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Rethinking help for the poor

Competing visions of the common good: Rethinking help for the poor

Thursday, May 23, 2013 – 12:00pm


How should people care for their neighbors and serve the “common good?” An elected official, a theologian, and a think-tank president gathered at AEI on Thursday to discuss competing answers to this ancient, enduring question.

Jim Wallis, author of the newly released book “On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good,” argued that polarization in the US capitol is destroying the common good, perhaps more than ever before. He stressed that organizations from all sectors should collectively seek the well-being of their cities, and called for political leaders and citizens to go “not left or right, but deeper.”

Rep. Frank Wolf encouraged policymakers on both sides of the aisle to approach issues regarding the poor with the kind of faith and conviction that has animated the Judeo-Christian tradition for millennia. He emphasized that elected leaders should attempt to regain the trust of American communities by pursuing common-sense policies in areas that serve the vulnerable, calling particular attention to hunger, religious persecution, human trafficking, and prison reform.

AEI President Arthur Brooks concluded the discussion by underscoring the need to reform entitlements, since the failure to do so will ultimately lead to austerity measures that will hit the poor the hardest. Alternatively, by strengthening the free enterprise system, said Brooks, we can maximize human liberty, increase opportunity, and provide the best life for the most people.

Napp Nazworth of the Christian Post wrote an excellent recap available here. And the full video from the panel discussion is available at AEI’s website.