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Posted on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 8 a.m.

U.S. has responsibility to give aid to disadvantaged people

By Robert Faber

Passion can be physical and love can be blind, but pride generally is built on characteristics more basic. The national pride of so many of our people says much about those principles articulated in the Constitution’s Preamble and its first 10 amendments, a distinction that comes not from our inherent superiority as a people, but from the varied backgrounds of the population that early joined to form our nation and from traditions established and nurtured during its many years.

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Our first colony of immigrants, founded by Pilgrims escaping England’s religious persecution, settled in Plymouth and soon became a model and a goal for much of Europe’s abused and disadvantaged population. And that, to a greater or lesser degree, has defined our nation ever since.

Unfortunately, even as the world’s hungry and hopeless viewed us as the best promise for relief from the oppression that marked most nations of the world, we hardly were without humanitarian flaws of our own. Our cruel and insensitive treatment of the American Indians was exceeded only by our inexcusable tolerance of slavery, but compared to the many horrors of world history, this new land at least offered a reasonable hope for a better future — for our own abused population and for the oppressed of the world. That dream of better days, the invitation on the welcoming Stature of Liberty to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” gave hope to many of the world’s most needy and helped secure for us our very distinctive place in the world.

Our heritage may have been the rest of the world, but we have since grown into our own people, the sum of many of the world’s separate parts. Our national character was planted by immigrants who had earlier fled the established horrors of the Old World, but the hopes and aspirations that guided their move were more closely tied to the principles and values embedded in our Founding documents, a commitment to “establish justice [and] promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty.” It is those principles that helped set our patterns of personal performance, exhibiting an uncommon concern for the least advantaged among us and setting a tone for national behavior that has helped define our character.

The Constitution’s determination to “provide for the general welfare,” is more than an empty slogan from the past, but has been validated by the Supreme Court as a principle defining the character of our people. Unfortunately, that American characteristic of aid for the more disadvantaged is now being downgraded by conflicting political objectives. Our commitment to “promote the general Welfare” is being lost in the dust-up of the rush to reduce taxes to make life more secure and comfortable for those least threatened.

Some of our humanitarian goals have been achieved through such programs as Social Security and Headstart and Medicare/Medicaid, but such measures are threatened by our increasing self-interest in the circumstances of our weakened economy. Our Constitution’s concern for the general welfare increasingly is suffering from its competition with tax cuts.

Our nation has been blessed with an obligation of responsibility for all its people, to enable them to live in dignity and security and with ample opportunities for improvement. That may well be little more than a goal of irrational dreamers, but it nevertheless remains a goal—a dream—and altogether worthy of a continuing and dedicated pursuit.

Robert Faber has been a resident of Ann Arbor since 1954. He and his wife, Eunice, owned a fabric store and later a travel agency. He served a couple of terms on the Ann Arbor City Council. He may be reached at


Steven Murphy

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

In general, I like the sentiments of the article even though it does have a strong socialistic tone to it (which, frankly, in my advancing years starts to sound better and better). What I see as some of the glaring inequities and wrongfulness that's going on in this country pertain to pay inequities (CEOs vs average workers), government/political waste (bureaucracy, costly and time-consuming elections) and personal responsibility (making more babies than one's finances can afford, and then blaming "society" for being poor). Also, if we could figure a way to keep our noses out of the affairs of other nations, including our insatiable appetite for blowing trillions of dollars on wars ..., life in general would improve markedly for all of us in no time flat.

Robert Faber

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 8:12 p.m.

The thoughtless and heartless attack on our nation's disadvantaged shown by so many responders to my article is a bit more than surprising – and disappointing. Much to our credit, our nation has always been a haven for those in need, beginning with the first colony of Pilgrims in Plymouth escaping the abuse of religious persecution and now extending to those on the East coast impacted by Sandy. It is our responsibility as fellow citizens and as beneficiaries of traditions established at our nation's founding that those in need — whatever the reason, whatever the nature — will receive whatever assistance can reasonably be provided. The nature of that need varies according to the time and the problem—whether it is help from firefighters in escaping a burning home, or oversight of the medical drug industry to keep Thalidomide off the market, or the provision of public education for the most disadvantaged children through such programs as HeadStart—but assistance for the least able must be available. And for victims of inadequate mental abilities, or those victims of parental abuse or abject poverty where learning alternative lifestyles was not part of their heritage,the need for assistance is no less reasonable or valuable. We cannot do it alone—we need each other. And we cannot do it all, but what we can do is our best – to help our neighbor and our nation – and that should be mandatory. Bob Faber

Bill Wilson

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

Mr. Faber, You are misinformed, sir. While it's true that the Pilgrims came to our country and initially set up a collective socialist system, like all socialist schemes, it failed, and many starved to death. It was only after they changed to a barter system that allowed individuals to profit from their work, that their colony became successful. The person answering your post might do well to take a lesson from Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh often relates the story of the boater who fed dolphins from his boat, on a daily basis. After several months of this, the dolphins ceased hunting for their own food, instead opting to collect and patrol in the spot where the boater was feeding them. The boater had made a dependent class.... out of dolphins. We owe those in need better treatment, than that.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

Bob...just know there are many of us out here that agree with you. Unfortunately the least educated segment of society has been poisoned by Rush Limbaugh, A.M. radio, and FAUX News Infotainment.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Ask not what your country can do for you.... Why is it that the limousine liberals never demand that people receiving handouts do anything in return? This sense of community must work both ways if it's to work at all. Kennedy understood that. Even though he was in favor of expanding the welfare state, he understood that. Today's liberals do not.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

