good about themselves...whether or not any good is actually done (seeing through rose-colored glasses).
There is risk in (1) doing nothing, (2) grabbing a rope(s), or (3) stepping onto a ladder(s). In my opinion, it makes a huge difference in longterm societal freedom and mobility of networks of friends & contacts & social class if the recipient of ropes or ladders has "skin in the game"...that is, whether the recipient stands to lose anything or not if they don't actually use the rope or ladder to make progress in life. "Skin in the game" causes a person to concentrate and focus on the purpose of what they seek to accomplish. All human societies and nations have social classes. But, (1) class mobility is impossible in most countries and (2) is most freely possible...(not a right or a guarantee) in the USA.
RECONCILIATION: I also think some organized attention needs to be paid to those who have marred their records with negative periods or criminal activity but (1) have "done their time" and (2) TRULY WANT to be part of our law-abiding society. They already have ropes available but need fewer obstacles in our society to getting access to the "ladders of opportunity" & likely even some coaching, if they are (or can become) deserving.
- The lift-up ROPES of support: This leans more in the direction of giving a man a fish for a day...and another day...and another day. ["Ropes" are actively dangled down and/or handed out and may even have the effect of entrapment; you are either held by the rope or are off of the rope. Ropes are more "all or none".]
- Private sector: Parents (see parental HELP), churches, private schools, private jobs offer "ropes" lifting the recipient toward a better life as long as the recipient's personal performance shows progress toward the goal of betterment. They cannot be manipulated by threats of loss of federal manipulative funding because the funds come from people who actually KNOW them & willingly donate. HOWEVER, as an experiment to back the Pilgims to America about 1620, socialism failed (short story, HERE).
- Public sector: There were no USA government handouts until AFTER The Great Depression of the early 1930s. As with the private sector, joining the military represents a "rope up" possibly to a better life with "skin in the game" if you can qualify to join (military service can lead to ladders of opportunity). Public education has now become so subject to political manipulation that whole schools are held hostage for fear of losing federal funding. Medicaid, WICK, CHIPS, Welfare, SSDI, etc., government programs are notoriously easy to "game" and abuse because the money comes from the faceless, huge basket of money called "tax collections" which governments EXTRACT from people (including foreign tourists & illegals). Therefore, these programs are NOT FREE (and government workers are notoriously terribly POOR at detecting gaming & scamming). People in denial of their own flaws tend to be drawn to the idea of being lifted up by ropes. These "ropes" tend to lift the recipient up high enough that they dare not "let go" and try to transition into jobs and marriages for fear of being "dropped" from such a height. Thus, a political party can create large voting blocks of support from those millions suspended by "ropes" if the party keeps promising the "handouts" [continued safe suspension by the ropes]. At least one prominent black commentator who HAD been suspended for years by government ropes calls this being "on Uncle Sam's Plantation".
The LADDERS of Opportunity: This leans much more like teaching a man to fish and he can feed himself for life. ["Ladders"...stepping stones...are more passively there & must be sought after by the recipient & with the foreknowledge that recipient must perform...have "skin in the game"...in order to stay in the game on the ladder. Recipient can also stay on any rung of the ladder, move down or up a rung or two or step off of the ladder at any time. Ladders and "fairness", HERE. Realists are drawn to the ladders approach.] [PEOPLE EXAMPLES HERE]
- Private sector: Parents (see parental HELP), private schools/education, getting jobs with chances for promotion (or for even gaining knowledge to open one's own business) are all examples of ladders providers in a free market society. In this sense, free market entrepreneurs (even if they become billionaires) are extremely charitable in that their ideas create jobs and products that benefit millions. In every respect, there is ongoing competition requiring constant honing of skills & interpersonal networks. Sometimes it is just Divine intervention as with Kenyan street kid Carl Mully. But, when structured in a socialistic or communistic way, failure ensues, HERE.
- Public sector: Public schools/education, joining the military, etc., finds an array of ladders. Jobs with government and educational systems often find the recipient protected by union protection or "tenure" so that there is little or no threat of losing the "ladder" rung for failure to perform...therefore, performance skills are not honed & interpersonal networks not that important and opportunities to rise further not sought for fear of losing the place on that "step" of the ladder.
BUT, for any number of reasons (but basically due to the "fallenness" of mankind), people often fail to take advantage of ropes or ladders. Especially in the ladders category, ladders are almost always not equally available to any and all...the USA ladders system component does not always have equal access to all ladders (discussed excellently, HERE [a Thomas Frank...he is an American political analyst and historian...Oct. 2016 opinion piece, "Forget the FBI cache; the Podesta emails show how America is run"]). Finally, the Bible warns against laziness & not working somehow...to the extent that you actually can...because it hurts the lazy person most, HERE.
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25 October 2016; latest update 14 September 2017)