A common argument used by conservative shitheads who do not wish to pay the “enormous” costs of welfare to people other than themselves is that if welfare transfers to the poor were eliminated, small organisations that are formally known as charities would pick up the slack. Aside from the usual stupidities associated with this argument, it is well worth examining a few concepts associated with it. For one thing, the idea that privately run, disparate, and highly specialised charities can collectively replace a centrally organised and carefully planned system of allocations is laughable at best and complete bullshit at worst. Furthermore, because charities are only beholden to the people that finance them, impartiality is a big problem. A certain “charity” in America, for example, refuses to even talk to the people that it makes most of its money by claiming to represent, not even allowing them a spot at the table, so to speak. If a government organisation were to treat the people that it claimed to represent in this manner, the media would go after it with a vengeance.
But by far the most serious problem with charity is that it is not even a piss into an ocean compared to the needs of the persons who benefit from actual government social investment. Whilst the amounts given vary between countries, America is pretty typical in that most analyses of giving and expenditure reveal that Americans would have to contribute ten times as much to charity as they do at present just to equal the amount that government services redistribute to all classes (including, let us not forget, the rich). Even if one limited the elimination of welfare and the replacement with charity to the poorest twenty percent of the populace, the chances of charity properly replacing welfare are so close to none as makes no odds.
And it is not a coincidence that years of conservative propaganda have taught us to think of welfare as something dirty, needed only by lesser Human beings. As I have hinted numerous times already, every member of modern society from the poorest to the richest, receives welfare to some degree or other. And contrary to what seems to be popular belief, the majority of the total welfare distributed by governments goes to corporations, not the poor. Do the corporations seriously expect us to believe that once the government complies with the oft-repeated request to eliminate welfare to the poor, they will give up their share of the welfare pie? Yeah, and I might grow another foot between now and the day I die. The actual reality is that welfare as it actually exists in our world is an investment in changing the conditions in which the people that make up our society live.
Which brings me to the point of this post. Ever since the legalisation of corporate political action committees, more and more welfare has been redirected to wealthy corporations at the expense of everyone else. And as tends to happen when things are taken from everyone else to benefit the wealthy, the poorest and most vulnerable are hit the hardest.
Recently in Australia, there has been much talk about expanding the so-called universal healthcare system to include funding to adapt services for the disabled. But of course, the conservatives do not want it, saying that it will cost too much, that they will have to raise taxes or charges, et cetera ad nauseam. And yet they wonder why authors like Michael Moore, to name but one example, write things like a prayer to afflict the comfortable. Because I can promise the folk in the ivory towers that the more they try to tell us that we should not be helped out of a miserable situation, the more we are going to wish the problems we face upon them. If every single one of them were suddenly divested of their wealth and then forced to deal with a daily struggle just to live, you had better believe their attitude to setting things up so that people can at least not have to live in their own filth several days out of the week would change dramatically.
One concept that Robert Heinlein popularised is that of paying things “forward”. That is, rather than giving back to the person that has given something to you that you need, give what you have in excess to “some other brother that needs it” (as written in Between Planets). That, in a nutshell, is what social services, welfare, and other such economic supports in our world should be about. But even if one takes the position of the conservative shithead and determines that one should “earn” everything that they have for themselves, the question of how a person comes into the position to do so must be asked. Only an absurdly overprivileged shithead could even begin to think that they were born knowing everything that they need to know in order to make their life liveable. Heinlein said a lot of things that I find to be flat out wrong (the whole thing about an armed society being a polite society is a good example). But the idea of giving to others to make up for what has been given to you is one belief he and I would have very much in common.
Unfortunately, when people have too much of a given resource, irrespective of what that resource might be, their tendency is to hoard it rather than allow others to use it to balance deficiencies. This is especially the case with money. In the hysterically awful Steven Seagal starrer On Deadly Ground, Seagal‘s “character” is seen to ask a character played by Michael Caine how much money is enough. In previous times, the poor and the middle class have often been taught to regard having enough money to feed themselves and those they care for, especially their children, as being enough. But as the economic polarisation that has been taking place for the past thirty years continues, it is getting to a point where many people who work the hardest have the most trouble paying for the basics. This, unfortunately, is the case even with protective services like the police or the army, without whom the wealthiest of us would have far more difficulty keeping their hands on their overall wealth.
Paying your police and soldiers more, therefore, should be considered investment rather than charity. Pay people in these professions enough that they can easily afford house payments, a car, and ample food without having to send the spouse out to work, and they will be more enthusiastic about doing their job. People who cannot afford the basics in spite of how much effort they make tend to be a lot less enthusiastic about what they do. But the thing is that even when a powerful entity is shown facts that prove an investment to be wise, selfishness means that a strong hand has to force them to make the investments they need to make but fail to understand the benefit of. This is where the taxman came in during the era of the baby boomers, and where he failed us during the eMpTyV generation.
That, in a nutshell, is why social services should be looked upon as an investment in the future, as opposed to acts of charity. Charity does not improve the conditions and health of the people who most need external support to accomplish such. Welfare and social services, when adequate to the tasks they are intended for, does. This is why countries that have the highest level of poverty amongst the disabled in the entire OECD should be ashamed of themselves, not tooting about how lucky people are to live there. If you understand facts like these, then congratulations, you are worth the effort to write for.
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