Sunday, February 28, 2010

federal government handouts, the free market, and "personal responsibility"

I can agree I do not like huge control of the government. I like being able to not have my clothing choices dictated or how I walk or something like that. However, I get confused when people start talking about the market “will just take care of it all” and to live based on the values of “freedom, liberty, and personal responsibility.” Well, I have some questions about that.

People that say those types of things are usually against social welfare programs because you know, 30% of one’s income shouldn’t be handed out to “lazy fucks”. Well, first: we are not all born onto the same exact equal opportunity. Life isn’t just about “working hard and getting a job.” Many, many people have obstacles they have to face and nothing is just like, handed to them like others. People are born homeless, poor, with a disease or disability, not being born a white male, and so on. Most of these are NOT choices. Even if people have jobs, sometimes those jobs do not pay enough to take care of basic needs.

Personally, I like having a water department so I can take showers and drink clean water. I like having the federal government having a roads department so I can drive or bike on decent, paved roads. Tax money pays for that, I am okay with that. I honestly don’t see people who think the “market will just take care of it” organizations businesses to start building roads or companies to clean public water.

For example, if we lived in a society where businesses ran absolutely everything and say, a house is on fire. Would we need to call a business to see if we could maybe get our house put out? Would we have to pay for that? Or what if it was an apartment building on fire? Would we have to talk to every resident in the building to see if they wanted to pay for the apartment to be put out? What if they said yes, but couldn’t afford it? Would the privatized fire department just not come then? Guess who this also leaves out? People who are poor. People who are on assistance to help them say, pay their heat bill every month so they don’t freeze to death.

What is the problem of having the federal government take care of certain issues? How come those issues I brought up or not talked about? It’s always framed more toward people who are “chose” to be poor, people who “chose” to live in certain areas, or “chose” to be black (all examples, there are many more!) Why is it bad to help the people of New Orleans or help people so they don’t starve? Do we really think that the Salvation Army can just take care of it all? Or people on their own “good will” would donate food to poor people? (Not to mention how great that would make the rich person feel, too. Poor people can be so “thankful” to the rich people then, right? Hello? Isn’t living a basic right to anyone?)

I like to use the example of when I lived in Minneapolis. My rent was $1050 a month and my childcare was around $500. I made $15 dollars an hour and worked full time. While that was the most I’ve ever made in my life, I barely made enough to pay for other bills, yet I made too much to be on food stamps. But I was working, right? Oh wait, I shouldn’t just gotten a better paying job (because those are everywhere!) Oh wait, it’s my fault that I had a child and chose such an expensive place to live? But if we go upon “personal choices and freedom” – then wasn’t it MY choice to have a child and choose where I wanted to live? I wanted to live in a safe part of town because I have a child and I am a woman. So, the question was: safety or money? Food or electric bill? What does one choose, especially when they have a child? Oh, but I suppose I could have stayed with my abusive ex, just so I could have “another’ income right? Or maybe just find another man! Or wait, I could have moved out of Minneapolis! Note: moving out of Minneapolis also cost money that I did not have. Of course, I had my personal say in some of these issues, but I also had to make those choices based on the current system I was in or am in. So did I really have complete freedom to make an absolute free choice? Or was I making a choice under these specific circumstances I was in? Like many other people.

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