01:34:32 am on
Thursday 19 Oct 2017

Paradoxes
AJ Robinson

For centuries, we've debated the role of government in lives of citizens. There's the far left to far right and much variation in between. Still, we can usually agree on some basic minimums: defense, education, infrastructure and the courts to name only a couple.


The paradox of helping others.

Then there is what we can do for the lowest of the low. That is, the poor, the homeless, the hungry and sick, the old and infirm and those just struggling; Karl Marx called these women and men the lumpen proletariat. Today we debate to what, if anything, we should do for such people. I thought I'd offer my reasons for coming down on the side of helping our fellow humans.

First, there's religious. I consider myself more spiritual than religious, but I recognize that many people are deeply religious, our politicians in particular. Especially among conservatives, they seem to wear their Christianity like a suit and are forever quoting scripture to justify their actions. To my way of thinking, I'm always suspicious of such people. You shouldn't have to invoke religion in the passing of legislation in order to justify what you're doing is good and just, it should be evident in the act.

Anyway, if we're a good Christian nation, we should do all the things Jesus called us to do. Remember, he didn't stop at "Suffer little children," there was more to that line. Now, some people will make the argument that it's not government's job to follow scripture, it should be people, churches and charities. Okay, so government won't help people on religious grounds. Let's move on to point two.

Even if you're an atheist, you might want to help your fellow humans out of a sense of moral decency or just because you feel that there, but for random chance or fate, go you. Once again, there are people, especially among the libertarians that oppose such things. They argue everyone should fend for him- or herself, stand on their own two feet and, if trouble comes, turn to friends and family.

I find that rather cold and insensitive, but, again, to each their own. So, let's consider the third and final reason.


What’s the Bottom Line?

Let's look at plain old dollars and cents, money. On the face of it, cutting Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Veterans' benefits, social security and all other aspects of the social safety net might sound like a big money saver, but it's an illusion. After all, the people who depend on those programmes aren't going to magically disappear or, as conservative believe, go out and just "get a job." This means they're still in need. What'll they do?

When it comes to sickness, they'll wait as long as possible, and then go to the ER. That means having the highest bills and not being able to pay them. So, who does pay? Well, the rest of us pay their medical bills.

The homeless and hungry, what will they do? Steal, beg and live on the streets. Their children won't get an education, which means no good jobs later. That, of course, means not paying taxes and being a further drag on society.


What’s the solution?

This is where that old saying about an ounce of prevention comes into play. It really comes down to two options: we can be proactive or reactive. The former is a whole lot cheaper. I don't know about you, but I tend to think that a few dollars spent helping me fellow Americans is money wisely invested.

Anyway, that's my opinion. We’re free to make choices, but not free from the consequences of our choices.

 

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

More by AJ Robinson:
Tell a Friend

Click above to tell a friend about this article.