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Is it just? Farm Bill requires able-bodied on food stamps to work part-time or get job-training


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NEW FARM BILL REQUIRES WORK FOR FOOD ASSISTANCE: IS IT JUST?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, last Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a new farm bill. Now, a lot of people don’t realize it, but the farm bill also includes food stamps or, known by its new name, the SNAP Program.

In the latest version of the bill, passed by the narrowest of margins — 213 to 211 — all Democrats opposed the bill and the reason why, Harry, is many say they oppose it is because there are new work requirements in this bill. The measure requires participants to work 20 hours per week or enroll in job training if they’re going to pick up what was traditionally known as food stamps. Now, there are exceptions for this for those that are disabled, for youth and other exemptions that would allow some people to get around these requirements.

Harry, my question for you is this: what is the Biblical approach to assistance, what is the Biblical approach to work and how do these two come together?

DR. REEDER: Tom, given the fact that they had the appropriate exemptions — if someone is disabled, unable to work or underage to work and is in need of the assistance — given those exemptions, the fact that you have a bill that is encouraging people to go to work at least 20 hours, part-time, or to be enrolled in a job training or job search process, I find that extraordinarily appropriate and good governing. It astounds me that almost one-half of the Congress would vote against that.

There must be something I am not seeing, but we’ve gone over this bill and the exemptions are there to take care of those who are incapable of work and the fact that you are trying to get people engaged in the workforce is a positive because work is not punishment and work is not something to avoid, but work is something to embrace.

THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKING FOR YOURSELF IS LONG-KNOWN

I remember the comments — I won’t name who, but three personages out of the Civil War — and one of the critiques of slavery that all three of these leaders had was that it was built upon the false assumption that happiness is found in oppressing and forcing and impressing other people to do work for you.

You say, well, what about hiring people? Yeah, you hire people to create work — you don’t hire people to do work for you, but you hire people to create work for them but you’re still supposed to be working. That’s why you can hire somebody because you can now pay them.

WORK WAS GIVEN BY GOD BUT THWARTED BY SIN

All of this is predicated upon the fact that work is not a part of the curse and work is not something to avoid, but work was built right into the creation week when Adam and Eve were made and God gave them what we call a “creation mandate” to subdue the earth — that’s work — rule over the creatures and the creation — stewardship of God’s creation, the home he made for us, that’s work — and then, of course, to be fruitful and multiply and that’ll lead to work when you start raising children. Work is good.

Now, the curse of sin brought frustration, sweat, thorns, briars and complexity, and consequences of the curse of sin upon work but work is not a curse. There is the curse of sinful consequences within work, but it is not work that is the curse. That’s something good. It contributes to self-respect, it contributes to creation of wealth, it contributes for others as it creates jobs for other people when you do a job and you do it rightly. It also contributes not only to your self-respect to your self-engagement and appropriate view of self-esteem that you’re made in the image of God and not only can you work, but you can work with purpose.

WORK CAN (AND SHOULD) BE WORSHIP

And then, ultimately, with the Gospel, we can teach people to do work as worship. You know, work as worship gave rise to a statement in our society called “professional.” What does the word professional mean in its origins out of the Reformation? Well, here was the notion that Calvin, Luther, Knox and others said this: all work is sacred if it is worthwhile work and done worthwhile. And work is a subset of worship — an instrument of worship. Do your work heartily unto the Lord. Therefore, the way you work becomes a profession of your faith so do it with excellence.

“Oh, that guy’s a professional,” meaning he does it with excellence. And when you say to someone, “He’s a professional. He does it with excellence,” that was a compliment out of the Reformation meaning his work honored the Lord and it was an act of worship. “Whether you eat, drink or whatsoever you do, you do them to the glory of God to honor him.” That is something that is of excellence.

Therefore, the bill, I applaud its promotion of work. I also applaud the fact that we have a mechanism of mercy for those who can’t work or those who are in the process of finding work and are demonstrating that process.

IN ANCIENT ISRAEL, A SIMILAR SYSTEM WAS IN PLACE

That is exactly what was happening in Israel. In Israel, if someone was unable to own land and harvest a crop to take care of themselves and to feed themselves and others, then Israel had three definite steps available for them.

