Welfare: Safety Net or Alternative Lifestyle?
Many of those who would never favor collectivism over capitalism believe that an important role of government is to provide a safety net in the event its citizens fail to be able to support themselves. Woodrow Wilson believed this, Karl Marx did too. Taft did not. Updating the argument to more recent politicians, Ronald Reagan did not believe it. Barack "Spread the wealth" Obama certainly does believe in Marxism as does Hilary "it takes a village to raise a child" Clinton. John McCain believed it too as do most of the current democrat / communists.
It is hard to argue with the romanticism, ideal and morality of caring for those who can't make it on their own. When we do we are seen as heartless and cruel. We can't blame the homeless drunkard for living in the street - society didn't provide him a suitable job. We can't blame the single mother for not being able to provide for her child, it isn't her fault the father isn't providing, and the children must not suffer because it certainly isn't the child's fault. We can't even blame the terrorist for bombing our buildings, we must have done something wrong to anger him. We never hold the perpetrators responsible, we look for reasons to blame the victims.
Those of us who stand on the rational principle of individual responsibility are regarded as evil and callous. We would allow children to starve, elders to die, homeless to freeze, and if one ever got lost and wandered into our yard, we would eat little lost cocker spaniel puppies for breakfast. When we argue that it is not a valid function of government to interfere in personal emergencies, no matter how dire the circumstance, we are just plain selfish and uncaring. We are the people who deserve no voice in the process because we have no heart.
Do recipients want this support because it exonerates them of the obligation of supporting their own children? Isn't it more likely that they want this governmental aid to relieve themselves of accountability for themselves? This is the worst kind of selfishness; a selfishness that demands the forced sacrifice of others to oneself.
Proper Role of Government
We argue that providing a safety net for individuals it is not a proper role of government. It is the obligation of the head of the family to prepare for personal emergencies, not that of the head of state. Other families and charities may choose to help out if they wish. It is not the role, nor is it the moral obligation of government to financially punish one citizen in favor of another by mere virtue of the other's need, perceived or legitimate, regardless of how hopeless the situation. It is just not their proper function.
Most disagree with this strict approach of providing nothing to individuals. They argue reasonably that in specific situations it can't be avoided. It is also true that most disagree with the excessive policies and welfare programs in effect today that result in a dependent society from cradle to grave for a large portion of our citizenry. It is a big problem for all of us. So what do we do? Is there a middle ground on which we can compromise?
Hard liners like us could accept the use of a safety net provided by government, if it were really just that and not a readily available alternative lifestyle choice. There are some real cases in which no assistance from family or charities are available. We could argue that God will provide in those cases, and if He doesn't want to maybe He has His reason.
We have to admit though that God is no guarantee. We don't expect anyone to believe in Him, and we don't want to force our belief on anyone. It is not a requirement to follow the logic. So if we must have a government required safety net, it has to be temporary.
If a safety net were seriously limited to only the most urgent and brief need, those of us on the right could actually accept it. We wouldn't like it maybe, but we could accept a temporary net. By that we mean brief, transitory, short-term, an end scheduled, safety net, after which it is over. After all, we can't like everything our government does to us. We still believe that it is not the proper and valid role for a government to support one citizen at the expense of another. If it must be done, we could reluctantly agree that in certain situations, and for a temporary period those of us who are in short-term critical personal difficulty could fall into the net.
What happens when problems arise? People will notice the nice comfortable net sitting there. Many will look for a reason to jump into the soft cushy net because it seems easier than the alternative of getting up for work every day and paying one's own bills. Why work if we don't have to? Once in the safety of the net, they tend to look for a reason to prolong the stay as long as they can. If we could figure out a way to limit that, we would be fine - but we have proven we have difficulty setting those kinds of limits. We just can't say "no". That is why hard liners just say no to all of it – it is too easy for it to quickly get out of control.
When too many people fall into any net, it will become overcrowded and stretch its strength limits. A net can only hold so much. We will need a new, bigger, stronger net.
When the safety net government provides becomes a way of life for many, we all lose. We have more and more people who want to get into it rather than out of it. Why not? The net is safe, it is secure; there is no heavy lifting in the net. There is not a lot of luxury, but not a lot of work either. The flip side is those netters have plenty of time to do what they want, as long as it doesn't cost a lot of money. Time is valuable. Few want less free time, we all want more.
