by Madeleine Kando
Before our modern day 'enlightenment' period, poor people were seen as not that different from criminals. They were usually put in 'workhouses' (poor houses) where their clothes, their families and any other personal belongings were taken from them. They were set to work for no pay and beaten if they didn't do exactly what they were told.
There were a lot more poor people relatively speaking than now. It didn't matter if they were poor because they were handicapped or sick and couldn't work. Poor was poor. Charlie Chaplin lived in a poor house with his mother when he was a child.
Before that time the poor had to beg or break the law in order to survive. When caught they were put in 'stocks' for three days and nights and then released and told to leave town, so that they became somebody else's problem. Nobody ever thought of doing something about poverty itself.
The idea that poverty is not a result of laziness or refusal to work is not that old. Only at the beginning of the 20th Century did the government realize that locking up poor people or telling them to get out of town wasn't going to solve the problem.
In England, they created the 'Welfare Reform Act'. It was funded by taxing the rich and was strongly supported by Winston Churchill. He called it a 'War Budget', to wage war against poverty. So Welfare economics is basically redistributing wealth so that society as a whole will be better off.
Even though the word 'welfare' means the well-being of individuals, their health, their happiness and their safety, in America the word carries a big stigma. In Europe it is just a service that guarantees a minimal level of well-being and social support for all citizens, including the rich. It is based on 'solidarity' rather than 'charity'.
Charity is something that humiliates the recipient and does not acknowledge that every person has a right to a basic level of humanity. It is a precursor to welfare, usually based on religious beliefs. It is a duty of many religions to give to the poor so that one may be forgiven one's sins. (Except in the Jewish tradition where the poor are entitled to charity as a matter of justice).
We could remove social safety nets for the poor, the old and the sick, which would put us back in the situation in England under the Tudors. We could place our sick, our unemployed and our elderly in shackles and lock them up or put them in stocks again. Ask them to leave town…
Yes, let me propose that to Congressman Paul Ryan. He is already doing such a great job guiding us back to the 15th century with his 'Roadmap for America's Future. leave comment here
Monday, June 20, 2011
by Madeleine Kando