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Bill Britt

To Begin: Opinion

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

When we say every life is sacred, that doesn’t just mean the baby in the womb, it means every life. In Alabama, far too many of our fellow citizens are under-employed, under-educated and unhealthy. This should not be.

When I hear Gov. Robert Bentley say he wants to be remembered as the greatest governor the state has ever known, seriously addressing these three problems are what I pray he means.

Most of our people don’t want handouts. They simply need a helping hand to stand up on their own two feet.

Being poor is not a choice, it is not willfully desired, and it certainly is not a crime. Very few people actually want to live off of the government, no matter how well that rhetoric plays in the political market place.

People want to believe their lives mean something, and they do. Of course, people will fail, some will do horrible things that will demand they be removed from society. This is without doubt. And there are those, who for whatever reason, will spurn an honest days work choosing a life of crime or government dependence.

Benjamin Franklin said, “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion about the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.”

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We can disagree on the means, but we certain all should agree on the ends.

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Scottish Economist Adam Smith wrote, “The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations.”

Education can give young people the skills to work their way out of property, and learning can also give hope and inspiration for greater things. A good paying job gives dignity which can inspire confidence to do more. But, little learning or work can be accomplished when the body is sick.

If we were to take a map and overlay the statistics on failing schools, poverty, and crime, they would all be concentrated in the same location.

Smith also wrote, “No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.”

America has been called the land of opportunity, but opportunity is blunted when faced with sickness, ignorance, and an empty belly.

This is not advocacy for big government, or welfare. No, this is a cry for us to explore how we can honestly address problems concerning our most needy citizens. To honestly see the reality of things and confront them with with clear-eyed understanding and not the the pretentious “politicalspeak” that keeps us from practical solutions.

Far too many of our fellow citizen lack healthcare, gainful employment and adequate education. Those are facts.

Our health delivery system is mostly broken, many of our schools are as well, and the recovery from the great recession has passed many by like a shadow.

We have, for far too long, simply thrown money at these problems, or not confronted them at all. It is time for wise assessment, thoughtful planning and decisive action.

Once, a mighty king called the wisest in his kingdom to come to his court. He tasked them with beginning a project. Months later he called them back to report on their progress. To a person, they said the project was just too big to complete. He looked at them in disbelief: “I thought you were the wisest in my kingdom, but you are fools. I didn’t ask you to complete the task, but to begin it.”

Poverty, lack of education, and sickness will always be with us, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t begin the task at hand.

Let’s hope the Governor and his wisest already have.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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