Social Programs For The Poor: Open Question To The Left


As I was typing this one single question, I thought of  more:

  1. Does your definition of “poor” predicate itself on things needed to live?  Or does it involve definitions based on relative wealth?
  2. If the government capital “O” Ought provide for the poor, does this include those who choose to put themselves in that group of people defined in question #1?
    1. I.E. If a person chooses to be poor, is the government still bound by the Ought?
  3. If you could compel a citizen to work in a pure socialist state, why can’t you do the same in this one?
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6 comments
  1. dedc79 said:

    These are pretty complicated questions. What it means to be poor is a lot different than what it was to be poor in the past (or what it means in other countires). Starvation isn’t nearly as much of an issue here as it used to be (or as it is in africa) but nutrition is still a major issue relating to poverty in the U.S.

    An item like a television that was once out of reach to the poor is now much more affordable but at the same time, you can now buy a tv for the cost of one uninsured trip to the doctors office for your child. Health care is completely out of reach for the poor (other than via medicare/medicaid).

    Similarly, education has gotten so expensive that it is essentially impossible for a poor person to go to college/grad school without a scholarship or some other financial assistance. Lack of educational opportunities has to be one of the greatest obstacles for poor people trying to dig themselves out of poverty.

    I’ll add one more observation. I think it is very legitimate/important to explore ways in which to help those who are poor rise up out of poverty without rewarding bad behavior. What I don’t agree with are attempts to assure the haves in america that the have nots brought it upon themselves.

    • pino said:

      nutrition is still a major issue relating to poverty in the U.S.

      I agree.

      An item like a television that was once out of reach to the poor is now much more affordable

      Virtually all “items” associated with poverty are accessible. Or will be in 10 years.

      Health care is completely out of reach for the poor (other than via medicare/medicaid).

      Nearly half of the poor spend an amount of money on the lottery that could otherwise buy an insurance policy.

      https://tarheelred.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/how-to-afford-health-care/

      What I don’t agree with are attempts to assure the haves in america that the have nots brought it upon themselves.

      I fully am on board with this.

  2. 1. As a political scientist I say that on issues of wealth, everything is relative. Someone living like a relatively well off third world villager in the US would have a totally different experience of his or her material conditions. One reason for social welfare programs is to maintain social stability (prevent a revolt, high crime, etc.) Relative poverty drives political discontent and crime. So poverty is necessarily relative.

    2. As a general rule, government should not “care for” the poor, but work to help the poor help themselves. That means access to quality education, health care, the same legal and social protections, and opportunities for children. For those with problems now, I’d argue that it should not be government giving to the poor, but a partnership. I’d prefer social welfare be based on community organizing, whereby recipients are required to give something back in terms of community building and service. In some cases that will be impossible, but building community is a way to help a group of people develop social conditions to improve their lives and better model how to succeed to children. 2a. Those who do not choose to participate in this should not get more than the basics (education, health care, police/fire protection), and if they have children, they may lose them.

    3. Compel to work? I’d say the above at least makes aid contingent on work, as these community building activities will often involve real work (and can include day care providing and other services as well).

    This would be a whole new model of social welfare, but one I think would actually succeed in liberating the poor from a cycle of on going poverty and create conditions whereby the children will better learn through community organizing. The community organizer should be the most important figure in combating poverty.

    • pino said:

      So poverty is necessarily relative.

      I may or may not agree. However, if we are determining poverty to be “relative” we must acknowledge that we will always have “the poor”. There will always be a gradient from richest to poorest.

      Whatever goal our program has in mind ought keep that in mind.

      As a general rule, government should not “care for” the poor, but work to help the poor help themselves. That means access to quality education, health care, the same legal and social protections, and opportunities for children.

      I agree. And, to be fair, don’t think is a common theme coming from the Left and speaks well to your centrist beliefs.

      Those who do not choose to participate in this should not get more than the basics (education, health care, police/fire protection), and if they have children, they may lose them.

      I am fine with the idea of the individualist “native who shuns society and gets eaten by the lion.

      I have also toyed with the concept that perhaps we need to license parenthood.

      This would be a whole new model of social welfare, but one I think would actually succeed in liberating the poor from a cycle of on going poverty and create conditions whereby the children will better learn through community organizing.

      I think that aid should be contingent upon work as well. Put those on the receiving end to labor and they would quickly find better labor.

  3. 1. I’m more concerned with things needed to live than relative wealth. As I think we’ve discussed before, I used to say, “I don’t care one iota about inequality, I care about how many people live in poverty.” But there’s a cascade of studies showing that inequality has a whole bunch of other bad effects, so I don’t say that anymore.

    2. I don’t see the policy relevance of someone who chooses to live in poverty. If there’s a showing that this is a common enough choice that we have to design policy accordingly, let’s deal with it, but I haven’t seen that.

    3. I don’t understand what you’re getting at here; sorry. What is the relevance of these “pure socialist” societies you’re talking about to policy in the US?

    • pino said:

      I’m more concerned with things needed to live than relative wealth. As I think we’ve discussed before, I used to say, “I don’t care one iota about inequality, I care about how many people live in poverty.” But there’s a cascade of studies showing that inequality has a whole bunch of other bad effects, so I don’t say that anymore.

      Hmm…I don’t know if I understand the answer.

      It sounds kinda like both. Can you explain further?

      If there’s a showing that this is a common enough choice that we have to design policy accordingly, let’s deal with it, but I haven’t seen that.

      I used to live in Seattle and worked downtown. Like, RIGHT downtown. We were a Cajun joint that sold Cajun food; beans and rice and bread. Cheap stuff. Pioneer Square became a neighborhood community of types for me. I would “hire” the street to “clean my windows” or “wash my tires”. Many many time I would “hire” the guy to move the stacks of beer from here to there. Then, after having someone sweep, I would hire someone new to move the beer back.

      Often I would take my dinner out to the corner and bring with me much extra food. I had homeless friends, we called them “Papa” and “Grandpa”. We smoked, drank and ate on that street corner. When grandpas went to the hospital my and my buddy would go visit him. To the staff’s credit, when they asked us if we were family, we said “we’re all he’s got” and they let us in.

      I offered “Papa” full access to my resources. My apartment, my address, my phone whatever. I’d help him write a resume, buy clothes, get a haircut…..

      He simply looked at me and said, “Why would I wanna do that? I have everything I want here.”

      He wasn’t mentally ill. He was sharp and witty and present. He just decided on a different life.

      In Seattle, I got the feeling that there were more than just a few of people like him.

      What is the relevance of these “pure socialist” societies you’re talking about to policy in the US?

      I am convinced that there are enough people who think that we should flat out redistribute income. I wanna tickle that concept out some.

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