A strong society takes care of its weakest members

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A strong society takes care of its weakest members

Ilgari at the Automatic Earth is one of my favorite bloggers.  His post today hit the nail right on the head.  Here's an excerpt:

Resources that might still have been used to build some kind of shelter from the storm are instead incessantly being wasted not on building solid foundations but on decorative gargoylic elements for the rooftop, never mind that the supporting walls have crumbled beyond any call at recognition or redemption. Are you realy hungry enough for good tidings to set your own house on fire?

What this will lead to, and indeed already has, is levels of poverty, both in scope and in depth, which we haven't seen in a long, long time. And which, unless we act to halt their advance, will blow our communities and societies to smithereens from the inside.

When I say that you can judge the quality of a society by the way it takes care of its weakest, many if not most Americans will immediately think of the word "socialism", even as they don't know what it means. But it's not about partisan political choices, about freedom, or the pursuit of happiness, or about big government. It's very simply about minimum requirements for a functional society, period. You can't have tens of millions of people being unemployed and/or living below the poverty line for extended lengths of time without resorting to oppressive measures of physical force aimed at keeping down those who have landed in your gutters. And if you would choose that option, one that many Americans would, knowingly or not, support, then freedom takes on the meaning of "the freedom to repress others", or even "the freedom to repress whoever you can", and down the line, as the single logical outcome, Orwell's "some animals are more equal than others". 

While elements of this notion may seem to have much appeal to many of those who remain standing for now, don't be fooled. Unless you want to see soldiers and tanks overflowing your neighborhoods, not providing for your weakest is not an option. And no, you won't feel just as happy about your life, and that of your families, if and when on your way to work you’re forced to pass by children starving by the side of the road while clasping a shotgun in your lap. A functioning society, whatever political label you might prefer to stick on it, is possible only when its members manage to suppress the temptation to take so much for themselves that too little to survive is left for their neighbors.

It's not about politics.  It's about the survival and strength of our society.  Unfortunately it's already obvious that political dogma, inspired by fear and ignorance, is more powerful than common sense.

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

It's extremely ironic that he sights Orwell.
Social programs are almost directly responsible for the economic mess we're in.

Carter's Community revettment act started the ball, that was further exacerbated by Clinton Era programs.
Meanwhile the right wing handed us Reaganomics and the patriot act.

He then says that instead of "socialism" it's "It's very simply about minimum requirements for a functional society, period"

What?
No. Absolutely incorrect. Impoverished communities were taken care of by their own.
It was the natural outflow of involved communities.

If you want something to blame, blame the distribution of wealth, the emergence of sub-divisions, fossilized concepts like minimum wage that drive rural communities into the ground and feel good federal programs that try and uniformly handle situations that are best addressed on the local level.

He's right about one thing... it's a bi-partisan effort.
That said, I see no reason that people should be rewarded for being lazy louses.
Like it or not, that is socialism, and the only cure for it is free market.

So naturally, instead of allowing local civic structures to handle the weak and infirm, we replace church with far-reaching federal Goliaths who sweep aside notions like faith-based programs for the poor, citing that it should be all of our responsibilities to pay for those who'd just simply rather not work.

If all animals are created equal, I feel absolutely no obligation to carry their weight.

Peace,

Aaron

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

Aaron writes:

"I see no reason that people should be rewarded for being lazy louses.
Like it or not, that is socialism, and the only cure for it is free market.

So naturally, instead of allowing local civic structures to handle the weak and infirm, we replace church with far-reaching federal Goliaths who sweep aside notions like faith-based programs for the poor, citing that it should be all of our responsibilities to pay for those who'd just simply rather not work."

My careful observation is that (1) Not all folks who are in need are lazy louses.  Some, maybe, but probably not the majority.

An awful lot of folks "fall through the cracks" for lack of proper examples, suddenly being laid off and not being able to find gainful employment, having serious physical and/or mental problems, or living in a society which now promotes giving the most wealthy (especially corporations) special benefits that make them even more wealthy, thereby making it even harder for some to do well financially, or finding it almost impossible to get training and education, for various reasons.

Also, (2) it is my observation that the vast majority of churches, nowadays, are much more interested in increasing their numbers, building edifices and pumping up there image, rather than using their tax-exempt status to really help those in need.

And yes, there are a lot of folks out there who simply refuse to work, and eat at the public trough.  Perhaps most prominent among those who are costing us for their being to lazy to get real jobs, are politicians.

So, I think it's unfair to assume that all people who need public assistance, of one kind or another, are "lazy louses."

