Originally Posted by lilyka
Does it even matter if they are obtained second hand or as gifts or even on sale? I mean no one, regardless of how much they make should spend beyond their means but if a little help with groceries or utilities stretched your means you are entitled to spend it on whatever is important to you. We all have a our things we spend on. Spend foolishly on even. i would say the majority of our purchases are happy making anyway. we could dress like hutterites, live in tiny houses, and eat beans and rice every day and get along just fine. But we choose not to. Because doing something else makes us happy. I could live in a much smaller house, share a room with one of my kids, get rid of our pets, stop lighting candles and burning insense when we pray. Really my kids do not need birthday cakes or gifts, they have everything they need and they are a little over weight. We don't need to go camping or out to movies, they can walk to school. Don't need the fancy school supplies. Would not die without air conditioning and could turn the heat down. I could drive a beater car and take my chances. Heck, I could get of the computer right now and learn some auto repair. There are lots of things we could do to cheapen our lives. but we like little things that make us happy and comfortable and consider most of them worth the money.
there are a million ways I could cut back, but honestly how i spend my money and how that effects my family is my business. I am on medicaid so my kids don't need health insurance...boom I have an extra $100 added to my child support, because we have the poor pass we get discounts on stuff. Boom saved $100 on swim passes and art classes. Now I have $200 above our budget to spend however I want. and if i want a designer bag or name brand clothes for my kids I am really as entitled to it as anyone else. Lets face it, no one needs it. So long as I am providing for my family (be it with assistance or not) and no one is getting neglected and we are not going into debt, no one has a right to judge.
I think lilyka put it well.
I think part of the problem is the way we're framing the question. We're asking, "Are poor people / people who owe money / people receiving assistance entitled to spend money on frivolous things?"
As though people who are NOT poor, do NOT owe money, do NOT receive assistance, ARE entitled to those things.
Perhaps we should be asking, instead, Why do any of us feel entitled to anything? I mean, regardless of how much money we make, am I entitled to spend the money we have on anything I deem important or valuable? Where does a responsible person draw the line? At some point, I think we all need to say, "yes, this money is in my possession, but that possession does not give me carte blanche to spend on whatever I feel like having or doing."
Here's two major reasons why:
1) I think we ALL owe a debt, somewhere. My BIL is a millionaire. Why? Because he's a VP of a bank that got bailed out using taxpayer money. And he got a big bonus as a result. Argue the ethics of that all you like (I certainly have!!!) -- but the end result is, he's wealthy. But he owes that wealth to the taxpayers as surely as the person who is receiving food stamps. Perhaps MORE, because the food stamps are part of our collective responsibility as a society to ensure that nobody goes hungry -- and paying for my BIL's new grand piano just doesn't fit comfortably in my view of good use of taxpayer dollars, KWIM?
Even people who have "worked hard" to earn a lot of money can't chalk that all up to their own effort. At some point, we all owe what we have to someone else. Poor people in developing countries subsidize our wealth every day. I couldn't afford to buy clothes, electronics, food, if somebody at some point on the chain did not sew those clothes, put together those electronics (and mine the metals that go into them), grow and pick the food, etc., at rock-bottom non-livable wages. Right? We all know that.
You could even track it back a few generations and say, to some degree, what I have depends upon the world into which I was born. If I am born a poor woman in Uganda, it doesn't matter how hard I work, I'm not gonna have the opportunities to gain wealth that a middle-class man in Germany or Denmark would have (for example). It's not as though the playing field is entirely even, right? Everyone starts at at different place. Loans, benefits, aid, etc. are an attempt to level that playing field enough to ensure that nobody completely falls through the cracks of survival. And still they do, every day.
2) It is part of the way that I understand my faith, and my responsibility to the world as a Christian. As St. Basil the Great said, “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot;
the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.”
So no, as long as people around me are poor, hungry, oppressed by our economic system, inadequately clothed, developing foot abscesses from wearing bad shoes all winter on the streets ... I really feel that I am NOT entitled to luxuries. Do I do a very good job of forgoing them? No. But I'm working on it. And in the meantime, I confess that as sin, because I truly believe that it is. For me, or for someone else, regardless of where they got their money.