Everything we do in life, whether it be flipping off a police officer, firing a gun, or scratching one’s face, has an objective in mind. The dying art of social services is no different. In a society where competition is emphasised over cooperation to an excessive point, there are always going to be people who have difficulty fitting into a social group, or a society as one might call it. And over the past thirty or so years, the emphasis has shifted so far toward competition that it is getting more like a fight with axes or meat cleavers than a licensed boxing match. Which means that social services are strained to the point of breaking, and beyond.
So many people who should know better will tell you that we do not need social services, and that people who cannot find work or make ends meet are just lazy, bad, stupid, et cetera, ad nauseum. Unfortunately, the truth is far more complicated, and far worse, than that. Becoming physically disabled is something that no sane Human being ever aspires to, but like many things of that nature, it is so easy that when it does happen, one’s first reaction is to stand around wondering what the fukk you did wrong.
Imagine for a second that you are a very able-bodied twenty-something who thinks nothing of walking from one end of a city’s central business district to another. Imagine that you have been having trouble with the process of securing work for a myriad of reasons, including poor educational outcomes due to abuse that has not been documented. Imagine you are sitting across a table from a rehabilitation service worker whom you have been going to for help in overcoming these barriers. Imagine they tell you, and this is an exact quote, “you can’t work”. I only wish I were making that up. When one can walk and scratch their own arse without difficulty, such a statement tends to prompt all kinds of responses. Questions about whether I am supposed to tell that to the people I owe money, how I am going to be able to afford to live under my own power, and such come to mind.
But I will tell you an ugly little secret about social services in English-speaking countries. This means America, the so-called United Kingdom, and Australia, for purposes of this discussion. The social services system in these countries is not designed to help lift or boost people out of poverty. It is deliberately designed to keep them there. Because a populace that does not have constant worries about whether they can afford to eat is a populace that has time to create, to learn, to think, and to question. So the powers that be, or the richest quintile of the population as we formally call them, have decided that the level of income inequality in one country should be so high that only a bunch of African nations in near-anarchy are worse in this respect. Or that out of the 27 nations that make up the OECD, one of these countries ranks dead last in rates of poverty for individuals living with a disability. The first of these guilty parties will tell you that they are number one until they are blue in the face. The second will repeat the words “lucky country” until you want to punch the next person you hear saying either of those words until their brains leak out of their ears.
And then there are people who want us to believe that welfare for the poor or even the middle class is a serious drag on a country’s economy. In reality, it is barely even a blip on the radar. Compared to what every English-speaking nation spends on weapons of war, corporate welfare (more on this anon), and intensive propaganda efforts designed to make the voters feel they are part of the process, programs like unemployment benefits, aid to poor families with dependent children, or disability pensions, are so close to nothing as to make no odds.
Where the biggest drain on public resources, in all of the English-speaking countries, exists is in corporate welfare. Corporate welfare is, in simple terms, the diversion of tax dollars in order to alleviate the costs that corporations incur by doing business. Corporations use just as many resources in terms of units as do their entire employee pool and those who own them. And the whole rub is that whilst they are keen on taking and using those resources, they do not seem to understand why the people who do not derive direct benefit from their existence want them to pay for those resources.
And that means a lot of resources. I do not know where the rich get this idea that they should have their wealth and property guarded for free, but not only does the effort exhausted on doing so eclipse the effort expended upon protecting the funds of the poor or middle class, it eclipses any return that society gets from doing it for free. Which means that someone else has to pay for it. That someone is currently anyone who is not in the top one percent of incomes, and in the case of the lower forty percent, their second jobs.
Another sad fact that anti-welfare dills do not seem to grasp is that any society that maintains a significant percentage of its populace in poverty suffers tangible economic costs as a result. Despite the impression one may get from tales like Conan The Barbarian, adversity only makes a person stronger up to a point. If adversity continues for long enough, it will kill us. And adversity in the critical development phase (ie the first fifteen or so years) of a person’s life will stunt how they grow through the rest of their life. This is one of many reasons why countries that pay welfare the most generously (European and especially Scandinavian countries) also tend to have the lowest levels of persistent poverty. Because adversity tends to perpetuate itself unless someone intervenes and puts a limit upon the time for which adversity affects a person. In different words, that was the rationale for such great accomplishments of the welfare state as Social Security or the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944.
Every society, from wealthy ones like America or Scandinavia, to extremely poor ones like most of Africa, can only be as strong as their weakest link. This is reflected in the fact that whilst many African nations are kleptocratic like South Africa, and others are in virtual anarchy like Somalia, the life expectancies in such nations are only about two thirds those of Scandinavian countries. This is not to say that countries like Norway or Sweden are without problems. As novels like Män som hatar kvinnor attest, those nations do have problems, and big ones. But what makes all of the difference is that countries like Norway and Sweden (and, for that matter, most of Europe) acknowledge their problems and try to get the wheels turning on solving those problems. Countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and America, do not. Americans in particular have a talent for denial and substitution. Even after decades of deregulation in multiple industries have left nearly all such industries as oligopolies or, worse yet, monopolies, Americans will seriously tell you that the solution is… more deregulation!. As if we need more evidence that there are too many Humans on this planet.
Which brings me to why inappropriate or insufficient help is not preferable to no help. For one thing, when you are in receipt of no help, there is a vague glimmer of hope that one might come along and offer the sort of help you really need. When it starts to become evident that the help one is being offered is not appropriate or sufficient to one’s needs, it dashes whatever hope is left. Because outside observers will tell them that they should be grateful to get any help, even when this attitude is having a deleterious effect upon their life. Hence, if one cannot be bothered taking the time to determine what help a person needs, and how best those needs be matched, there is no point in bothering.
Just because an autistic adult is capable of doing the very basic things necessary to sustain his life such as shop for food, cook it, or eat without aid does not mean he should be denied help with figuring out what foods to source for a healthier life, maintaining a proper allocation of time for things like exercise, and so forth. Just because deficits in capability may be smaller or less crippling does not mean they should not be addressed. Nor does it mean that they do not need to be addressed. Because if you neglect a person for long enough, conditions can and will deteriorate. Growing old with your most serious problems ignored does not make you stronger. It ends up making you old, lonely, feeble, and bitter. Just like I believe the grandfather who did live to see me born was made the way he is, I believe that this much concerted effort to keep me desperate and unhappy can only be made with a goal in mind. The question I have is what the enemy can possibly fear so much about me that they will not even allow me the very basics.
In conclusion, that is why having no help is preferable to help that is inappropriate or insufficient to one’s needs. I hope you understand better why I believe this after reading. If not, go to hell, basically.
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