No one regrets more than I the erosion of assistance extended by the social safety net into entitlements resented by working America, but dismantling the war on poverty and old age security without truly reforming our capital system will wreak disastrous economic results.
The social welfare programs of the 1935 New Deal and 1965 Great Society expanded beyond the “hand up” to the very poor to hand outs to relatively capable people. Two Republican presidents expanded these programs into behemoths. Literal obesity grew into our economically disadvantaged class, creating an unbearable public health crisis.
However, if you’re not going to engineer a stable, productive economy that employs the vast majority of the people, joblessness and poverty are inevitable. Capital activity has a responsibility to provide a decent, equitable education that equips people to make the most of their earning potential in safe, sustainable jobs. Failure to project decent economic opportunity that will accommodate increasing populations produces overwhelming numbers of hopeless, incapable, diseased, dependent people.
Destroying the systems we have created to feed, house and heal unemployable people will not decrease the deficit. Poverty will become more dramatic, and it will drag the middle class into the abyss. At the same time legislators slash poverty programs and bar meaningful health care reform, they swing their axes at education. Teachers are laid off, Head Start is threatened, Pell Grants are slashed. Education is already a tenuous, arduous journey for students In impoverished circumstance. Eliminate programs that attempt to balance educational opportunity, and we cannot maintain an employable populace.
Reform is needed, but to-the-death political battles that perpetuate disenfranchisement will kill America. The only way to eliminate the deficit is to stop engaging in unproductive wars (both the fights overseas as well as the stupid, corrupt political posturing within our own democracy) and build a nation that thrives through liberty and justice for all. Create an infrastructure that heals the planet, provides jobs that fulfill mind, body and soul, and supports a healthy, evolving species. If we don’t make a world where everyone can be rich, we will all die poor.