FWIW

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

RetiredBen

"Also, (2) it is my observation that the vast majority of churches, nowadays, are much more interested in increasing their numbers, building edifices and pumping up there image, rather than using their tax-exempt status to really help those in need."

What would you expect to happen when the govt gets in the charity business?

 

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

Retired Ben

And so Rome burns.

No sense in crying over spilt civics.

I see all this as pedantic and secondary to the fact that society has been degraded at its most base level; communities and state authority have been entirely underminded based on federalism, globalism and consumerism.

No Ideology or ethos matters if you have a decaying structure on which your society is built.

Just my own opinion, but I've seen quite a bit of the "impoverished" Americans being spoke of.
They're lazy, ineffectual, drug addicted, or other wastrels who have nothing to offer.  Also all products of a diseased society which places no emphesis or importance on skill, hard work, modesty or virtue.

We celebrate apathy, immorality, profit and ostensibility.
In this nation, there are very few who can proclaim that they're "poor".

We forget how many live in straw huts and fish in mud just to survive to do it again.
That is poverty. If you can't pull yourself up in this environment, you'd be dead in that.

The removal of Darwinsim and introduction of rampant overpopulation is to blame. Ever problem discussed on this board can be traced back to overpopulation.

Cheers,

Aaron

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

I'd really would (sincerely) like to know your plan for correcting the situation you describe, given where we are right now?   Should we just kick everyone out of the country who is receiving any kind of public assistance?  Or, maybe we should just wake up one morning and announce to all of them that effective in one week, it all stops, and they'll just have to figure out a way to live without it?  Or, I guess we could just extinguish them, and the problem would be solved quickly.  I really don't like the idea of our government handing out so much money either, especially to those who ought to be responsible for themselves.

(I say again, that IMHO, the most offending and costly group is politicians.  Can you give us a plan to fix that?)

Seriously, I don't want a fight.  It just seemed to me that you were somewhat over-generalizing in your remarks

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

Greg, I certainly agree with you on "what can you expect...."   So, since the churches now refuse to do their part, I see no reason why they should not be paying all the same kinds of taxes that we are, i.e. income, property, etc. etc.  As far as I can see, they've had a free ride for too long.  That's most likely why they are some of the wealthiest and biggest land holders.

I'm very willing to see us fix the problem.  So, let's do what we always do, i.e. attack each aspect of it, and let's not just use general statements as to how bad it all is.  I know it's a sorry mess too.  So, how are we going to fix it.

I guess I'm just tired of all the talk!  I want to see some workable plans, and some concrete action, to solve all these problems, beginning with government, the Fed, corporations having more rights than human beings, etc.

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

Ben,

We've passed the point of "critical mass". Our debts cannot be answered. It doesn't matter who gets what from here on out, because we're all just rats on a sinking ship.

Some of us are smart enough to get to life rafts. Others are going to be ingenuitive enough to scavenge something to float around on.

Most will live in a profound despotism on par with most 3rd world nations. Think "Mexico City" on a national scale.

So what's my plan?
Watch it burn from a safe distance.

There's no saving this society at this point.

Cheers,

Aaron

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members
Aaron Moyer wrote:

Ben,

We've passed the point of "critical mass". Our debts cannot be answered. It doesn't matter who gets what from here on out, because we're all just rats on a sinking ship.

Some of us are smart enough to get to life rafts. Others are going to be ingenuitive enough to scavenge something to float around on.

Most will live in a profound despotism on par with most 3rd world nations. Think "Mexico City" on a national scale.

So what's my plan?
Watch it burn from a safe distance.

There's no saving this society at this point.

Cheers,

Aaron

 

And where are you going to watch it from? Is there anywhere that will be really "safe"?

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members
Aaron Moyer wrote:

The removal of Darwinsim and introduction of rampant overpopulation is to blame. Ever problem discussed on this board can be traced back to overpopulation.

Cheers,

Aaron

Aaron, welcome back.  I hope your travels were enlightening.  My opinion is that the removal of Darwinism is EXACTLY what has caused the rampant overpopulation. Too many folks are alive in spite of themselves...and they are sucking the life out of those that are resourceful and productive.  Not necessarily through any malicious intent on their part, it is just the nature of that beast.  There is no free lunch and for a person to exist "non-productively" requires a drain on those that are productive.

If it was absolutely necessary that a community WORK together to maintain their existence, there would be less time or inclination for those things that lead to moral decay. 

