Hurting rich won’t help poor
If you haven’t seen the movie, “Lion,” I suggest you do. It’s the true story of a five-year-old from India who goes off with his older brother one night to look for scraps to sell to help support their mother. The older brother leaves the five-year-old asleep on a bench on a train platform. When the young boy awakens, he goes searching for his brother. He boards a decommissioned train that takes him on a two-day journey to Calcutta. There he fends for himself on the streets until he’s picked up and taken to an orphanage. He’s too young to be able to tell the adults where he’s from. They run ads in the Calcutta newspaper but no one claims him.
He’s finally adopted by an Australian couple and moves to Tasmania. There he’s raised as a typical Aussie. When he’s 25 year old, he visits the home of an Indian couple who serve up Indian cuisine. He starts having flashbacks of his youth and becomes obsessed with finding his real mother and his brother. The bulk of the movie is about his journey to reconnect.
I’ve thought a lot about the movie since I watched it with my family. The obvious point is how different his life was because he was raised in Australia instead of India. He’s wrought with guilt over his privilege, which we hear a lot about from the left these days. I’ve given that a great deal of thought.
We are all either victims or beneficiaries of our circumstances. There’s no doubt this young man had a much better life because he decided to board that train on that fateful night. But should he feel guilty?
Guilt is the currency of the left. Whether it be global warming or income inequality, they use it to try to force a redistribution of wealth. But redistributing wealth does not cure poverty. Abraham Lincoln once said, “You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.” You have to first understand why people are poor, and reasons vary from country to country.
India is one of the poorest places on Earth and has been for a very long time. About 24 percent of the population is at or below the poverty level. That means around 276 million people live on less than $2 a day. Why? A lot of India’s ills can be traced back to the caste system, a social order that far predates British colonialism (although that certainly didn’t help). The caste system is a Hindu concept that dates back to 1,500 B.C. Basically, you were born into a class and you could not escape it. It was your spiritual destiny. Lack of upward mobility is what has kept Indians in poverty for centuries.
If you ever wondered why Indians seem to be so smart but so many are poor, that’s why. You take Indians out of India a plop them in the Western world and they prosper. The left doesn’t seem to get that concept. Instead, they develop one redistribution scheme after another when the answer is the very system they loathe: capitalism.
America is where dreams come true. Why? Because it’s where you can go as far as your hard work, tenacity, and ingenuity can take you. Instead of asking why people are poor, we need to be asking why people are rich. Instead of hating them, we need to be emulating them. Rich people, for the most part, don’t become rich by stealing other people’s money. Lincoln said it best. “You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.”
©Philip Carr “Phil” Valentine