A Different Way: The Proper Way

A Different Way: The Proper Way

     This is a different look at the social contract, which has been upended by the “War on Poverty,” which may be more accurately described as the “War on the Family.” We are 50 years into the War on the Family. Marriage within poor urban and rural communities has been practically wiped out. And there is a perverse incentive for the Welfare-Industrial Complex to change nothing. The amount of jobs, pensions, personal days, deductibles, disability, co-pays and health care benefits for the staff of the welfare-industrial complex is so massive, that success in the war of poverty would mean rendering so many of these staffers obsolete. This is also a built-in opposition to letting community organizations or charitable organizations do the lion’s share of the work as again so many staffers of the welfare-industrial complex would be rendered obsolete.

     And what do they call it when you do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result? Insanity. But this is where we find ourselves. And then there is the national and local press that has a decidedly pro-government view of most issues. Suggestions that programs would be reduced, eliminated or transferred to private, charitable organizations are met with reaction. No. The press cannot countenance any change that involves less government staffing, regulation, fees, benefits, etc. To do so is to be “mean” and lacking compassion.

     Well the present system was flawed from its start as it has created incentives against marriage and unions between mothers and fathers to the detriment of our children. So what would a different way look like? Here are some ideas:


What would you do?

You must now place one of your children into one of these two homes:

     In the first family, there is a single parent, who is usually a single mother, struggling valiantly to make it work for her child. Due in part to government programs, your child will never go to bed hungry, and there will always be heat at the house and adequate clothing.

     In the second family, you will have a husband and wife, struggling to get by. Sometimes your child will go to bed with an empty stomach because there was not enough food.

Sometimes there will be no heat at night in the cold and your child’s clothing may be tattered from time to time with a good helping of hand-me-downs.

Most people chose the second family. So why do we make different choices for our neighbor’s children versus our own children?

The Magic Trick: We can recognize that as a society we have failed to give stronger public education to our young people in disadvantaged communities. We have also failed to have a stronger economy with jobs for our young people. This makes it hard for a young man to take responsibility for his child. And here is where the magic trick comes in. Where the judgmental society of old would not place this young man in prison for failing to pay money towards his child, the “non-judgmental” segment of society has no problem putting this young man in jail for failing to pay towards his children. So the “non-judgmental” people will take your liberty, but the judgmental society did not take your liberty. So who is more ready to use the apparatus of the state to imprison someone for a civil wrong? We do not imprison someone who has fallen behind on their mortgage or car payments. Debtor’s prisons existed once, but have long ago been disbanded.

     Where is the line between civil and criminal penalties? Should we discuss this use of state power by the proponents of “no judgment?”

Decriminalizing Work: We got rid of debtors’ prisons centuries ago, yet why do we allow the state to imprison our fellow citizens for working?

As you know, we have licensing laws for many professions and for many of those professions that is a good thing. It is the extent to which we have licensing that sometimes raises an issue as special interests such as the profession itself or the trade schools get more restrictive rules imposed by the legislature to limit competition or enrich themselves at the expense of the citizen who only wants to work.

I submit to you that the freedom to work with your hands and back to put food on your plate and the plates of your children is a human right and is on the same level as freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion and the right to bear arms!

In Connecticut, however, if you work on someone’s home or property without a home improvement contractor’s license, the state can arrest you. If you cut someone’s hair as a barber without a license, the state can arrest you. So let’s decriminalize working.

Armed Forces Network Television:  On some military bases, the military television station would carry international news, American news but also news from the base. They might track the progress of the local schools’ sports teams. Perhaps there was going to be a change-of-command ceremony or some detachment was shipping out to somewhere for a deployment or training exercise? There were also war movies that might underline historical lessons from various conflicts or battles or would display a type of leadership or soldiering. But what struck me most were the informational spots aimed at young soldiers. The young soldiers would be advised on how to keep their personal area neat and clean; and, how to maintain and properly wear their various uniforms. There would be tips on hygiene and courtesy for other soldiers. There were also segments advising the soldiers to be aware of the used car dealerships right outside of the base. For many of these young men and women, this was their first time on their own. It may be their first paycheck every two weeks. Wouldn’t it be tempting to buy a new or used car? Why not a V-8 motor or bigger horsepower? These are all natural things. The spots would tell the soldier not to spend their money all at one time; that they should save some of their money. They should be aware of managing their creditworthiness as it can impact them later when they want to buy a house or apartment. Don’t take on credit card debt.

     These informational spots are done in a caring way. There are some young people in our state that may not have received some of these tips growing up. Why couldn’t we broadcast some of these military stations on cable television? They could be in the 200 channels. The Army could receive one-third of the advertising revenue for having provided the feed; the cable company could earn one-third for broadcasting the programs; and, one-third could go to private veteran, non-profit organizations. Perhaps Armed Forces Network could give us a choice of the feed to our bases in South Korea, Germany, Italy, Parris Island, South Carolina, Hawaii, etc.? The consumer would just pick the channel.