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It's all about morality, like it or not
The problem is fundamentally a moral issue.  When you remove morality from society, society begins to crumble.  Societies are built up from individuals, not down from the governments that rule them.  A sovereign individual helps build a strong nuclear family which helps build a strong extended family which helps build a strong community and so on right up to the federal level.  It works from the bottom up, not from the top down.  Individuals develop according to the most influential role models they are exposed to.  The best role models are a morally strong mother and father.  The mother and father teach the child how to behave in a manner that is consistent with a morally strong and healthy society.  They emphasize spiritual, psychological, and physical well being.  Children raised in such a manner are oriented towards helping others as well as themselves, they become more independent and rely less upon others and upon government for support, they stay physically and mentally healthier and put less demand on health care systems, they are more creative and innovative and structure their lives to make the best use of situations and opportunities rather than having to have a job handed to them, they are more likely to comply with laws that are based on wisdom and less likely to commit crime, they support leaders who do the right thing and not just those that give them what they want, they think ahead to the future of their children and their childrens' children and not just to their immediate wants and needs, they value education and knowledge and wisdom and positive action over stupidity and ignorance and foolishness and laziness, etc., etc.
 
What we have is not just a financial or economic crisis ... it's essentially a moral crisis with financial and economic subsets.
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Re: It's all about morality, like it or not
ao wrote:
The problem is fundamentally a moral issue.  When you remove morality from society, society begins to crumble.  Societies are built up from individuals, not down from the governments that rule them.  A sovereign individual helps build a strong nuclear family which helps build a strong extended family which helps build a strong community and so on right up to the federal level.  It works from the bottom up, not from the top down.  Individuals develop according to the most influential role models they are exposed to.  The best role models are a morally strong mother and father.  The mother and father teach the child how to behave in a manner that is consistent with a morally strong and healthy society.  They emphasize spiritual, psychological, and physical well being.  Children raised in such a manner are oriented towards helping others as well as themselves, they become more independent and rely less upon others and upon government for support, they stay physically and mentally healthier and put less demand on health care systems, they are more creative and innovative and structure their lives to make the best use of situations and opportunities rather than having to have a job handed to them, they are more likely to comply with laws that are based on wisdom and less likely to commit crime, they support leaders who do the right thing and not just those that give them what they want, they think ahead to the future of their children and their childrens' children and not just to their immediate wants and needs, they value education and knowledge and wisdom and positive action over stupidity and ignorance and foolishness and laziness, etc., etc.
 
What we have is not just a financial or economic crisis ... it's essentially a moral crisis with financial and economic subsets.

 

Excellent Post. I agree 100%

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Re: It's all about morality, like it or not
ao wrote:
The problem is fundamentally a moral issue.  When you remove morality from society, society begins to crumble.  Societies are built up from individuals, not down from the governments that rule them.  A sovereign individual helps build a strong nuclear family which helps build a strong extended family which helps build a strong community and so on right up to the federal level.  It works from the bottom up, not from the top down.  Individuals develop according to the most influential role models they are exposed to.  The best role models are a morally strong mother and father.  The mother and father teach the child how to behave in a manner that is consistent with a morally strong and healthy society.  They emphasize spiritual, psychological, and physical well being.  Children raised in such a manner are oriented towards helping others as well as themselves, they become more independent and rely less upon others and upon government for support, they stay physically and mentally healthier and put less demand on health care systems, they are more creative and innovative and structure their lives to make the best use of situations and opportunities rather than having to have a job handed to them, they are more likely to comply with laws that are based on wisdom and less likely to commit crime, they support leaders who do the right thing and not just those that give them what they want, they think ahead to the future of their children and their childrens' children and not just to their immediate wants and needs, they value education and knowledge and wisdom and positive action over stupidity and ignorance and foolishness and laziness, etc., etc.
 
What we have is not just a financial or economic crisis ... it's essentially a moral crisis with financial and economic subsets.

Thank, you, AO . . . . I was beginning to wonder if anyone else could see the relationship between moral decay and civilizational collapse . . . .  Our society has mistaken social and moral license for freedom . . . They are not the same.  Moral license, like drug addiction, leads to less, not more freedom . . . . less, not more well-being.  After millenia of civilization being held together by social and moral restraint, in this century, particularly, we've had the arrogance to think that we've transcended the need for behavioral boundaries.  How is it that we can spend hours dissecting the intricate causes of our economic and political demise, and not notice the concomitant moral decay . . . . and never wonder whether the two are related.  Soon enough we'll reap the harvest of the seeds we've sown. 

