Buridan’s Ass

I mean donkey.  I can often see both sides of an issue.  I am often paralyzed by tough issues because I see so clearly multiple perspectives.  Here is an example.

There was an article in our local paper on October 20th about Schwarzenegger eliminating from the state budget a subsidy for child care.  Here is the article if you care to read it.

This is not an original dilemma, but the thought in my mind was two fold.

Thought 1.  Why did the woman pictured have that 3rd child?  Why is she asking the tax payers to help her raise it?  Aren’t subsidies for child care an incentive to have kids that you can’t afford?

Thought 2.  These kids should have the best care that is available to them.  I think my Lord has called me to help take care of the poor.  How dare I have these heartless thoughts about the least of these?  Take care of the poor is the most frequent theme in the whole bible, is thought 1 consistent with being a Christian?

The Tytler Cycle comes to mind when it comes to thought 1.

Is anyone not paralyzed when it comes to tax payers helping the poor?

3 thoughts on “Buridan’s Ass

  1. Scott

    As I see it, it’s about personal responsibility. Yes, we should all be careful about bringing about more mouths to feed, but things do happen beyond our control. For those people (and those that simply act foolishly), someone will need to give generously. However, I don’t believe it’s the job of the government to force others to “give generously”. It needs to be voluntary, and biblically speaking, it ought to be the role of the church to serve their community in that way.

    For those on the receiving end that are also in need of those “teaching moments”, a faceless subsidy will only be a band-aid. The only true life-change will come from a community that invests their money AND time. It’s more personal, and it’s not as likely to encourage foolish behavior.

  2. Eric

    Interesting conundrum. Personal responsibility is a complex problem. I think most of us don’t really want it – we want personal freedom without having to deal with the consequences of our mistakes or poor choices (I certainly include myself). It does seem, though, that we are more likely to see the need for taking personal responsibility in others, and especially the poor, than in ourselves or our peers.

    For [a politically sensitive] example, many displaced by hurricane Katrina want to rebuild their homes in the same flood-prone below-sea-level area, insisting that it’s the responsibility of the government to take steps to make that possible by building bigger and better levees. Here in New England, we’re spending millions of dollars to dredge sand and rebuild eroding beaches to save homes that were built too close to the ocean. In LA, you have luxury homes built in the chaparral, land which naturally burned off every 10 years or so until it was developed; now homeowners expect to be protected from wildfires and if the homes are destroyed, they expect insurance or the government to pay the cost of rebuilding. We want to do what we want to do, but if anything goes wrong, it must be someone else’s responsibility.

    Jason, you wrote back in July about teaching your children personal responsibility through recycling/earning & saving money. I hope I’ve done as well with my daughter. As she has grown older (and as, I hope, was appropriate), I have tried not to shield her from the consequences of her choices. But if she finds herself in real need someday when I’m not around to help, I pray that someone will be there.

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