     It could well become a “thing,” as we as a nation are allowed to participate in some of the daily life of the military. In addition, many young men and women might receive helpful pointers for their lives that they may not have heard at home? And what could be wrong with that?

If a man and woman marry and go to church, synagogue, mosque or temple, there is less than a10% chance they will need public assistance, regardless of where they started. This does not requires laws but requires public service announcements on television, radio and Internet. It would also be repeated in school.

Formula for success:

  1. Finish high school/trade school/college.
  2. Get a job.
  3. Get married.
  4. Then have children.

-Lowering the licensing requirements for many trades. The administrative state tells the poor and those of moderate means: “Don’t even try, don’t even apply, unless you have the cash, an attorney and a professional to pay the fees of the administrative state, an attorney to help fill out the forms and a professional to satisfy what ever other requirements that the administrative state has of you, just to go to work.” A glaring example is barber. One thousand hours at a barber school, just to get your license. And you have to pay the tuition for that. It does not take 1,000 hours to learn how to use hygiene on scissors and combs and how to wash your hands and not poke people in the eyes with scissors. As happens with government regulation, the rules are made to restrict competition and bring money to the insiders. This prevents people from working.

     The Home Improvement Contractor Act is a denial of the human right to work with your hands and back to put food on your plate. In order to perform home improvement services like cutting the grass, painting or fixing a screen door, you have to have a home improvement contractor license. If you don’t have it the state could arrest you, although it is highly unlikely the state would do so. Nonetheless, if you take a summer job cutting your neighbor’s lawn, you are a lawbreaker. So if one assumes that people from poorer urban and rural communities have less money and are less conversant with government forms, it is fair to say that they are scared away at first blush from trying to learn the trades.

Making it difficult to work with your hands prevents many from learning the trades by doing. If you don’t learn the trades, a sure-fire way of economic independence is blocked from you: the trades.

Potential economic independence through long hours and low pay. Owning your own business and being your own boss is basically the only way to build wealth. Some people are able to build wealth as employees but it is much harder than working for yourself. The reason, one says long hours for low pay, is there is the assumption that when you work for yourself, you have to work very long hours. It is not 9-5. And sometimes your business fails. But you learn. You get up again and you try again.

One of the reasons it is said that the entrepreneur has low pay is because they re-invest their earnings back into their business in the form of more or better equipment, more advertising, maybe some workers, etc., instead of spending the money on their own clothes, vacations and entertainment. These luxuries can wait, while the entrepreneur tries to make more business and bigger business.

One should use public service announcements and school to educate the populace that if you want to create wealth, and you are not going to be a successful doctor or attorney, that running your own business as an entrepreneur is the only way. The average lawyer makes as much as the average plumber. The plumber did not have to spend money on four years of college and three years of law school. The plumber was able to earn money from the very beginning as an apprentice and take school concurrently with working.

The War on Poverty has been more effective as the War on the Family. The state sometimes messes up some of the things that it touches. One of these is marriage. Although an intact marriage is one of the best methods to improve the financial, physical, emotional and academic health of all of the family members, it has been decimated by the War of the Family. Since “husband” and “wife” carry high regard in society, perhaps young people in poor urban and rural communities might consider calling their boyfriend or girlfriend “husband” or ”wife” even though they have not taken out a marriage license or been married by a justice of the peace or minister, rabbi or priest. This should be particularly so for a couple that is expecting or has had a child together. It is in the interest of society and the child that the parents live together and raise the child together.

Where the state has made it intimidating to get married as a judge can take all of your property; can order you to pay the other person money; and, can even have you arrested based on the fact that you were legally married, by calling each other “husband” and “wife,” you are letting society know the level with which you hold the other person and the seriousness of your commitment. This may lead to more husbands and wives sharing the same household as their own biological children. What a victory that would be for the children: better physical, mental and academic health. Less poverty for all involved and fewer social welfare payments. This is to underline a sense of responsibility when you bring children into the world.


The only person that can elevate you is you. The bounty of life has many gifts waiting for you, but life is not going to come knocking on your door and ask if it is okay to wake you or to interrupt your video game or hanging out. You must prepare yourself for the bounty that life can have for you. What are you doing to prepare yourself to receive the gifts that life has? Are you out training yourself? Are you out educating yourself? Are you out looking for a job? Are you doing what is right as opposed to what is easy or legal? The only person that can pick you up is you.


Respectfully submitted by:

Curtis Smith, Jr.

Peter Thalheim