DISCOMFORT… The “Forgotten” Motivational Lesson


About the author: Luke Hamilton is classically-trained, Shakespearean actor from Eugene, Oregon who happens to be a liberty-loving, right-wing, Christian constitutionalist. When not penning columns for JanMorganMedia.com, Hamilton spends his time astride the Illinois-Wisconsin border, leading bands of liberty-starve ... [read 's FULL BIO]

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Something which is lost in America today is the phenomenon of discomfort. It was once clearly understood that discomfort provides a valuable service in an economy. In one of Benjamin Franklin’s finest quotes he said,

I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not in making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

Franklin understood the motivational power discomfort has on the poor. If poverty causes discomfort, then a poor man is more likely to take actions which move him out of poverty and the discomfort associated with it. But if a poor man is insulated from the discomfort of poverty, what incentive does he have to strive for prosperity?

As a society, America has become increasingly wealthy. Thanks to the free-market capitalist foundation provided by our founders, America has created more wealth than anyone imagined was possible. Consequently, Americans have become inured to the experience of deprivation, preferring instead the idolatrous bosom of Comfort.

This sea change was first codified in FDR’s attempt to create a 2nd Bill of Rights, in which he attempted to calcify specific social privileges as “rights”, equivalent to the rights listed in our original Bill of Rights. These new “rights” included housing, employment, freedom from unfair competition, medical care, education, and social security. In the years following FDR’s failed push to officially codify these socialist planks, Progressives haven’t given up; preferring instead to force them on us via monolithic congressional bills in the form of Social Security, socialized education, and Obamacare.

Like many economic truths, the doctrine of discomfort also has application in the social/moral realm. In many ways, Americans have not eradicated poverty as much as we have translated our economic poverty into moral poverty. Benefitting from the most powerful economic engine of success and innovation in history, our society has been able to effectively stifle economic poverty, as it has been traditionally defined throughout the history of the world until now. The creature comforts of our society have trickled down to even the lowest classes of our society, as the Heritage Foundation described a few years ago in their explosive analysis of “poor” American households. By analyzing households which had been labeled “poor” by the US Census bureau, Heritage found that 80% of them had air conditioning, 75% had a car or truck, 66% had cable or satellite television, and 33% of them had a wide-screen plasma/LED television. Clearly the War on Poverty is making startling strides toward the utopian goal of eliminating economic poverty, but this has seemingly come at the cost of our integrity.

And what about our integrity, as a whole? Unexplainable phenomenon like Anthony Weiner’s continued viability demonstrate that our poverty is now moral instead of economic and we are beginning to insulate those who are morally bankrupt from the discomfort traditionally distributed by the market forces of society. Just as the protection from economic discomfort has produced generations which manufacture discomfort while surrounded by unprecedented provision, those we protect from social discomfort will spawn a new grievance industry which will create protests and complaints which are baseless and unfounded. Economic and social discomfort is vital to the health of a society, functioning just as the nerves of our bodies protect our physical health from harm. If we seek to eradicate discomfort from our nation in the hopes of achieving a progressive utopia, we do so at our own peril.

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  • Mark Gotham

    How true, but I think some of the numbers used here seem a bit low. My section 8, welfare-rat tenants had more creature comforts than my hard-working family!

  • Cajun Wbmc

    Personally, I think the numbers are too low…and I base that from what I’ve seen with my own eyes…

    A few years back, my club was involved with a local civic organization at Christmas time to hand out food boxes to “needy” people…
    I guess my partner and I handed out around 20 Christmas dinners…of the twenty, only ONE, a Korean war vet, was “needy” or “poor”…he lived in an efficiency “apartment” (if you could call it that), on a futon, with a kitchen and a living room/bedroom/dining room…he had a SMALL TV (think 13 inch black and white) with rabbit ears…looked like he hadn’t shaved in a week or better and had next to nothing in the fridge…
    Contrast that to the other 19 hood rats we delivered to. EVERY single one was living in section 8 housing apartment complexes, EVERY single one had either a plasma or an LCD tv in the house…large one’s too…(in fact, one apartment had at least THREE flat screens), EVERY single one had a video game console hooked up to the TV. And EVERY single one REEKED of cigarette smoke…
    In NONE of the 19 was there a male parental presence…
    THAT was the end of THAT. We, collectively as a club, refused to get involved with that program again…

    • DontTreadOnMe11

      I see the same. We have local food bank and on weekends, the “poor” are pulling up in expensive cars and SUV’s. They are dressed in expensive clothes. They come, get their food and return to their sec 8 apts.