We all bemoan the rampant corruption, cold-hearted theft, and sociopathic will to dominate in our "leaders".  We talk endlessly about devising a system within which that sort of thing could not happen.  Our constitution is hailed as a well-crafted document, and yet it has failed to prevent even the most egregious violations of property, liberty, and privacy.  No, a mere piece of paper cannot contain the darker side of the human spirit.  Only internalized morality can do that . . . and that is most effectively instilled through the family and the community. 

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

This conversation is putrid with arrogance. 

Aaron, I can't tell you how much I am disappointed in your viewpoint. Are we seriously going to sit here behind our keyboards and pass judgement on others that we don't even know? The greatest illusion in life is that there is an us and a them. The consequence of your blanket judgment is self-inflicted suffering. By judging another, you are in fact judging yourself. If you think differently, then obviously you have not learned from the suffering in your life. Wisdom is learning from your suffering and the suffering of others.

Let that judgmental bullshit go, it only hurts you and the ones that you love.

Come on brother, your better than this.

Jeff

(edit: grammer)

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

Helping our weakest members: yes.

Doing so as family, friends and neighbors: yes.

Empowering our government to do so: I don't think that is the best way.

As Thomas Jefferson said: "I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

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How should society take care of its weakest members?

JAG,

Thank you for brining some sanity to this thread.  At a gut level I can sympathize with Aarons point of view but I really feel we can be better than that. 

I think a large part of the problem is our current society does not require personal responsibility.  Many (through broken homes and our lousy public education system) are taught that they are not responsible for their own lot in life.  That if they don't achieve, it is because someone else is holding them down.  Why do immigant minorities do better than local born minorities?  It is because the immigrants don't expect the state to help them out so they work harder to help themselves.  Dependence might make reliable voters but it also makes for an unstable society.

I believe it is ironic that the modern day liberal ideals of progressive income taxes, social safety nets, and class transfer payments, will in the end prove to be so destructive to the very people that they were trying to help.  By setting up the progressive income tax, that exclude so many in society from paying for government's largesse, it makes people think that these programs don't have costs.  It also makes those that are getting highly taxed, no longer feel they have a responsibility to help those that are less fortunate, because it is now the governments responsiblity.  Government aide to these less fortunate people is then called an entitlement instead of charity, and the receivers of the entitlement payments feel no stigma attached to their incomes and they only want more.  In the end this vicious circle will destroy private charity and polarize society.

In my opinion, the only sustainable way for society to take care of its weakest members is through charity.  Charity can never be taken by force or received by right.  It must be a voluntary transaction between two parties, where the giver gets the satisfaction that he is helping his fellow man and the receiver is grateful receive such a gift.  Possible exceptions may be made in rich societies where state could provide for the truely helpless like mentally handicaped ...

As for this overpopulation idea, I am sorry but I don't buy it.  I agree our earth is finite and therefore so are its resources but I see no reason to think that the earth is currently overpopulated or will be in the immediate future.  What I do see is a western society that uses energy and consumes resources far in excess of what will be sustainable.  There is clearly no way the whole world will ever be able to live in the consumer, oil based energy, society of the late 20th century.  That model is not sustainable for 100% of the worlds population. 

However I am an optimist on technology and I don't think technology should be dismissed so quickly as a possible solution to many of our current problems.  For me this is where I have a problem with the ideas of peak oil and environment.  I believe both of these problems will be solved in the next 15 - 30 years and that once we have clean energy, the world's population will not be an issue.  After all once the 3rd world starts living more like the 1st world, their population growth will decline down to around replacement levels just like everyone elses.

To me the only real problem with energy and the environment is that they may peak the same time as the economic turmoil.  This may make these solvable problems into real headaches.

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Caretaking in one's community

Hey all --

I see this argument from both sides (as I often do...old habit).  Yes I do believe there is a moral imperative to caretake those less fortunate and/or less able to care for themselves.  But I think large governmental structures/programs are an inefficient way to do it.  And in this day of stupefying corruption and cynicism in government, IMO darn near any large governmental program -- no matter how idealistically formulated -- becomes merely another trough for the swine to gorge upon.  

So what to do?  LOCALIZE your efforts.  If I create a surplus, I'm only too happy to share w/my circle/community.  Shirt-off-my-back kinda thing.  Fills a need, and I feel good about it.  And since I dish out whatever it is myself, I'm allowed latitude as to who gets it/where it goes.  We have a few peeps in our circle that I'd not lift a finger for because IMO they sit around bemoaning their state and waiting for help.  

