• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Social Basics

The Obama Administration announced that it is coming forward with a 50 billion dollar work-fare bill.

Whether Hoover/Roosevelt's WPA or Hitler's Arbeitsdeinst, everyone has understood the necessity and utility of public works projects. The defect in the Administration's policy is that it conceives of such programs as temporary, stop-gap measures. They are not; such programs are only the beginning of economic recovery and stability.

A truly social conception flows from the premise that every citizen is directly entitled to a guaranteed standard of living in terms of: education, employment, housing, health-care recreation and retirement.

This is not a question of "welfare" or "minimal scroungables". It is a question of building a society that has as its broad basis (not as its limit) a soci-economic egalitarianism that protects the integrity and develops the potential of the whole person.

National Socialism understood this from the beginning. FDRoosevelt promoted this concept at the very end in his 1945 speech about an "economic bill of rights".

And of course, economic rights is the social premise of communism and social democracy. Everyone has understood the concpet except for the US ruling caste from and after LBJ. The neo-liberal premise -- espoused by all administrations from Reagan to and including Obama -- is that if we throw enough goodies at the rich enough of it will miss its mark and actually hit the poor...sometimes, maybe. I seem to recall that Eduardo Porter of the New York Times editorial board once wrote an article entitled "Feeding the Rich feeds the Poor."

The time for this kind of thinking has come to an end. It is not necessary to abolish capitalism, but only to regulate so that it becomes the servant of society not its master.