What About the Poor? Part 2
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
January 4, 2017

Last Updated :
January 4, 2017

Old Testament Laws Regarding Practice Of Charging Interest, Jesus' Describes A Fair Means Of Paying Interest, Modern Greedy Banking Practices, False Accusation That All Public Assistance Program Recipients Are Lazy Bums, Violators Are Usually Caught Eventually and Castigated, Program Violators Are In The Minority, American Families Unable To Survive On Meager Wages Offered By Employers, Unscrupulous Tactics Used By Greedy American Employers, Our Situation Here Is The Same, Valid Reasons Regarding Why Some People End Up On The Public Assistance Programs, Parable Of The Good Samaritan, Selfless Compassion, Humiliation Of Applying For Public Assistance, Modern Online Privacy Concerns, Hackers And Data Breaches, Data Mining And Social Networks, Personal Privacy Becomes Nonexistent When One Applies For Public Assistance Programs, Provide The Information Fully And On Time Or No To Benefits, Fear And Intimidation Used To Keep Benefit Recipients Honest, Fiscal Belt-Tightening Equals Kicking More Folks Out Of The Programs, Networked Computer Systems Allow For Personal Info Cross-Checking To Mitigate Fraud, Loose Security At Certain Agencies, Some People Find It More Practical And Pragmatic To Survive On Public Assistance Than To Accept Part-Time Minimum Wage Job, Situation So Bad That College-Educated Kids Forced To Flip Hamburgers, Depressing And Embarrassing Situation For Them, No Fruit To Show For Their Efforts, The American Dream?, Frustration Of Coming Up Empty-Handed, Glowing Government Job Reports, A College Education Is Now Barely Enough To Get In The Door, Scheme To Discourage College-Educated American Kids

What you may also find rather interesting is the fact that the Mosaic Law, and the Prophets, strongly condemned the practice of usury -- that is, charging interest -- between the different tribes of Israel. Applying interest on a loan was viewed as a selfish, greedy practice. Only to foreigners was it permitted to charge interest, which is why in one of the verses below it says "Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury". It is in fact through this greedy practice of charging interest to the Gentile world, that the Jews have enriched themselves for millennia now.

"If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury."
Exodus 22:25, KJV

"And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase."
Leviticus 25:35-37, KJV

"Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury: Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it."
Deuteronomy 23:19-20, KJV

"And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews. For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live. Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth. There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards. And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words. Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them. And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer. Also I said, It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies? I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury. Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them. Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise. Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. And all the congregation said, Amen, and praised the LORD. And the people did according to this promise."
Nehemiah 5:1-13, KJV

"He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved."
Psalms 15:5, KJV

"He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor."
Proverbs 28:8, KJV

"But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour's wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman, And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man, Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD. If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things, And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour's wife, Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination, Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him. Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father's sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like, That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour's wife, Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment, That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live."
Ezekiel 18:5-17, KJV

"In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord GOD."
Ezekiel 22:12, KJV

In total contrast to the previous verses which condemn this greedy form of usury in which one person enriched himself at the expense of another, in the New Testament, in the Parable of the Ten Talents, Jesus describes money exchangers -- brokers or bankers -- who paid people interest as a reward for depositing their money in their bank. This is how banks are supposed to operate. However, sadly, banks have become extremely greedy, and the interest rate that is paid on bank deposits is extremely low. In fact, with some accounts, it's even totally non-existent. Furthermore, many banks charge a fee for just about every extra service they provide to their banking clients. It never used to be that way. It is greed.

"His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury."
Matthew 25:26-27, KJV

"And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?"
Luke 19:22-23, KJV

Now, we all know that the plight of the poor in America is a very complicated issue, and there are many different facets to it. I won't pretend to know and understand them all. But I do understand a large part of it, I believe. For example, one very harsh criticism which I have often read online -- and it is written by people who obviously are not suffering in any way themselves -- is that many people do not work, simply because they don't want to work, and because they are just lazy. This is indeed true to some degree. The currently available public assistance programs are such, that a shrewd person can use the system to their own advantage, and thus acquire benefits to which they are not legally entitled. It is also a fact that some recipients use their benefits, or their cards, in manners which are not consistent with these programs rules and guidelines.