The first step, if you owned land, you were called to obey this commandment from the Lord, “Leave the gleanings.” What does that mean, leave the gleanings? Well, that means, when you’re bundling up your harvest, whenever you bundle something, something’s going to fall out. Count that as the providence of God for people who don’t have land or maybe who are not capable of planting and harvesting but they can come out and pick up the gleanings. Notice they are unable to do full work, but they can do some work. They can’t plant and harvest — they don’t have strength or the ability to do that — but they could pick up gleanings. Therefore, you don’t just go hand it to them, but you leave it on the ground so they can pick it up and actually do some work even though mercy is being provided.

Another thing that was stated is, when you harvest, leave the corners of your field — don’t harvest the corners. Well, there are some people who don’t own land and they can’t plant and they can’t do a full harvest, but they could harvest a corner so leave that corner and let them harvest — see, they’re doing some work. You have made a provision for them because they’re incapable of doing the full work so you’ve made the provision for them.

And then the third thing that they would do is you would always have a relative who could be a kinsman redeemer who could take care of someone who could not provide for themselves so the kinsman redeemer was there. Now, by the way, also, the refuge cities were a place that they could flee to until they could “get back on their feet” as well.

Notice how all of the mercy provisions made also a provision for the blessing of work and the blessings that come from work. If someone was incapable of any work, get to the temple or someone could go to the temple for you and the priest had the storehouses from which they could administer to those incapable of work. Go and place yourself at the temple and people would give alms of mercy to you as well.

There were multiple ways to help those who could not work at all but the primary means of helping people was not simply to give them something, but to create a way for them to work. Avoiding of work is a pagan virtue, not a Christian virtue.

CHRISTIANS TURN A CREATION MANDATE INTO A REDEMPTION MANDATE

Christians embrace work as a creation mandate and, because of redemption, they change the creation mandate into a redemption mandate and make work an act of worship so that they do their work heartily unto the Lord and not only create jobs for others by the way they work but take what they have and make sure they’re providing for others in their family and beyond through the tithe, and the offerings, and the alms gifts and creating jobs for people.

How can we not only give if they are incapable of work but how can we create some work and use that as a transition in their life as they move into a full-time vocation through training or applications for jobs? I see this as a wonderful and positive bill because it responds to people in distress but it responds by encouraging and facilitating the blessing and virtues of work, not avoiding it or counting work as a curse.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER THE DIVINE WORK CHRIST HAS DONE FOR US

Praise God for the work that Jesus did. Here we are in need of mercy and what did He do? He shows us mercy by going to work and then He does a work for us to save us. Then He works in us so that we can now work, not for our salvation, but we can work for our Savior in every arena of life.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

12 hours ago

Geneva County Commission strips funding for school resource officer program

The Geneva County Commission has placed the Geneva County School system in a bind after it pulled funds committed to the school resource officer (SRO) program.

Per a Dothan Eagle report, the county commission voted in June to give $15,000 to the SRO program this year, including an additional $60,000 next year.

After commissioners found that the budget would not balance, they realized that the promised funding for the SRO program could not be provided.

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Fred Hamic, chairman of the Geneva County Commission, sent a letter informing Superintendent Becky Birdsong of the decision and included a $15,000 check.

Birdsong said she was “disappointed,” but assured she will work hard to ensure the SRO program remains in place.

“I am disappointed, but I am still committed to doing what’s right for our students,” Birdsong told Dothan Eagle. “We don’t want parents to be concerned that this is going to make our schools less safe. I’m not saying we have the money now, but I am going to work on this and try to secure funding for this.”

Birdsong said that she is working with parents to increase security on school campuses in the schools she oversees.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor and also contributes weekly to The Daily Caller

13 hours ago

Steve Marshall talks liberal tech bias, joins select group of national officials tackling the issue

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Tuesday joined a select group of state attorneys general for “a productive dialogue” led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other Department of Justice (DOJ) officials regarding perceived discrimination against conservatives by leading tech companies.

