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The Cause of Poverty (part 2)

Wide World Photo

Little girl from India's Kerala state — a victim of poverty and malnutrition.


This surprising second installment uncovers the hidden causes of poverty.
It explains why such a paradox as a "war on poverty" could occur in the world's richest nation.
It makes plain how poverty will be eradicated from the earth.



GOD Almighty put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He commanded Adam to "dress it and keep it" (Gen. 2:15).

But today too many want to lie down on the job — want coffee or tea breaks. Want to work only 5 or 4 days a week, want to work 36 hours or less if possible.


God Intended Man to Work!

Many have never realized that the fourth commandment not only enjoins the keeping of a rest day, but also commands man to "labor." "Six days shalt thou LABOR, and do all thy work" (Ex. 20:9).

That part of the command is just as important as the part requiring man to rest on the day God made holy.

The "spirit" or intent of this law shows that a man is normally expected to keep busily engaged during the first six days of the week.

Not only is man commanded to labor, but he is told how he is to go about his work. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Eccl. 9:10)! For God's Word reveals that there is no mental or physical activity at all — no knowledge, wisdom or work — in the grave where all mankind is headed.

The apostle Paul commanded the Christian not to be "slothful in business" (Rom. 12:11). He further admonished: "but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth" (Eph. 4:28). See also I Thessalonians 4:11, 12.

Even in the days of the Apostles, "spongers," "shirkers" or "chiselers" were beginning to take advantage of some of the brethren. These "parasites" were loafing — not working and providing for their own households as they should. God, therefore, inspired the apostle Paul to give a stern warning: "If any [able-bodied individual] provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he bath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (I Tim. 5:8).

Notice how the apostle Paul dealt with lazy, shiftless idlers: "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, NEITHER SHOULD HE EAT. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread" (II Thess. 3:10-12).

Henry Ford, noted car manufacturer and industrialist, recognized the usefulness of diligent work in stamping out poverty.

In his introduction to his book, My Life and Work, Mr. Ford says: "There is no reason why a man who is willing to work should not be able to work and to receive the full value of his work. There is equally no reason why a man who can but will not work should not receive the full value of his services to the community . . . If he contributes nothing he should take nothing away. He (the sluggard) should have the freedom of starvation."

Mr. Ford had no patience with ne'er-do-wells — people who were unwilling to work to earn their own way. He paid good wages (the highest in the auto industry) to his employees, but would not tolerate indolence!

In Chapters 13, "Why Be Poor?" and 15, "Why Charity?" Mr. Ford made it very clear that people need not be poor — if they're willing to work. Neither do they need to rely on charity. He proved that even cripples, in most cases, could be trained for gainful employment.

He said, "Charity never led to a settled state of affairs. The charitable system that does not aim to make itself unnecessary is not performing service . . . In a previous chapter I have set out how experiments in our shops have demonstrated that in sufficiently subdivided industry there are places which can be filled by the maimed, the halt and the blind . . . There are more places in subdivision industry that can be filled by blind men than there are blind men. There are more places that can be filled by cripples than there are cripples" (Chap. 15).

Mr. Ford saw the permanent dole as a bad principle and a waste of money. He understood the principle of giving only to those truly in need. He did not believe charity should be poured into a rat hole to support the shiftless. When a person is given material assistance, it should always be with the idea of helping him to help himself. Any other type of giving is always destructive in the end!


Badly Needed Initiative

Many people in America and Britain — as in the whole world — are poor simply because they are downright lazy! They lack initiative!

The renowned American philosopher, Elbert Hubbard, understood the importance of initiative. He said: "The world bestows its big prizes, both in money and in honors, for one thing — and that is initiative. What is initiative? I'll tell you. It is doing the right thing without being told.

"But next to doing the right thing without being told is to do it when you are told once . . .

"Next, there are those who never do a thing until they are told twice: such get no honors and small pay.

"Next, there are those who do the right thing only when Necessity kicks them from behind, and these get indifference instead of honors and a pittance for pay. This kind spends most of its time polishing a bench with a hard-luck story.

"Then, still lower down in the scale than this, we find the fellow who will not do the right thing even when someone goes along to show him how, and stays to see that he does it: he is always out of a job, and receives the contempt he deserves, unless he has a rich Pa, in which case Destiny patiently waits round the corner with a stuffed club. To which class do you belong?" (Initiative, Elbert Hubbard)

Another very interesting and profitable article on the subject of diligence was written by Elbert Hubbard. He had been a common laborer and also an employer of men. He wrote:

"We have recently been hearing much maudlin sympathy expressed for the 'down-trodden denizens of the sweat-shop' and the 'homeless wanderer searching for honest employment,' and with it all often go many hard words for the men in power. Nothing is said about the employer who grows old before his time in a vain attempt to get frowsy ne'er-do-wells to do intelligent work; and his long, patient striving after 'help' that does nothing but loaf when his back is turned. . . In our pitying, let us drop a tear, too, for the men who are striving to carry on a great enterprise, whose working hours are not limited by the whistle, and whose hair is fast turning white through the struggle to hold in line dowdy indifference, slipshod imbecility, and the heartless ingratitude which, but for their enterprise would be both hungry and homeless. There is no excellence, per se, in poverty; rags are no recommendation; and all employers are not rapacious and high-handed, any more than all poor men are virtuous" (A Message to Garcia, Elbert Hubbard).