“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” – by Emma Lazarus (on the plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty)
Today is Blog Action Day ’08 – a day when bloggers around the world decide to write about one topic – poverty. Lately, I’ve been finding myself having to explain to my more conservative friends why I am a liberal. As much as I hate labels, it appears that this one fits. There are a few ideological reasons for believing one approach is better than another. Here are two …
In America, we currently have two welfare systems – social and corporate. A common argument against liberalism is the social welfare system. The argument goes that giving to the poor will encourage them to remain in poverty so that they can continue getting free money. There is probably much merit in this argument but I have been lucky enough in my life to not have to stand in line for food stamps to feed my children. Of course, we also have corporate welfare. In fact, we have just seen a great example of this in the latest banking bailout. We’re giving the banking industry $700,000,000,000. That’s enough money to start our own space program and build a fleet of 45 space shuttles. Looked at another way, it’s enough money to feed the poor around the world for the next 100 years. I only wish there was a check box when I filed my taxes every year that asked me if I would rather give money to big business or to the poor. Of course, most people would check “give to the poor”. That is one reason I am considered liberal – if my money is going to be redistributed, I would much rather it be redistributed to poor people rather than rich people.
We have a amazing healthcare system in the United States. It has kept me healthy and even saved my life once. I’ve been lucky enough to have excellent healthcare and insurance either free or very cheap. There are a lot of people that do not have this option. Because the rest of us have our family physician we don’t have to spend hours in a waiting in the ER for a doctor to see our sick child. It’s a problem that is out of sight, out of mind. The number one reason Americans file for bankruptcy is healthcare costs. Those same people who are currently against a subsidized healthcare system may feel differently if they are diagnosed with cancer someday only to find their insurance company drop them. This happens all too often. Call me liberal, but I would rather my tax dollars go to build an affordable healthcare system rather than those same dollars going to subsidize large pharmaceutical companies.