Per a DOJ release, “The discussion centered on ways the Department and state governments can most effectively safeguard consumers using online digital platforms. Each state attorney general’s office shared their views of the important issues for federal and state authorities to consider when addressing these evolving technologies. The discussion principally focused on consumer protection and data privacy issues, and the bipartisan group of attendees sought to identify areas of consensus.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Marshall – who joined the meeting by teleconference – made it clear that there was a long way to go before reaching a consensus on how to tackle the complicated issues of tech transparency and bias, saying, “To the degree that there was any consensus, it is that we still have a lot to learn about how to best protect consumer interests in this context.”

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“Today I participated in a bipartisan meeting of several state Attorneys General, hosted by Attorney General Sessions, to discuss consumer protection concerns related to the tech industry. The conversation covered many of the same concerns raised in recent Congressional hearings,” Marshall outlined.

He continued, “I appreciated the invitation to participate and was interested to hear the perspectives of the various states represented. To the degree that there was any consensus, it is that we still have a lot to learn about how to best protect consumer interests in this context.”

The DOJ, which was represented at the meeting by Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore and other senior staff, explained, “Many shared the view that it is essential for federal and state law enforcement authorities to work together to ensure that these challenges are addressed responsibly and effectively.”

Sessions’ DOJ will review the information and insights shared by the state attorneys general and expects the constructive dialogue will continue moving forward. Marshall, in an interview earlier Tuesday morning with Talk 99.5’s Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg, made it clear that he prefers a market-based solution as opposed to stifling government regulation.

“It is a field that I think we need to tread very lightly,” Marshall explained. “You look at the ability of government to regulate – I think we do the military well and everything else is a struggle. So I think we need to be very, very careful in how we tread in that regard.”

The argument from some is that social media platforms are like modern-day utilities.

“You hear it coming more from Democratic AG’s across the country … it’s why, I think, you have to be very careful, because the market itself has the ability to regulate and one of the things that we have to do from the government side is do not tread into the world of antitrust lightly,” Marshall outlined.

Alabama’s attorney general used Google as an example, saying consumers have multiple choices in search engines, free online email providers and the web browsers themselves (Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla, etc.).

“It is important, however, when you do hear the stories of internally that Google may be directing people for political purposes that otherwise is not disclosed. That is concerning,” Marshall said.

For Marshall, the questions of whether these tech companies should allow their left-leaning biases to affect consumers “need to be asked, whether or not government needs to get involved in that, however, is a different story.”

Marshall summarized that his overall view is the tech services need to be held accountable to being open and honest with what they are doing and then the market can effectively take care of the rest. If consumers do not like what the services are doing, competition, not the government, should be the counterbalance.

“To the extent that there is transparency, I think it’s a good thing. Across the spectrum, whether it be private business or in government, and in this field particularly, if they are able to respond to questions about how it is that they control content and what they do, then I think we all have knowledge and then can make decisions ourselves,” he advised.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

Strong like Samson, tough like Benaiah and wise like Solomon -Thomas Cox reveals his plan for himself and raising his kids

Finding the time to do everything in a day is tough, but Thomas Cox shared his secrets on “The Ford Faction.”

In this episode, Thomas Cox from Mealfit.co discussed where his parenting techniques come from and how he finds time to execute them. He breaks down the processes he does with each of his children.

First, he teaches them to be strong like Samson. He wants his kids to be strong in many ways: mentally, physically, socially and spiritually.

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Second, Thomas wants his kids to be tough like Benaiah.

He said, “Toughness is one of the biggest parts of our lives we have to get better at so we can adapt to what’s happening around us.”

Finally, you have to be wise like Solomon.

Thomas told host Ford Brown, “I think if you’re not spending a lot of your day on self-development, you are missing the boat.”

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Rep. Byrne: Breaking down Tax Reform 2.0

Since Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last year, the American economy is booming, and Alabama families have more money in their pockets. By lowering taxes and simplifying the tax code, we have unlocked our economic potential and made life better for hardworking Americans.

