I generally oppose Great Society programs. My view of social safety nets is that they should be reserved for times when charities are overwhelmed by need, like in the social calamity and crisis in self-sufficiency that was the Great Depression and also the Great Recession because of the negative social effects that come with them when there are very few barriers to being responsible for one’s place in the world. I look at them as being a necessity of having a government monopoly on money and heavy involvement in financial regulation with a multitude of things between them that can go terribly wrong, creating an overwhelming need for relief for huge cross-sections of society, but mostly working middle class who couldn’t find a chair when the music stopped.
These people do not deserve to be frowned upon because they are involuntary former taxpayers who ended up with no place to turn but to government as a matter of survival, and I believe that our humanity directs us to help these people avoid starvation and having their families ripped apart by the inability to find employment in a deep downturn that was caused, by and large, by government error. If we allow big government, we must take responsibility for what it does, good and bad.
With that said, I am amazed to hear Republicans talking about government assistance recipients as if the explosion in their ranks is the result of some incentive provided by the Obama Administration rather than actual need. I hate to tell them that the labor force participation rate and U-6 number paints an entirely different story. These statistics that changed dramatically with the economic crash of 2008 just keep getting worse and paint a picture of hopelessness, people stripped of their dignity, and likely everything they’ve worked for all their lives being able to see no light at the end of the nightmarish tunnel.
Mitt Romney in particular should not bother attacking Obama for his stance on the welfare law as he treads dangerously close to adding insult to economic injury because we are unable to separate those who do live off the government as a career and those who are in genuine need of extended assistance because there are no jobs. He does not need Republican base support as badly as he needs to develop support from a broad section of society, most of which are unaffiliated for a reason, and I highly doubt that he will get that by insults that cover far more than just Obama.
Obama’s economic record is dismal. It has caused these people languish in misery for years. We should point that out as he deserves the credit where credit is due while recognizing that we do need temporary changes to some social programs to prevent an economic disaster from turning into a humanitarian calamity. We need to take care of the people, win the vote and then allow the environment for them to get jobs and off the assistance roles. We can, and we will. There is no need for degrading people who are but victims of the disaster of Obama within a disaster, but there is a very large need to foster unity across all walks of life and evoke national optimism about the future rather than stoking division that just does not need to be there.