Monday, May 16, 2011

Brief Reflections on Safety Nets (part II)

In our previous post we discussed the concentric vision of safety nets. Traditionally, most progressives are dismissive of the American Ideal of the industrious self made man. Some are outright hostile to it, believing that it has encouraged many to "blame the victims" of capitalism. Yet, it is clear that a multifaceted safety net in particular and a health civil society in general, are made possible by the existence of a large, confident class of prosperous, entrepreneurial Americans. Historically, this group has formed the foundation of the charitable class. The boldest examples are Bill and Melinda Gates who have given billions to a myriad of noble causes. But of greater importance are the millions of Americans who donate their time and energy to helping family, friends, churches, charities and provide the lion's share of tax revenue that fund state, local and federal safety nets.

 Progressives should be just as concerned as their conservative counterparts about the rising number of Americans who are possessed by the entitlement mentality. The reason being is that those who have become dependent on the state are rarely willing or able to contribute to the welfare of their communities. Why should they? It is the responsibility of the state to care for their neighbors, to care for the poor and even to care for their own children. It is the responsibility of "the rich" to fund these programs. The fiscal ramifications are clear; the growth of the dependent class is unsustainable and will bankrupt the social programs that progressives cherish. And as the state becomes more coercive and covetous, the entrepreneurial class that forms the backbone of safety nets and civil society will become less willing or able to share the fruits of their labor, like their counterparts in most other societies.

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