      • Wumingren

        Reminds me of the first day I showed up to enroll my daughter in Kindergarten at a public school. After going through all the registration processes, I was about to leave, when a couple of Blacks showed up to register their child (give them credit for being together). The administrator handed them all the same forms she had given me, but then she pulled out one more form, one that was not offered to me.

        That form was for free or reduced-cost breakfast and lunch. Now, just so you get the full picture here, I was dressed in old bluejeans and a T-shirt with holes in it (I’m wearing those same bluejeans right now). I didn’t own a cell phone at the time, and we were living on a very tight budget (and still are living pay check to pay check).

        That Black couple was dressed like they’d just come from a fancy dinner party, he in his tailored suit and she in a fine dress. They looked really sharp. He had a very large gold watch and chunks of gold on his fingers, and she had a lot of jewelry, finely done hair and fingernails, and posh accessories. She pulled out a smart-phone in the middle of it all and started talking nonsense with a girlfriend. Were it not for the coarse language she was talking, I would have mistaken her for an educated professional.

        So, why didn’t the school administrator offer me the forms for free lunches? I guess because I was of the wrong demographic it never occurred to the administrator to relate to me the way she did the Black couple. The true racism resides within those who see the color of a person’s skin and react in predictable ways. All the crud about “white privilege” goes right out the window when one observes the reality of deference paid to “people of color.”

        And, just for making this observation, the liberals reading this will brand me the racist. But it doesn’t stick because I married an Asian woman. I suppose, though, that they don’t count that, because they only see Black skin as the qualifier. Just like the fools who think “bilingual” means speaking only Spanish and English. I speak Mandarin Chinese at the near-native level (also Japanese and Korean), but was scolded by a corporate recruiter for wasting her time for responding to an ad seeking a “bilingual” candidate for a job.

        • calboy147

          You are a bit racist. Apparently only against blacks though. Me for instance i hate to use the term hate but; i hate Philippinos. But that came only after i spent a lot of time in the Philippines.But it does seem you ;as i did; may have come by it honestly.
          Most people; some who have never had a racist thought; see the obvious reverse racism that is taking over America.

          • Our America

            What is your problem with people from the Philippines? All the Philippinos I know, work. Husband and wife. That’s right, the father actually lives with the wife of his children. All of them are caring and loving parents. They are very friendly towards me and I have never had a problem with any of them. Granted I have seen a few males that I wondered about, but that’s with most races. The blacks though, are lazy, loud mouthed, foul mouthed, take advantage of the welfare system and will take anything that’s free. If they cannot get it free then they will steal it. The majority of the crime here in America is committed by blacks. They also have the nastiest attitude I have ever seen. My wife’s sister who lives in Arizona way back in the boonies, has twin daughters. Their school did not have nay blacks in it. No blacks live in their very small town. They went on a trip to Knott’s Berry Farm and when they came back, they were telling their parents about their first encounter with blacks. They said that they were the nastiest, meanest, rudest, most foul mouth people they had ever seen. They said they could not believe the way those blacks acted. They thought that all they had heard about them was not true and that now they believe it. To me they are a useless race. They conduct themselves terribly, and then wonder why people talk about them the way they do. I see it all the time.

          • calboy147

            After living in the Philippines I now believe they are quite possibly the missing link.

      • calboy147

        My oldest friend had a massive heart attack a few years ago and needed some assistance, so i helped him as much as i could then took him to one of the local food outreaches. I saw hundreds of folks who were better off than he and many that were better off than i. None were black or Hispanic but the majority were white drug addicts.

        • Our America

          Hey man, stop your lying. That or you live in an area that’s has no or very, very small amount of blacks.

  • Tim Dinger

    Having run a commercial bakery, I was always amazed that people on food stamps could purchase a $300 cake for a baby shower, and then a year later, order the same cake for the christening. We did not have anything that nice for our wedding. I will never understand how they can be eating shrimp and lobster while working people are eating hamburger and hot dogs.

    • RedGod

      Is it not possible that for events like this, family and friends could pitch in a few bucks to order the cake?

      • Tim Dinger

        Saddest part was that they came in with 3 access cards to get the amount needed to make the purchase.

        • Architect44

          @RedGod … doesn’t matter how many people “ppol” money. It’s ridiculous for people on public assistance to be buying $300 cakes … period. Not saying they can’t have a few nice things … but this is pure excess. A prime example of taking from hard working folks to fund non-necessities for others.

          • Architect44


        • Truth Hurts

          Too bad you cannot refuse service to them. Does the welfare system check into what they buy with their welfare cards? I do not think fancy cakes are allowed. Then again they must have raised enough hell to get what ever they want. I am sick and tired of my tax money going in their lazy, no good for nothing, mooching, hands. I watch them every time I am in a check out line to see how they are paying for their purchases. Everyone here that reads this should too. Educate yourself as to where your money is going.