The economic numbers speak for themselves: higher wages, lower unemployment, more jobs, bigger paychecks, employee bonuses and much more. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the average family in Southwest Alabama will see their tax bill decrease by $2,187 a year.

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The good news is that we aren’t stopping here. This week, the House is expected to vote on additional changes and improvements to the tax code, something we are calling Tax Reform 2.0. Working with President Trump, we will continue to make the tax code even fairer and more competitive.

Tax Reform 2.0 includes three major pieces. Here’s a quick overview.

First, we want to make the tax cuts for small businesses and middle-class families permanent. Due to Democrat obstruction and arcane rules in the Senate, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was only able to lower taxes for ten years. Under Tax Reform 2.0, we will make the tax cuts permanent.

The non-partisan Tax Foundation found that making the middle-class and small business tax cuts permanent will create 1.5 million new jobs and increase gross domestic product (GDP) by 2.2%. This further expands our economy and makes life even better for families and small businesses.

Making these changes permanent, will also lock-in the simpler tax filing process. As you may remember, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act simplified the tax code to the point where many Americans are now able to complete their taxes on a postcard-style form. A Tax Foundation study shows that this will save Americans between $3.1 to $5.4 billion in compliance costs. Instead of needing an accountant to navigate the complicated code, most Americans will be able to file on their own.

Second, Tax Reform 2.0 promotes family savings and helps more Americans plan for retirement. Currently, too many Americans have been unable to save for retirement or put money aside to cover unforeseen emergencies.

We want to help small businesses provide retirement plans to their workers by allowing small businesses to join together to create a 401(k) plan more affordable and by giving employers more time to put new retirement plans in place. Just as important, we will help more workers participate in retirement plans by exempting small retirement accounts from mandatory payouts and by eliminating the age limit on IRA contributions.

We don’t stop there. Tax Reform 2.0 will create and expand additional programs to help Americans save. For example, our plan creates a new savings account to offer a fully flexible savings tool that families can use at any time right for them, expands 529 education savings accounts, and creates a new baby savings program to help with the birth of a new child or an adoption.

Finally, Tax Reform 2.0 will help grow the economy by promoting start-up businesses and spurring innovation. We do this by allowing new businesses to write off more of their initial start-up costs and by making it easier for start-ups to bring in new investors. America must lead the way on innovation.

As you can tell, Tax Reform 2.0 builds upon our efforts in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to ensure the American economy remains strong. We do that by allowing Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets. I fundamentally believe our country is the strongest when money is with the people instead of the government.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

14 hours ago

Ivey, Merrill celebrate National Voter Registration Day – ‘Easy to vote and hard to cheat’

Tuesday is recognized as National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), which Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Secretary of State John Merrill celebrated by encouraging all of the state’s eligible voters to register.

The annual occasion is the largest single-day drive to register voters of the year. Merrill joined hundreds of different partners around the nation to observe NVRD, with Merrill specifically encouraging a “voter refresh” effort to update state voter rolls with correct information about Alabama citizens.

“Since I became Secretary of State, we have registered more than a million new voters who have helped us shatter state records for voter registration and participation in our elections,” Merrill said in a release.

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“But we also want our voter rolls to be up-to-date, so we are urging everyone to take a moment to make sure their current address is correct in the state system. We are pleased to participate in this special day that encourages more participation in our electoral process. We continue to work daily to make sure every eligible U.S. citizen in our state is registered to vote and has a photo ID. We want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Merrill continued.

NVRD, held on every fourth Thursday of September since 2012, is endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors. Since 2012, more than 1.4 million people around the nation have registered to vote or update their registration as part of this event alone. This year, libraries, schools and other partners will hold local voter registration drives.

Since Merrill took office, Alabama has registered 1,064,616 new voters, bringing the state’s total to 3,418,839 as of September 7. Yellowhammer State residents can update their voter registration information by downloading the “Vote for Alabama” app on a smartphone or visiting the Secretary of State website here.

“There is no freedom more integral to this Republic than the right to vote and participate in our democratic process,” Merrill emphasized. “I am so proud we are able to work with the partners involved with National Voter Registration Day to help make increased participation a reality here in the state of Alabama.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn