Then there are terms that are deeply political in orientation, but have not yet been co-opted by either side. One of the more pernicious phrases is the "less fortunate." Politicians on both sides of the aisle routinely utilize this phrase in place of the impolitic "poor" or the dated "lower class." President Obama, for example, ripped Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan as evidence that Republicans think they have "no obligation to people who are less fortunate." President Bush used the same phrase in 2008, when he announced that the United States has a responsibility to help "those less fortunate around the world."
Look more deeply at the content of the phrase "less fortunate," however, and it is easy to see how socialist it truly is. The phrase assumes that anyone who does not succeed in our economic system has somehow been unlucky rather than unwise or foolish. It assumes, conversely, that everyone who is successful has done so via luck of the draw. The upshot of this baleful perspective is that the system is inherently unfair -- skill is not rewarded, nor effort recognized. This sentiment drives government intervention to take luck out of the equation by guaranteeing equal results.
When we say "less fortunate," we generally mean the poor rather than the disabled, who actually are less fortunate. In truth, the poor are generally "less fortunate" only in terms of genetics. They are certainly not less fortunate in the amount of help they receive. They receive generous benefits from the government, and they do not have to pay taxes. The "more fortunate," by contrast, are taxed and regulated heavily.
The "less fortunate" are not less fortunate in terms of their chances in the economy; the government has instituted program after program dedicated to helping those who begin at low socioeconomic status. Class mobility for those of high IQ is widely available. The children of the "more fortunate" are the ones who pay the price for programs like affirmative action and scholarships designed for low-income applicants. In many cases, the "less fortunate" get to spend their days watching television rather than participating in educational endeavors, as studies tend to show.
The truly "less fortunate" are those who are less fortunate in terms of brains. Studies show that they have a lower IQ level than those who are more mobile. This does not suggest some grand inequity in the system, however it merely suggests that nature does not create all men equal in their abilities.
The question is how society can rectify those imbalances, or if we actually should. The answer is clearly yes in some cases; everyone agrees that the mentally and physically disabled deserve societal protections. But if we get rid of the incentive for the non-disabled to work hard by giving them excuses not to do so, like attempting to provide equal outcomes for the non-equally gifted, we destroy the capacity for true class mobility. The beauty of a free society is that someone slightly less gifted who works harder than usual can rise; the burden of a free society is that someone slightly less gifted is expected to work harder than usual. The socialist society, however, is problematic on all fronts. With no incentive to work hard, those of all gift levels simply stop working.
When it comes to the "less fortunate," then, we must be careful about whom we are speaking. If we mean the poor, we must distinguish between the poor who are truly less fortunate, and those who are not. If we do not unpack the term, we run the risk of forwarding the socialist agenda without even knowing it.
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