And FWIW, those of you out there enraged/saddened by the corruption/moral hazard of Big Gov's welfare-ish programs, take heart:  by the time my dog hits old age (he's 3 this month), Big Gov IMO will be flat on its back getting repeatedly hit with defibrillator paddles (for a different metaphor, cf Grover Norquist's in/famous quote), and all those who organize their lives around Gov largesse will see their (now valueless) chips getting swept off the table by the croupier's rake.

By then, according to my 705-Point Plan, I'll be deep in community with reliable and valuable individuals, caretaking (and being taken care of).  To the extent we can, my community will help those who haven't seen the changes coming/haven't prepared.  I *am* my brother's/sister's keeper.  But for the sweet love of Pete, I cannot be my brother's-wife's-cousin's-friend's-coworker's-aunt's keeper.  LOCALIZE.

VIVA! -- Sager

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

My personal experience at working with these social programs and their recipients is that most people on these programs have been made lame by that program. The idea of the "Great Society" was just great but not reality IMHO. Now we will all have to pay the price for these dreamy illusions that were forced on us.

Those that will be hurt the worst where those we were trying to help as the reality of Darwinism takes hold. Most of the recipients squandered that help & become nothing more than dependants that I am now very tired of.

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Re: It's all about morality, like it or not

 

We all bemoan the rampant corruption, cold-hearted theft, and sociopathic will to dominate in our "leaders".  We talk endlessly about devising a system within which that sort of thing could not happen.  Our constitution is hailed as a well-crafted document, and yet it has failed to prevent even the most egregious violations of property, liberty, and privacy.  No, a mere piece of paper cannot contain the darker side of the human spirit.  Only internalized morality can do that . . . and that is most effectively instilled through the family and the community. 

“We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”            - John Adams

Our Constitution, the supreme law of our land, did not fail us by not having precise laws built in that would have prevented this disaster. It was simply not written for an immoral and dishonorable people, which apparently many of our most powerful and influential have become.

From a short article that can be viewed here:

http://www.mylocalnews.com/nws/index.php?/main/content/viewpoint_where_i...

When I wrote it, I was shocked at what was happening. Amazing how as it continues one almost becomes numb.

Shireen

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members
JAG wrote:

This conversation is putrid with arrogance. 

Aaron, I can't tell you how much I am disappointed in your viewpoint. Are we seriously going to sit here behind our keyboards and pass judgement on others that we don't even know? The greatest illusion in life is that there is an us and a them. The consequence of your blanket judgment is self-inflicted suffering. By judging another, you are in fact judging yourself. If you think differently, then obviously you have not learned from the suffering in your life. Wisdom is learning from your suffering and the suffering of others.

Let that judgmental bullshit go, it only hurts you and the ones that you love.

Come on brother, your better than this.

Jeff

(edit: grammer)

Probably your best post, JAG, out of all 887 of them.

 

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

Aaron. Welcome back. You seem to be back with a vengance. You sound more like a wolf than a sheepdog at least on this threadWink. Where's the compassion?

ao, great post.

Dr. Peters I very much agree but what happens to those without family or friends?

 

It's always great to bash social programs until you actually need them.

I know there's great debate in America about healthcare and to tell you the truth I couldn't be bothered to read more about it since we have enough debates about the same thing north of the border. I do see both sides of this debate. I understand the worries that America is already bust and all this extra spending will just be the icing on the cake. I personally wouldn't want to live anywhere without good social programs and healthcare. I don't mind paying high taxes for them either as I basically consider it insurance.

I'm lucky that I've never had any medical issues but I once worked for a company and it turned out they were total crooks. I lost nearly 4 months worth of pay and couln't get any records of my work so I couldn't even file for social assistance until I got back on my feet. Luckily I was able to borrow money from my family so I could pay rent and put food on the table. I eventually did get some social assistance after I was employed but it helped me with some incredible debt I had to build up just to survive. If it wasn't for my family and eventually the social assistance I'd be on the street and also end up being a bigger burden because it usually spirals downward from there. I wasn't a lazy louse. I just got screwed.

One of my best friends has chrone's disease. He's totally functional and makes a good living, he's educated and what I would consider a good contrubutor to society. If it weren't for the healthcare we get here in Canada he would never be able to pay for the medication he takes and fall ill and wouldn't be able to work and then only become a larger burden on our society. He's no lasy louse either. Just born with a nasty illness.

As with insurance policies you'll always get people abusing it forcing the costs to rise. I avoid seeing doctors or going to the clinic as much as I can. Then I see so many people that waste our valuable doctors and nurses' time by running to the hospital or clinic any time they get a scrape or sneeze. I see this as the biggest problem with helthcare is the abuse. How to curb the abuse is a whole other issue I'll leave for another debate.

