Gombis ( The Drama of Ephesians: Participating in the Triumph of God , 51-2)illustrates the way powers work by transcending individual choice and creating enslaving institutions by describing a discovery that he and his wife made when they began to work with the urban poor. Why do people remain in poverty, he wondered, when “there are endless government programs and charities available.” His answer is that “the mind-numbing complexity of government agencies works to ensure that people will never get out of poverty. At least it’s the case that people in poverty feel that way.”

He explains further: “The endless demand by agencies for documentation and the overlap of government organizations leaves people feeling defeated, depressed, and discouraged . . . . let’s say my friend John identifies four agencies that he can utilize to get help. He goes to the first one and finds that if he gets a job, then he loses the benefits he’s already getting that allow him to feed his family. He goes to the second and finds that if he makes a certain amount of money, which is slightly less than he’s currently receiving from the government, he forfeits the help that agency gives. At the third, he finds that if he gets the help that the other two agencies offer, he can’t get any benefits from this one. Not only this, but every time he goes back, he is told that he needs yet another form that he was not made aware of previously. After a few days or weeks going around to the various agencies and being treated as just another nuisance, John is discouraged and finds that he’d rather maintain the status quo and allow his family to at least eat.”

More on: Economics

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

Loading...