However, it should also be noted that many of these people are eventually caught, and castigated with harsh penalties due to their intentional fraud and dishonesty. In most cases, this means that they're kicked out of that particular program for a year or longer. Repeated offenses may lead to fines, incarceration, and being permanently disqualified from said program. Three strikes and they are out completely.

However, at the same time, it is simply not fair or right to self-righteously categorize all public assistance recipients as lazy bums who refuse to work, and who are just milking the system for all that it is worth. In fact, according to what I have read online, the percentage of actual offenders is quite small compared to the overall number of individuals who receive some form of public assistance. While some of you may not know this, the truth of the matter is that some people choose not to work, not because they are lazy by any means, but because they and their families cannot possibly survive on the meager wages -- and/or on the terrible hours -- which are now being offered by potential employers in the United States.

In other words, stated another way, they can better make ends meet by accepting help from public assistance programs, than by working at a minimum wage job which offers terrible hours. If this is their situation, I cannot say that I blame them very much. People need to eat. They also need to pay their bills -- including expensive medical bills -- such as rent and monthly utilities. Then there is clothes, household needs, school supplies, and other unexpected expenses which may arise at any time.

If an employer insists on paying minimum wage, only hires part-time, escapes paying overtime because he only hires part-time, and likewise escapes being obligated to offer medical or dental insurance, or both, for the very same reason -- that is, because he only hires part-time -- then what is a person supposed to do? In some cases, they don't have a lot of options to choose from, so they are forced to turn to public assistance programs.

The exact same situation exists here where I live as well. This is how many local businesses operate. It is all about the profit margin and their greed. I have seen it for years firsthand. Our local economy is very depressed here. Add to that the fact that the local government has borrowed and borrowed and borrowed. It is majorly in debt, and for the most part bankrupt. I bet many of you are experiencing the very same kinds of things in your local situations as well. These are not isolated incidents. My readers in other nations are probably experiencing the very same things as well, and it is for a reason. Can you say globalization and greed?

So what is a man who needs to support a wife and children supposed to do? Or what about the mother or father who suddenly finds themselves without a working spouse, and is left with all the children? What about people who suddenly find themselves without a job for a while, because due to bad business decisions, the company they worked for had to downsize, or else belly up and face bankruptcy? Or what if an unanticipated medical emergency arrives which leaves a family flat broke? What if, God forbid, their house burns down and they are left with nothing, or a tornado, typhoon or hurricane blows through, and they lose everything? What about the sick, the disabled and the elderly who are not able to work? Are we just supposed to say "Tough luck!" to them as we sneer at them in our self-righteous manner? Do I need to remind you that this is how those hypocrites reacted upon finding the beaten up man on the road to the city of Jericho? Let me share those verses with you:

"And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise."
Luke 10:27-37, KJV

So as they say, love loves the unlovely. The Samaritan went beyond the call of duty. He did more than what was asked or expected of him, without regard to how much helping that poor man would put a dent in his own personal finances. He didn't even think about it. He didn't charge the beaten man $75.00 an hour for his services, or anything else. He didn't say, "Now, you come and work for me so that you can pay back the debt that you owe me for helping you." He didn't charge that poor beaten up man interest so that the man would die still being in debt to the Samaritan. He didn't brag about having helped a poor man on the side of the road. He just did what he felt he should do, motivated by real love, and that was the end of it. He practiced selfless compassion. In other words, he wasn't concerned with what was in it for himself, or how he might profit from the situation. What a difference we see in the world today!

At any rate, I am just providing a few examples here so that hard-nosed, judgmental, self-righteous people -- such as the ones whose comments I have seen online -- can see that not everyone ends up on public assistance programs because they are lazy bums. There are some very valid reasons for people to get on these various programs. How are they supposed to manage with the kind of crappy job I described a minute ago? Obviously, they cannot. In many cases, the pragmatic choice is to humble oneself, and to accept the help of such public assistance programs. And my friends, in case you were given the wrong impression, let me inform you that because many people are forced to accept public assistance against their will, it is a very humiliating and humbling experience. It's a blow to that individual's pride. Furthermore, they are basically making a public confession, and demonstrating that they are unable to survive on their own. So it is not as easy to apply for such programs as some of you may think.