          • RedGod

            I know here the cards will only work for certain items. Anything that isn’t approved (non-food items and cooked food as far as I know) doesn’t get paid for.

      • Truth Hurts.

        A box of cake mix is a lot cheaper and more personal. But it is not fancy enough for them I guess. Plus they have to work to bake a cake. It’s easier to buy one and then go home and sit on your lazy azz and shove the cake in their kids face and say Happy Birthday, bitc-.

    • Edward Ebersole

      I agree with you there and I believe in what Ben Franklin said when he stated this. Ben Franklin understood it best.

      I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not in making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

    • calboy147

      I do not have a problem with folks using it in a manner that may seem inappropriate on the surface; but is a once in a lifetime special occasion as those you mention. In the early days of my career i found myself doing without a lot of what i thought as necessities to make my children’s important occasions special and memorable. Those folks could have made the same sacrifices as i did.
      The people i am leery of are the ones who came into my custom automotive store and purchased custom wheels and tires with welfare checks.

    • Our America

      They get way too much in welfare benefits. That’s why these welfare queens are so huge. If they have so much food that they end up weighing more then 300 pounds, then they are getting way too much welfare. I myself have a problem with them going to the movies, to fast food restaurants, casinos, also nice restaurants, driving nice vehicles, wearing very nice clothes, their kids wearing 200.00 sneakers, every one of their kids have a smart phone, the mother has a smart phone, etc, etc. Where is all that coming from. I think some of the phones are stolen. I say that because a young black girl bought a used car I had and I entered her phone number in a search engine and it came back as being based in Michigan. I live in Maryland. Welfare is not for them to live a nice life. It is supposed to only help them till they get on their feet. Trouble is, they make no attempt to get on their feet when they live as good as they do. Why is it when you are on unemployment you have to look for work or lose your benefits, but when your on welfare you do not have to find a job? Why is it that welfare recipients received a 30 per cent raise in their benefits and Social Security recipients received only a 1 per cent increase? Plus our military had their benefits reduced. This needs to stop. Welfare is an incentive for them NOT to work. That way the government can control them.

  • mercury

    Charity should be through the family, if you ask me. I would imagine nothing is more uncomfortable than having to ask your brother-in-law or uncle for money. People would rather get a job, than to go through that embarrassing exercise.

    • flyovercindy

      EXACTLY! Not only is it uncomfortable, and hopefully motivational in some way to encourage a self-reliant solution their dilemma, but families who maintain close ties (i.e. remain married, loving and close) WANT to and DO take care of each other, and help each other out.
      …old fashioned, I guess…

    • Truth Hurts

      White people would rather get a job. Some black men do, but the wife’s job is to get welfare and not report that she has a man living with her. Easy to take care of though. All you have to do is report them and welfare has to investigate it. Ever wonder if the blacks that work in the welfare dept. feel compelled to give every black that comes in the office, welfare? They do not want to be looked down on by their fellow blacks if they turn them down. They need to investigate that also. Every applicant should be video taped for accuracy and to prevent fraud.

  • marineh2ominer

    Every penny the government gives to anyone in charity is in fact STOLEN from me , as I agree completely with Benjamin Franklin and Davy Crockett .

  • Joanne Long

    What has always amazed me were the cars they drove. I have an old car no payments had it since it was new, well at least since my son joined the Navy it was his car, he’s out now and married good job he let me keep the car still have. I spent my money on more education and savings. Just go by a welfare office and look at all the new Lexus and Caddies unbelievable.

  • Wumingren

    I worked the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey for two years. I got to see a lot of homes and it was common to see people in Section 8 housing with loads of consumer goods, stuff that I must deny my own kids because we live within our budget. The Somali’s (a hotbed of Muslim terrorist-wannabes) get housing for $25 a month. I don’t know why we need to bring any Muslim refugees to America at all, but we do, and they are not grateful in the least. They’ll soon be blowing themselves and hundreds of innocent bystanders up in the name of their false god. Meanwhile, Muslims worldwide are slaughtering Christians, but we have no refugee programs to allow Christians to immigrate. I guess that must be part of Obama’s “fundamental transformation of America.” The Muslim fundamentalists have declared a holy war on America, but America’s Left has stuck its fingers in its ears and is saying, “Nya-nya! I can’t hear you!” Maybe they’ll hear the explosion immediately before they meet eternity.