If a safety net were to be eliminated, we could live with it. It can't be removed all at once, it is too heavy now. It must be a process. Those falling into it must have a way out of it too, or be kicked out. We still wouldn't agree that it is a valid role of government, but we could accept it and live with it within very strict limits. It is certainly superior to offering an alternative lifestyle of permanent dependency burdening all of the productive among us. It won't be easy to change this, but we do offer a few ideas later.
It seems that our second hundred year decline was built on treachery, greed, dishonesty, and admittedly some well-intentioned but misguided socialist theory. We can't stop people from being dishonest or seeking power, but as a society we can slowly reverse the engines of our national ship and head back in the right direction.
It won't take a century to unravel this mess, but it will not be as quick as some of us may want. An armed revolution would be much quicker, but if we have patience we can change thought process back to where it once was when we were strong and free. Though we have to do it slowly, peacefully, we can't wait to start. We need to transform thought, just as progressives did.
It should be easier for us though because we have honesty, integrity, responsibility, logic and freedom on our side. We are right, we don't have to lie. People tend to prefer to live under our concept of freedom and individual responsibility. It is pretty clear that it makes for free and prosperous living.
We don't have to try to fool anyone as to what we really believe. We do need to articulate our ideas more eloquently to sell them better. That isn't easy when it comes to patriotic ideals which tend to lean towards hard work, freedom and personal responsibility. It takes a little more effort than rocking gently on your publicly-funded porch waiting for a government check. To many, less work and government protection is more important since it means they don’t have to try all that hard or to risk failure.
In everyday life we see this change in thought process from honesty and integrity to a philosophy of selfish righteous indignation. If someone else has it, I want it. If someone is more successful, I want an advantage to make it fair to me.
We have seen the dishonesty in sports too. Dozens of professional athletes have been caught cheating with performance enhancing drugs. Why? It is simple. They believe that their personal goals are superior to that of the group. Human nature. They never admit that. No - they almost invariably claim that they took the drugs to get back from an injury quicker because it was their duty to help their team win, that was what they were being paid for and didn't want to let their teammates down. They claim they are more concerned about their team than themselves and we are to swallow that it has nothing to do with that $20 million contract extension he was about to sign. (A man always has two reasons…)
Who among us could honestly say that we would not do steroids if it might have meant the difference between a minor league contract and a $100 million long term major league deal? Could many of us honestly claim we wouldn't do it? It is human nature to want to be the best, to have the most. But outright cheating? Not so sure about that, but in today's corrupt moral society, why not? In athletics many cheat because they believe so many others cheat. They believe that if they are all cheating, then the playing field is level. They cheat to stay in the big-time, get the mega-money and for the benefit of their family.
If the teams had serious punishments for cheating, for example voiding of contract, or banishment, the players would not do it. Since they don't and others were cashing in big by using the PED's, then the argument now becomes in order to compete I have to do it too or I don't have a job.
This sounds a lot like the logic behind entitlement programs. If the other guy is getting money, and he is about in your situation, why not you too? Everyone cheats some nowadays - don't they? Figure out a way not to work; work under the table and collect unemployment; collect welfare when you could work; even disability payments to the relatively healthy. Aren't we all in some way disabled, hurt or disadvantaged so we are entitled by birth to receive some of that money the government grows on its trees?
Many millions of dependent Americans today not only don't mind accepting the forced charity of their working citizen brothers, they demand it. They believe that the money earned by others belongs to themselves merely because they exist.
We all have to admit that times change, and people change with them. It is interesting and astounding at the same time to look at the shocking metamorphosis in the accepted morality of our nation over the last century. Our mission now is to change it back. We have gone from an industrious, self-dependent society to a nation willing to support an ever increasing number of lay-about loafers and cheaters. There seems to be no end to the amount of government largesse to which we will allow ourselves to be victimized.
What happened? How did we go from the old dirt farmer too proud to accept a crumb of food he didn't earn to a nation of parasites, loafers, whiners, moochers and cheaters?
It took a long time to get here. It was a very gradual transition, (like the BLOB absorbing everything in its path) but there are many who have awoken to the decline and are poised to stop it. We can't help what happened in the past, but the future is up to us. Whether it was a contrived plot by the rich and powerful at the turn of the century, or a coincidental slide into socialistic tendencies as happens to most nations, it doesn't matter. What does matter is what we do from here.