A great post from Joy Pullmann last week asked for opinions on how 17-year-old high school students could respond biblically to one of their friends, “Julia,” who seems to get $800 per month from an entitlement program to spend however she chooses. It is suggested that Julia’s two friends gently talk to her about the way in which she frivolously spends this money, “not to condemn her, but to empower Julia so she sees herself as able to support herself and contribute to the world.” I applaud any young person who takes the time to consider the broader moral implications and sustainability of our entitlement system, but respectfully, I have to disagree that talking to Julia is the right answer. Before these two friends—let’s call them Amanda and Sarah—speak with Julia about how it upsets them that she takes from “the system” and spends this money irresponsibly, I have a few questions to ask of Amanda and Sarah:
- Are these teenagers working outside the home?
- Do they regularly tithe part of their own (however meager) wealth?
- Do their parents ever take deductions or advantage of special credits on their tax returns?
- Are they or any of their relatives relying upon Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Veteran’s Administration programs, military, federal or state retirement plans?
- Do these teenagers benefit indirectly from any of the above transfer programs?