social safety nets

safety net

Give a man a welfare check, a free cell phone, free internet, cash for his clunker, food stamps, section 8 housing, Medicaid, ninety-nine weeks of free unemployment, and he will vote Democrat the rest of his life and even after he is dead.

The daily feast of benevolent Christian delights that flows from a recently discovered blog, Quiner’s Diner, has me wincing with horror on a regular basis.  Why do I follow it? Because I think it’s important to keep abreast of mainstream opinions in the world’s most influential nation.

This ‘witticism’ has my blood boiling for a number of reasons.

  • Healthcare.  I’m from a country with universal free healthcare.  The system is not perfect but I’m not aware of anyone who has died from lack of access to medical attention.  It is estimated that 45,000 people a year die in the USA because they don’t have healthcare insurance.
  • Welfare. The myth of the ‘welfare trap’ is considered in detail in this post, and points out for all US citizens unaware of global realities that “countries with the most generous benefits (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands) have some of the lowest levels of unemployment”
  • Housing. I’m living in a country that can’t afford social housing for the poorest in its society. The painful to view result is acres of dangerously built slums, many with no electricity, water or sewerage systems, surrounding every town and city.

I’m not a Christian, but I am familiar with the commonly understood themes that people extract from the New Testament – little things like looking out for the poorest in society. I expect most Christians who distribute and giggle at little quotes like the one above are white and middle class, and effortlessly travel from their million dollar church to their gated neighbourhood home without having to see the homeless people on the streets, the people with mental health problems on the Greyhound buses, or interact with anyone disgusting enough to use food stamps.

To reduce the necessities of a social safety net that catches the most vulnerable in society to a cheap political gag, and undermine the importance of support in these areas, is repulsive enough, but when it comes from people who follow the teachings of the Jesus character, and who laud the amazing qualities of their new Pope’s desire to improve the lives of the poor, the bigoted ignorance is almost laughable.