This recent comment following Dr. Helen’s post “Time for Another Boston Tea Party?”, struck me as aptly put:

There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week. We all get that, rich or poor. What one does with that time is up to that individual. 3% of the population, on average, has a library card. It’s free! The contents of a library are free to borrow! The cumulative knowledge of mankind is at hand, free! There are librarians there to help you, if you don’t understand the Dewey Decimal System. Free!

All men are created equal. After that, it’s up to each and every one of us. The reason one is rich, one is poor, one lives in a huge house, and one lives in an 8×10 cell is what’s between his ears. Always has been, always will be. Emotional IQ as well as intelligence IQ. A fair tax is a killer idea. If it’s fair. That is, as long as fairness is not the same as beauty, being in the eye of the beholder.

I am far and away from being wealthy. I believe in paying the goose that lays the golden eggs. It is good to help those who cannot help themselves. Food, clothing, roof over the head, help to get back on your feet. Then the “training wheels” need to come back off.

I have great sympathy for those who truly struggle, and believe those of us who are better off should do what we can to help others lift themselves up out of debilitating poverty. But if we value this magnificent free society that allows the production of this wealth that we are so fortunate to enjoy, we must do so by means of voluntary good that is consistent with the free society’s principles, rather than by coercive means, and we mustn’t allow the perpetuation of a “victim” mentality, or a soft bigotry of low expectations, to substitute for doing real, practical good.

Bill Whittle eloquently yet succinctly addressed the issue of poverty, what to do about it, and what not to do about it in his 2003 essay “Trinity” — highly recommended, and always worth another reading.