Thursday, June 16, 2005

What's so bad about helping others?

What's so bad about social services?

I'm one of those people drawing government aid in a time of need. When the secret slips in a casual conversation, I find myself to be the dirty pox leaching off of one's political skin. I can understand that perhaps there are some out there abusing various systems that might give the majority that are deserving a bad name. I can even understand a bit of the secret annoyance of those paying in to the system as most aren't thrilled with the idea of money they might not ever see. Sometimes I feel the need to confess my dirty little secret in a conservative conversation in a futile attempt to prove that their money is in fact helping real people instead of being some greater part of a liberal conspiracy or minority theft.

In my case, I received health care benefits during my pregnancy that now provide for my child the greatest chance of a healthy start. I also receive funded child care allowing me to work and thus to pay back in to the system as a fiscally functioning member of society. Another low income friend of mine received grants for school that aided her in obtaining her recent graduate degrees (again, ensuring her financial return to society). The only person I know that receives aid without the possibility of eventual fiscal contribution was born too severely crippled to ever work, and I somehow don't feel so guilty about my tax dollars going to help him.

I was researching what makes others see people like me as a political injury this morning. I came across this fabulous website that the "liberal" might find interesting. Here's one lovely idea:

"I am not going to make the leap and say that Democrats are Socialists, they are not. But the laws they try to pass occasionally are. When the government is asked to provide and manage socialized retirement funds, medical services, automobile insurance, and other basic services it is usually a Democratic sponsored bill. These are socialist party laws enacted in a capitalist nation. They have never worked, even in socialist nations (such as the former Union of Solviet Socialist Republics (USSR). It bankrupted their government so you will see me get a little biased on this subject."

What about Canada?

Here's another fun quote:

"Democrats have a tendency to support bringing all people to one class, bring the rich down and elevate the poor; mostly because it gains votes. Telling the poor that they should blame the rich for their lot in life (making the successful look evil) works quite effectively. There can never be only one class of people. There will always be, and in most countries are, at least two classes; the haves and the have nots. In the US we have the lower, the middle, and the upper class. You can’t make everyone middle class, it just isn’t possible.This is why Republicans tend to be middle and upper middle class and successful (rich) families while Democrats are often lower middle class down to poverty levels."

This made me think of that funny notion someone once had that whites and blacks could ever live together.

My handicapped friend isn't blaming "successful" families for his place in life, My friend "the graduate" isn't attending Socialist parties, and I'm not going to grace the "haves" with the thought that I'd ever blame them for conceiving the greatest little event of my life.

So what's so bad about helping others?


Blogger Jack Mercer said...

Hi Curfew!

Safety nets are good. Safety supports are not. First, they create dependence, and second they alleviate one of responsibility.

In your case, social services are good--but when they rob the individual of independence and responsibility, they rob one of self-respect.

Lived in Canada. It is a bankrupt nation largely dependent on the United States. Democrats and Republicans in our government alike are largely socialistic.

There is nothing wrong with doing for others, but there is something fundamentally wrong with being forced to.

Good read, Curfew!



2:25 PM  
Blogger curfew said...

Hi Jack,

Thanks for the kind comment and informative discussion. What "safety net" is a better option?

Slowly learning,


3:51 PM  
Anonymous Jack Mercer said...

Hi Curfew!

I think America's primary problem is appropriate enforcement. For example, I was an administrative law judge who judged disability cases with Social Security. As you know, disability is really needed, and all of those who work pay into the insurance program that it is (except for SSI). The problem is that there are thousands upon thousands on disability who are not disabled. Even if one were to report them, tell the Social Security agency that they are even working under the table, the response is always the same--nothing! Now if we take that into consideration, then we have a government creating programs with criteria that mean absolutely nothing. So the safety net becomes a welfare enabler. The program becomes MUCH more expensive than it should be, premiums (taxes) rise, and the benefit to those who really need it is much lower than it should be.

The personal examples you cite, however, really don't fit well into these catagories. There are some wonderful programs out there, fairly well run, and helping many people who genuinely need it--but for every good program, there is another which is being sustained so that some government bureacrat can keep his comfy, high-paying, do-nothing job.

So one has to look very careful at safety nets and make sure they maintain that definition. When that ceases, then the program is suspect.

Nice talking to you!


P.S. Haven't seen a lot of posts from you. Hope you continue. I am a Neolibs fan, and always enjoy everyone on here. All of them are great people.

Take care!

7:14 PM  
Blogger mochi said...

Curfew, lets grab a drink.

8:16 PM  
Blogger SheaNC said...

Curfew, I, too, have a "dirty little secret" that is not too far removed from yours: I work in social services, providing help for those who need it. I have also been a recipient of social services (the dislocated worker program - successful).

Please don't be discouraged by those who claim that social services are bad things. Of course there is room for improvement; that is true of everything from left-wing causes like social services to right-wing causes like the global weapons industry. People who disparage social services are quick to point out examples of failed policies, but just try pointing out to them some equally devastating failures of capitalism, or consequences of the lack of social services, and just watch the steam shoot out of their ears and listen for the train-whistle sounds. If you compare the cost in terms of human suffering, there's a good case to be made that social services can do more good for society as a whole than full-blown capitalism.

You know, another dirty little secret is that the "blue" states pay more taxes, while the "red" states use more tax money in the form of welfare, etc. So, when those "conservatives" find themselves in trouble, we're here to help them get through it. And we do.

12:57 AM  

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