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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

 This is a simplistic view I realize  ,but I see it as a break down in the family .    If families were totally  responsible for  all the costs of their unwed  daughters bringing babies into the world... Instead of saying "that's ok honey , the govt. will take care of you and send you to school too !"   Then if the boys  and or their family were responsible  for their own children, there would be no overpopulation situations . Yes some oops but a lot less I am sure,    But  then they would have to be WORKING  for what they eat ,and have less time to get into trouble .

  If the families took care of the true widows ( not the ones of marrying age )  then church or society would only be responsible for those that could truly not care for themselves .  

If families  took care of their grandparents .... well you get the picture .  I see many people stuck in nursing homes  that could ,and would be glad to, help the young kids learn to read and do their math. They have much skills and wisdom to share .

  If I did the  figuring right the world population is still under 7 billion . We could all fit in the state of Texas, in 4 people families , and have a normal house and yard .    I do not  think this is overpopulation .  We are not being accountable for our own families

  I probably opened myself to a lot negative comments  here . I am not meaning to sound condescending at all . I just see the snowball effect of the break down of families . Although I personally think it is moral  decay  I  do think it could turn around  if people  purposed in their hearts  and made some right choices.

  When will this turn around ?  When we make people work for what they eat .

switters's picture
switters
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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

I realized this would spark controversy when I posted it, although that wasn't my intention.  

I'm surprised that no one has commented on what I felt was the main point of the article: a society that doesn't take care of its weakest members can not be a strong society. 

We can argue until we're blue in the face about whether government, communities or individuals should be responsible for that.  But the fundamental truth of the statement above is undeniable.

The idea that all people who are poor or in need of support are lazy louses is so far beyond ignorance I'm just speechless.  It's not a matter of opinion.  I can take anyone who holds that views into communities where the "lazy poor" are working 2-3 minimum wage jobs just to make ends meet.  Try that and then see how you feel about government support.  Yes, there are exceptions but the increase in poverty has a lot more to do with the massive transfer of wealth from labor and industry to the FIRE economy over the last 50 year than anything else.

I happen to have Crohn's disease myself, so I am well aware of the complete lack of support for people struggling with chronic illness in this country.  I've found my own way but I had access to help from friends and family that others from different economic circumstances do not have.

There is an entire discussion on class and privilege lurking in the background here that isn't happening.  This probably isn't the appropriate forum for it, so I won't go into it.  Suffice to say that there are powerful social, economic, racial, and political factors that contribute to poverty.  The idea that poor people are lazy in general is not only grossly inaccurate, it's also an incredibly superficial analysis even when it is true.  If you grew up in a physically and emotionally abusive environment with a drug addict for a father and prostitute for a mother, had no education, no role models, no guidance, no love, no support, no advantages, no one looking out for you... well, you might end up being pretty dysfunctional.  But would it be entirely your fault?  I strongly suggest you consider the possibility that you have no right to answer that question in the affirmative unless you've actually had that experience.

Open your mind and heart. 

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idoctor
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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

The instinctive love a mother has for her child is a difficult bond to break but I see this far too often in our society today (made in the USA). We have some very troubling issues that are going to have some very tragic consequences. I agree with Aaron that it has gone too far & we will watch Rome burn again. It is after all something that everyone can finally understand.

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Full Moon
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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

Switters you get me wrong ... I hope .  My heart is big .  I am  taking care of  kids that parents have chosen to abandon  and are neglecting ( with my own money )  because of selfishness .   Accountablitlity  is what I think we need more of .   These kids would Love it if their own families would care for them and love them .

     I am  well aware there are those whom we  truly Need to take care of .      There is a big difference between need and want .   I want to take care of more children   but I need to take care of my own .

 

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switters
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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members
Full Moon wrote:

Switters you get me wrong ... I hope .  My heart is big .  I am  taking care of  kids that parents have chosen to abandon  and are neglecting ( with my own money )  because of selfishness .   Accountablitlity  is what I think we need more of .   These kids would Love it if their own families would care for them and love them .

I wasn't addressing you, Full Moon.  I simply wanted to point out that the problem of poverty and the need to support "weaker" members of society (even using that term presupposes a particular worldview and value system that I don't share) is systemic.   It's impossible to look at it as an "individual" issue.  Even if a poor person is lazy, which isn't the norm in my experience, there are a range of very real social, political, economic, personal and racial factors in that person's background that may have contributed to their current attitude and predicament.