  • Architect44

    I’m 49 now but still vividly remember one specific customer that frequented the grocery store where I worked my way thru high school many years ago. She came to our store once a month … only once a month. Our small town store was known for it’s meat department. The lady came in each month immediately after receiving her monthly allotment of food stamps and loaded up on the finest steaks, tenderloin, roasts, etc … only the best cuts. She paid for the entire grocery bill with her food stamps. Mind you, not one staple … milk, eggs, bread, cereal, cheese, etc in her buggy. And every month I carried her groceries out and put them in the trunk of her Cadillac, never once receiving even a nickel tip. No one will ever convince me she wasn’t abusing the system, and living off the backs of other hard working Americans. Not saying everyone on public assistance is like this lady … but I do believe a large majority are.

    • Truth Hurts

      You should have gotten in touch with your local welfare office and told them what you saw. That you believed that she was abusing the system. That’s why so many of them get away with this. Get involved if you want to make a change and are tired of them taking your tax money and giving it to losers like her. Comments on here will not change a thing.

  • genann59

    Excellent article, sir. I agree 100%. Am sharing this with as many of my friends as I can.

  • Capt Parker

    “Charity” is NOT the business of the government, but of the family and community.
    In order to “give charity” to one, you must steal the livelihood from a dozen.

    All in the name of “social justice”.

  • racindavid

    At the local grocery store where I shop I am the ONLY person who buys their own food. And I don’t live in the hood… They have $400 NFL logo jackets on, tons of gold jewelery, $5000 worth of tattoos, $250 tennis shoes, an iPhone, 2 babies and a giant cart of food…. ALL PAID FOR BY YOU AND ME Nice huh ? Ok I gotta get back to work here. It’s only 5:37 on a Friday and as a small biz owner I’m not done for a few hours…

  • Ashley Ayers

    My family is now on assistance. We are working people.
    My husband lost his job 6 months ago after is small company was bought out by a large company.
    He looks for work daily with no luck yet, job interview Monday! We couldn’t afford rent and living expenses. My family of 5 now live with family.
    I got a job making minimum wage.
    Yes we have a SUV, almost paid for but in need of tires and other repairs we can’t afford to get at the moment.
    So we get food stamps $500 a month for 5 people and we make it work.
    We buy bulk meat to last a month along with deer we have already had.
    So while I am sure many abuse the system, many don’t.

    • Clint

      Ashley, hold your head up. I don’t think anyone here is saying that there are no families who genuinely need a hand up. Many of us at one time or the other have needed a helping hand. I know I have, and in America, there should be no shame in that. I think that we have seen so many abuses of the system that many of us have become hardened to the fact that there are families who really need help. Many times it is the truly needy who fall through the cracks. Keep in mind that there is Grand Canyon of difference between a hand up and a hand out. I believe you and your family are like most of us working people in this country, you just want jobs so you can work and support you family. My hat is off to you and your husband. God bless.

    • justbill

      My problem with is with federal gov’t controlling welfare. It should be eliminated and turned over to the states, local charities, churches and of course families. Gov’t programs are nothing but a huge wastes of money and giving employment to slavish sycophants of lib/ prog types in power.

  • calboy147

    I only wish the author had used a photo of one of the fat white fourth generation trash that i have to deal with on a daily basis. Would not fan the flames of racism, and make your statement seem more a budget concern.

    • Clint

      Freeloaders come in all colors. This is not a race thing.

      • calboy147

        You know that and i know that; and most white people know it. It would have been nice of the author to; at least appear; to know it.
        That photo and headline just adds more fuel for the race baiting crowd like the reverends.

  • Elegy56

    I agree with the welfare viewpoint, but how the heck do you know that fine piece of tail was on welfare?

  • calboy147

    You have to also look at the way the government punishes people who try to get off the welfare “Train to Nowhere”. I know a lady whose husband gave her 5 children then decided he just wanted to smoke pot. She tried for years to go back to school, work, and take care of the children on her own. She could not afford child care without a second job, but lost some benefits because her second job showed put her income in another bracket. Every move she made to better herself they had a regulation that made it that much harder to accomplish.

  • Susan

    The reason Marxism is so evil—and dehumanizing (enslaves everyone) is not that it sets up the masses to be slaves of the State, which it does, but it rots their very Soul (Free Will). Not only of those enslaved, but even the souls of the demonic “masters”. It is the total removal of dignity from man and reduces people to godless herded animals with no Free Will, and godless, evil “masters” who can’t see human beings as anything but animals.

  • Last Bastion

    Liberals have pushed the utilitarian position (what would just maximize happiness/well-being) in favor of a virtue-based decision rule: what kind of person do you want to be? Evidently, they have decided to weigh the virtue of honesty over the consequences of them being a little better off at the expense of everyone else.