But that is not all by any means. You all know how personal online privacy and security has become a very major issue with many people; particularly now that so many companies have been hacked, sensitive personal information stolen by the millions, put on buyers lists, and sold to the highest bidder. Add to that the unbelievable amount of personal data mining that is done by online companies -- particularly by the social networks -- and with good reason, so many people have become concerned. It is not surprising then that there are a number of organizations which in fact have been formed to safeguard personal privacy, although I really don't know how much I trust them either. As far as I am concerned, huge amounts of extremely personal data stored anywhere online is at risk. In fact, for the record, I likewise don't trust or use cloud backup services, proxy servers, a TOR browser, or anything else.

So what am I leading up to with the previous comments? Well, when it comes to public assistance programs, there is no such thing as personal privacy anymore. An applicant is required to reveal -- and to constantly keep updated -- many personal aspects of their life. This included the precise composition of their families, all forms of income, where they live -- the exact street address -- as well as their mailing address, birthdates of all household members, social security numbers of all household members, marital status, telephone numbers, bank accounts and current amounts in them, vehicles, homes, lands and other properties owned, employment history, etc.

Furthermore, a potential recipient doesn't just have to do it once and be done with it. If they are accepted into a particular assistance program, they also have to go in for periodic renewal appointments in order to keep whatever benefits they are receiving. Depending on their personal situation, this is usually once every six months, or once a year, for each program in which they participate. And, they need to make sure that all of their documents are in order and updated accordingly.

It is really a lot of personal information to turn over to a government entity, which, of course, they store on computers along with the data of millions of other people as well. It can really make one feel uncomfortable that Big Brother knows every single thing about your life. And, if a recipient fails to keep all of that information updated in a timely manner, they will suffer the consequences through either a temporary or permanent suspension from that particular program. That is how tough those government agencies can be. They do not just dole out public assistance as easily or as quickly as some of you may possibly think. I will have more to say regarding this particular aspect of these programs near the end of this series.

Furthermore, one tactic these government agencies will use to strike fear into the hearts of public assistance recipients, is to publish articles in the local newspaper, in which they inform the public regarding how many people have been kicked out of the programs, as well as why they were kicked out. In the times I have seen such reports, it has usually been a few dozen people, or more, at a time. Now, they don't name actual names, of course -- at least not yet -- but their objective is obviously achieved. They are relying upon intimidation and fear to enforce program compliance. Also, my observation is that the agencies which run these various assistance programs are tightening their fiscal belts by looking for every legal reason in the book to kick as many people as possible out of the programs; even if it is for a minor, and perhaps even innocent, infraction of a particular program's rules. My sense is that their actions are due to pressure from the federal government, and I expect it to get worse.

Let me also inform you that in more recent years, a lot of government agencies' computers have been linked via networks, so that they now possess the ability to share personal data between themselves regarding any particular client. This, of course, greatly reduces the potential for fraud; because if an individual is reporting something at one agency, but they are reporting something very different at another, they will eventually discover it, and that spells trouble for that person.

So now you know the price that public assistance recipients must be willing to pay, if they want to qualify for, as well as keep, their public assistance. That is what I would call government hardball. Would you do it if you suddenly found yourself in a very needful situation, and you had no other alternatives for providing for yourself and your family? It might not be quite so bad if said recipients could have the confidence of knowing that their sensitive personal info is being kept private and secure. Sadly, that is not always the case. Some case workers and other office employees can be very loose with their tongue at times. Furthermore, they can accidentally leave things lying around, such as leaving personal documents in the copy machine for prying eyes to discover, and other such things. I don't know how often such incidents occur, but it is worth mentioning here.

Given what I have shared with you here, I hope that you can now see how bad the situation has become in America. If a person can survive better -- and I do mean just survive and live rather frugally -- by accepting public assistance, than by working at a real paying job, something is seriously wrong somewhere. I dare say that some of you who are reading this series will already know where I am heading with this line of thought. If not, read on.

Let me also add -- in case you are not already aware of it -- that there are many qualified people who have at least one college degree or more, who really want to work, and who are eager to work at a good-paying job, but they just cannot seem to be able to land that particular job for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons I will be discussing in just a minute. Now, a number of times over the years, I have heard or read accounts about bright, college-educated kids who are flipping hamburgers, because that is the only kind of job they were able to acquire. What?!

