Why Do Poor People Need Cell Phones, Anyway?

poor person and cell phoneTypically, this question is posed with a bit of disdain because of opposition towards government programs that provide subsidies or any type of assistance for the poor. In fact, I recently saw this rather biased report that supposedly exposed the real conditions of the so-called poor. Some have TVs, microwaves and even cell phones. I think the sentiment behind this exposure is pretty obvious. If you’re really poor you wouldn’t own these conveniences.

I’m going to suggest that these unfortunate statistics and statements not only demonstrate a lack of knowledge about the real issues of poverty, but also reveal a disturbing bias against the poor.  It presumes that somehow a couple of electronic “conveniences” lifts that person out of poverty without any consideration to the much larger issues the poor have to face, such as substandard housing, lack of access to quality healthcare, deficient skills for marketable income and limited options to advance towards greater self-sufficiency.

Now, I do understand the concerns over our tax dollars going to support those who don’t want to take personal responsibility for their lives and rely on government subsidies. I sympathize with the frustrations related to big government and an astronomical federal deficit. But if you think that describes everyone who lives at or below the poverty line, which by the way is a mere $23,050 annually for a family of four, then think again. Continue reading

A Christian’s Conundrum of Politics And Theology

What is a conundrum? For the purposes of this post I’ll go with “a confusing or difficult problem or question”, according to Dictionary.com. It’s what happens when weighing two options, both of which have benefits and costs. The goal is to determine what will have the maximum benefit with the least amount of costs.

I have a some conundrums, both in politics and theology. The conundrums create tension, especially in light of competing views. Politics first. I’ve long since been a registered independent because my convictions concerning governance of the economy and society have never squarely fit into a partisan system. I’m a believer in the free market and understanding the significance of capitalism as the engine of the economic sustenance. Government intervention is needed as a regulator of the capitalists enterprise. Otherwise, greed would undermine the benefits of the capitalist system.

But on the other hand, government does have the responsibility to all of it’s citizens. Optimum government occurs when the economic engine has the maximum benefit for all society.  Here is where I turn socially moderate and deem some social programs necessary for the sake of the whole. I’ve worked in the non-profit sector for the past two decades on behalf of low-income, disenfranchised and poorly skilled citizens. The superficial remedy of employment is tremendously challenging for some for a variety of reasons that are sourced in disabling conditions. Now that is more than just physical ability but socio-economic factors that are deeply rooted in cultural fabrics.  Government intervention is needed to maximize what is beneficial for the whole of society. Continue reading