If someone becomes paralyzed from the waist down in an accident, do we blame them if they later can't run a marathon?  Emotional and psychological trauma during childhood, often as a direct result of the cycle of poverty such children are born into, can "cripple" a person for life in the same way.  Are they to blame?  Are they not worthy of support and consideration?  Or should we simply discard them because, on the surface, they aren''t meeting the standard of a "productive citizen"?

There's a lot more to it than most people are willing to admit - probably because it's a lot easier to see things in black and white.  That way you can avoid all of the messy complexity that comes with the truth.

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cannotaffordit
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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

I really liked Shireen's article, and especially this quote:  "In truth, it was not from a lack of laws that the above occurred. It was from a lack of honor. A refusal to stick to the high road because, after all, everyone’s doing it and I want my piece of the pie. And thus the greed of some results in hardship and despair for the rest."

I happen to think this applies to the extremely greedy, the dishonest, AND to some of those who figure out that they can get by in the world without being personally responsible.  For all of them, it is sad.  But, it also a heavy burden on a society that basically wants everyone to do well, but just not at an unreasonable cost to others.

I want to add that I am amazed, and overjoyed, with the quality of thoughtful comments that this thread has produced.  It seems to say loudly that most of us may have strong opinions, one way or the other, but we are also willing to hear others and consider their experience, and their point of view.  I think that is very commendable, and speaks loudly of the quality of our group.

Back to one point:  Is there any way that society could "teach" folks how to be honorable, to be responsible and caring parents, so that we can begin to produce more and more folks who can act in such a way that they, personally, can be successful and still be very caring toward their fellow humans?  I guess religion has tried (to some extent) to do this for years, tut they have failed (or had very limited success.)  And, on being successful, is there ever a point, at which one can reach, when their ability to make more and more money just becomes a game;  a game that produces far more than they could ever expect to enjoy, and the game becomes important to them, at the expense of their caring for those who may not have done as well as they did.  I live in the same general area as Bill Gates, and his partner who started their company. Although the Gates' live extremely well, they are also extremely generous, whereas his old partner is not, but just continues to pay the game of get more, get more, get more, get more for himself.  (Not my opinion. The comparison was made so obvious to everyone, in the local paper last week.)

If I had the answer, I'd be glad to share it with all of us. Unfortunately, I don't.

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Full Moon
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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

 Yes sometimes it is just overwhelming .  After the taxes are 25% , you give 10% to church and 5-10% to other volunteer "good" causes ,   I just can't drive by a hitchhiker or person in need without giving something .  I feel fortunate to be able to give  but  Sometimes feels like we  never get ahead  with the cost of everything   so out of control . And try to get ready for a collapse too  !

     My daughter cares for a gentleman who is a quad from age 19 .  He has his place in our community  ... providing 6 people with an income  to care for him ..  He is a joy  to all ,  goes to  every function and  is an inspiration to many . He comes out and cheers us on as we work in the garden .. it really lighten the mood .    You are right who will care for those like him ? He does have family and he invested his money in 2000 acres of good farmland   but we just can not imagine how this will effect everyone .    How ,oh how , are we going to take care of everyone?

  

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Cloudfire
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Re: It's all about morality, like it or not
Shireen wrote:

 “We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”            - John Adams

Welcome aboard, Shireen  . . . . And thanks for that quote, and your well-stated article . . .  I hadn't previously been aware of that quote  . . . How apropos . . . . .  John Adams certainly was insightful . . . . . and prescient . . . .  Would that we had heeded his warning and not abandoned our salvation . . . .

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ao
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Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

Switters,

I don't think anyone here truly presumes that all the poor or mentally or physically disabled or other "weaker" members of our society are 100% responsible for their life situation.  We all need to make provision on an individual, family, or community level or through religious or fraternal organizations and even, to some extent, through government, to take care of those less fortunate than ourselves.  But the pendulum has swung way too far away from accountability, self responsibility, self reliance, etc. toward "poor me" and "they need to help me" and way too much whining.

Let's look at some examples.  I lived in a ghetto community for 2 years (on the fringe between a white ghetto and a black ghetto so we're not singling out any particular races here) and saw the poor consistently make poor choices.  They'd buy pop rather than milk, drink alcohol rather than buy nutritious food, buy cigarettes rather than invest in their children, etc.  They'd prefer to watch TV to read at a free public library and prefer to hang out on a street corner or sit on a stoop rather than offering some store owner to sweep his walk for some food or money or perform some other worthwhile service.  I could go on and on.  This was certainly not all of them but it was a substantial majority.