Imagine how that makes them feel after spending those many thousands of dollars to improve their education and skill set, and investing another two, four or more years of their life to get that education, and then end up in a place like McDonalds. It must be very depressing, and perhaps downright embarrassing for them, because they have nothing to show for their hard efforts. It was preached to them for many years by their parents, that if they received a so-called "higher education", all would be well. They would eventually embrace the "American Dream", whatever that is. Well, if working at a fast-food joint is now the "American Dream", we are in very serious trouble.

Yes, my friends, we are indeed in serious trouble, no doubt about it. It really makes you wonder what is going on, and how and why America's personal incentive program has failed so miserably for such people. They took the initiative. They invested extra years of their lives, their money, their hard work and effort. They sacrificed. Maybe they even shed some tears during the long process. And, as I mentioned earlier, there is a good chance that they went deep into debt as well. They played by the rules, and yet they have still come up empty-handed. Just imagine the frustration they must feel.

Before moving on, let me bring up another thing which has bothered me for a while now. I'm talking about those glowing job reports that the government issues now and then in order to convince us of what a great job they are doing, and how they are so much better than the previous administration. I for one do not just blindly accept what they say. In fact, the big question that always enters my mind whenever they pat themselves on the back by issuing those reports is this: How many of those jobs are part-time, minimum wage jobs which do not provide a real living wage for individuals with families to support?

If it is just more of the same old same old, like the job I described to you earlier, then such jobs only benefit high school teenagers and such who don't have a lot of financial responsibilities yet. Those kinds of part-time, no-benefits jobs are for teens who still live with their parents, and who just want some spending cash for the weekends, and not much more. Such jobs are certainly not nearly enough for a working father or mother with children who has to pay their own rent and everything else with their job income alone.

You know, a few days ago I was on another website. I don't recall now if it was a news website, or a business website, or what. I apparently followed a link there. At any rate, there was this discourse in which the author of said piece said something which left me in shock. The entire attitude of the piece was really quite cold, in my view. Basically, the writer tore down, or I would say at least minimized, the importance of acquiring a college education. If I recall correctly, in so many words, this individual said that if a person wanted to get ahead in life -- that is, acquire a good job with a decent salary and benefits such as medical, dental, paid vacation and all the rest -- then expecting a great job just because one has a degree or two under his belt was overstepping and being unrealistic.

This writer went on to say that even with a college degree of some kind, a potential employee should still expect to start on the bottom rung of the ladder, working as a lowly grunt in the company that hires him. He should not expect to make significant progress in that company for years. He had to prove himself first, and invest his time and his life in that company. Now, of course I can agree with some of what that writer was stating. As we all know, a new employee is basically on probation, and does need to prove himself, and advancement does come with time as he learns the ropes and improves his skill set with that company, and becomes more of a valuable asset to that company.

Nevertheless, his comments just didn't sit right with me. In other words, the reason why a person invests so much money, time, energy and years in getting a better education, is so that they do not have to start out at the very bottom once they move into the actual job market. The purpose of their college education is so that they have some advantage over other potential employees -- such as those people who just have a high school diploma, for example -- and so they can start out higher up on the wage scale when they do begin working. If the value of a college education has dropped so low now, that it barely obtains an individual a full-time job, and barely helps them to get in ahead of a high school graduate, then in my view, even more so, it reveals how very broken the American job market has become.

But to be honest, I think that this fact reveals something even more important than that, and it has to do with the attitude of modern business people, many of whom already see their employees as simply pawns in their game, and personal pursuit for ultimate wealth. I just got the impression that the aforementioned writer seemed to want to knock down the traditional perspective. He seemed bent on intentionally trying to lower expectations, and to almost discourage some college-educated American job seekers. It was as if his goal was to change the narrative from what it has always been.

I thought about what I had read for a few minutes, and then what occurred to me is the following. If that was actually that writer's objective, why would he do it? What was his ultimate goal? Why would he want to discourage and lower the expectations of home-grown college-educated kids? Now ask yourself this: Who would benefit from such a thing? I will now tell you what I think, and this is just my personal opinion, but I think it rings of truth. I suspect that the underlying message may have actually been "We don't really want to hire college-educated, American kids." What?!

Please go to part three for the continuation of this series.

⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .

BBB Tools And Services

Please avail yourself of other areas of the Bill's Bible Basics website. There are many treasures for you to discover.