When I think of bleeding heart liberals I think of Faber.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

David Wanner

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

Take care of our own FIRST.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

"If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it." --Stephen Colbert

Stephen Landes

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

Mr. Faber is just not well informed. Our Country is the most generous country with the most generous people on the planet. Our assistance programs in total were worth more than $1 Trillion last fiscal year alone -- not counting charitable contributions or foreign aid. Why does permit this to be a regular feature of the site? If Mr. Faber wants to comment on articles that is just fine, but as essentially a columnist he is not well informed.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

Faber might be the last connection they have left to The Ann Arbor News. Never mind that he's been hopelessly out of touch for about 50 years now.

Stephen Landes

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

For those who doubt the $1 trillion figure check out the article at ----


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

The last I checked, the US is operating with a massive federal budget deficit. With an entitlement government that supplies a middle class lifestyle to people who refuse to work or contribute to this country in any way, we are now suppose to increase our deficit by feeding the world? Feeding a world, much of which who hates the USA?


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

Yes, and this craziness needs to be stopped!!


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:51 p.m.

As always....well said Mr. Faber


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

Mr F speaks with forked tongue.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

The narcotic of government welfare programs, robs a person of motivation to be self sufficient, and to be a responsible member of society. It only increases the number of people who choose to drop out of school, have children outside of marriage, and be a drain on society. Before the Johnson era "great society" programs we had intact familes in the black community, a strong middle class and good public schools. Now we have 47 million on government assistance, illiteracy is sky rocketing, and high school graduation rates in Detroit are about 20%. A strong family unit made up of a married man and woman is the best social program. Not a hand out from the state.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

Diagenes, You are so right!! The more "free" (to them) things & services people get, the more they feel entitled to! Rememmber this quote: "Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, he will eat for the rest of his life." So instead of just "feeding" those needy persons, let's teach them and expect them to learn to feed themselves. It can be done!!


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

We are not "inherent superiority as a people" any more. The melting pot has lowered the bar on everything to a common denominator. 50 percent of its people are below average (ha, ha. Explain that one somebody). I'd speculate that this is a Darwin move. In the long run, the Iranian, Chinese, or even North Korean form of government may win out. The U.S. has splurged its advantage by being so concerned about the welfare of the world it forgot about its own citizens. On to obscurity....


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

I have no problem giving money to charity of my choice. I hate the fraud in the Federal govenment of giving to people who REFUSE to work.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

I give to charity every two weeks. It is called federal income tax.

Basic Bob

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

Is that you, Ebenezer?

Silly Sally

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

So, Mr. Faber wants to tax me to give to people of his choice. Private charities do a much better job of serving the needy, yet he made no mention of this. When taxed to do so, much more is wasted than when in private hands. I rather give to Food Gatherers or the Salvation Army or Red Cross than his forced "donation" to the Feds.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

JUST MORE ENTITLEMENTS THAT WE'LL END UP PAYING FOR! This is BS, let those that really need get up off their collective butts and get to work like the rest of us do. They have two arms, two hands, two legs that they need to stand up on instead of leaching off the working public.

Steven Murphy

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

I went out to a place to try and secure an $8.00-an-hour "computer entry data" job which was to type out as fast as one could names and addresses from a list for 40 hours a week (which would be pure h*ll). They had me go through a timing/accuracy test that took me a good 40-minutes. (I did poorly and so they never called me.) When finished, I asked the lady how many other people had already taken the test for the available 15 or so openings. She told me "about 150." I also applied for a job at an electronics company just down the road via an employment outfit and got a call from a lady there several weeks later telling me to come in and bring my social security card along with my drivers license. Needless to say, I was thrilled because I thought I'd go in there and have a chat and then be told when I'd start. That didn't happen. I went to the place only to discover that there were a dozen or more people waiting to go through a test on computers involving math and logic to hopefully land a job. Well, I'm no Isaac Newton and so I went through their stupid test (knowing I wouldn't make the grade) and then walked out of there feeling I'd been duped! These companies know there are THOUSANDS of desperate people out of work and so they can cherry-pick people for whatever few openings that are available. And while I don't have a problem with them doing what's best for them, I do resent not having been told up front that it was a screening process ... and so it was clear that they regarded us as being nothing more than cattle. The point I'm making is that the economy is way worse than what these politicians and bureaucrats are letting on, and that while no doubt there are many folks that are sucking up as much unemployment insurance as possible, there are still many that would like to have a job to put some food on their tables via their own efforts and get on with life. Things are going to get much worse before they get better.

Top Cat

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

One need only read The Federalist Papers to understand that by the phrase "provide for the common Defence and general Welfare", that James Madison did not mean nor intend to justify 100 million people feeding at the public trough. What we have a "responsibility" to do is to stop accumulating debt that will burden future generations.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

not sure why, but he changes it to promote a sentence later in the article. Kind of confusing.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

Mr. Faber misquoted the Constitution anyway. It says "promote" the general welfare not "provide". Those are 2 very distinct terms.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

We'll be bankrupted by the lie that Social Security is "solvent" faster than we'll ever be bankrupted by our involvement in the Middle East.

Elijah Shalis

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

Probably best done by not having expensive wars all over the world based on lies.