I also happen to be regularly called on to provide records for folks trying to get social security disability.  They will be on full disability yet sit on a bleacher in the poorest posture imaginable.  If I sat in that posture for long, I'd have severe, incapacitating back pain.  They will say their back can't stand the stress of work yet be flying an ultralight aircraft in a hunched over position making bumpy landings.  They will claim they can't work become of pain but I know many folks, myself included, who are in pain on a daily basis yet work anyways and rarely miss a day of work.  By my estimate, I'd say a good 90-95% of those on social security disability shouldn't be getting it.  It should be a "widows, orphans, and severely handicapped" program but it no longer is.  A father recently admitted to me that his son (who is only in his early 20s) thinks that the world owes him a living and wants to sap the system for everything that it will give him and never work a day in his life.  Another person is on full SS diability because of simple anxiety.  I could go on and on.  Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents.   

On the flip side, I worked with a lower level quadriplegic for years (not a paraplegic).  He had help with his dressing and bathroom activities every morning but headed off to work driving himself in a handicapped equipped van with hand controls.  He rarely missed a day of work.  He came from a relatively poor working class background but working every day gave him dignity and self respect.  He even pioneered a nationally known group for handicapped people that does absolute wonders in building their morale and self esteem.  He could be on full disability but he chose not to.

We also have vets who have gone back to combat in Iraq or Afghanistan with a limb missing.  These men could also be on full disability but chose not to.  The most decorated German soldier in WW 2, in fact, flew 25 combat missions with only one leg.  Similarly, a high decorated German tank officer lost an arm to a Russian shell but went back to combat and was an absolute terror to the Allies.  There are innumerable other examples.

The book "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story" tells the story of a young black man, who by his own admissible, felt he was "the dumbest" in his class.  His father was a bigamist and left the family.  His mother tried supporting him and his brother on her own, but, at times, had to admit herself into a mental institution.  To make a long story short, despite his multiple disadvantages in life (race, family situation, poverty, poor education, etc.), he wound up becoming a world class neurosurgeon.

Human beings have free will and they have choices.  Bad choices bring about bad outcomes.  Pain and suffering are designed to correct faulty actions, whether the pain is physical or emotional.  Continue with the same faulty action and the same pain and suffering persist.  Change the course of action and life can change for the better ... with a little luck and lot of hard work

I have as big a heart as anyone and as open a mind as anyone but my mind isn't so open that my brains leak out.  As the saying goes, "The way to make someone good for nothing is to give them something for nothing".  We need to stop disempowering people by trying to provide for their every need from cradle to grave.  Life is a struggle.  One has to use one's brain and/or one's brawn to survive.  We need to equip folks with the tools to survive but not give them everything ... the old "give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and feed him for a lifetime" adage and all that.

I propose that if all of us tithed our income, there would be no shortage of funds to take care of those fully in need.  Unfortunately, the average religious observer in the U.S. only donates 3.4% of their income while the average non-religious individual donates only 1.4% of their income.  Again, as I said before, it's a moral issue.  Whether theistic or atheistic, whether religious, spiritual, or secular, I think we can all agree that donating a certain percentage of our income to worthwhile causes (or the time and energy equivalent) is the moral thing to do.

What bothers me is when I see individuals going on and on saying "WE" should help the poor (or whatever other disenfranchised group is the group de jour) but they don't put their money where there mouth is.  They want others to support the causes they deem worthy while they themselves often don't fully commit to doing so.  They (wrongly) assume that because others don't want to support their particular pet cause that those other people are somehow selfish, unconcerned, closeminded, heartless, or whatever.  I say, if one believes someone needs help, help them.  Let your actions be an example to others.  Let each make their own choice about who helps who and stop trying to tell other people who they should or shouldn't help.  That is the way a society stays truly free and strong.  

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cannotaffordit
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Posts: 273
Re: A strong society takes care of its weakest members

Moon, thanks so much for sharing the story about the young man.  Very inspiring.

Your question is, I think, is very valuable; "How are we going to take care of everyone?"   I'm inclined to think, that, although it may take a while, we've somehow got to educate folks about

(1) their own responsibility to work AND to be good, loving and caring parents,(This may be a tough one, because for so many of them, the old patterns are set from more than even one generation.)    

(2) For everyone to discover how much is truly enough, to have an excellent lifestyle, (a personal answer, of course) and take the rest of their wealth and be sure it gets to those who are truly needy, like physically, mentally, etc.  I also think ALL that they are willing to give freely, should be withheld from the government, legally, not just a percentage.

Finally, we need serious reform of spending among our elected officials, at all levels !!!  Far too much waste !!!

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