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February 12, 2012

Two sides to our “Safety Net”

An article in todays The New York Times discusses the conflicted view of our safety net.
“The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits.  A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement.”
The article discusses people who do not want help from the government.  They believe that people should live within their means.  These people also receive benefits from government programs such as; the earned-income tax credit, free breakfast and lunch programs in schools, disability benefits, unemployment benefits, veteran benefits and medicare.  Some of these people “…describe themselves as self-sufficient members of the American middle class and are opponents of government largess drawing more deeply on that government…”
“Politicians have expanded the safety net without a commensurate increase in revenue.”  The problem has has gotten worse because of the recent recession. 
Like Americans in general, the people discussed in the article are divided on how to proceed.  One person said “You have to help and have compassion as a people, because otherwise you have no society, but financially you can’t destroy yourself.”
“Almost half of all Americans lived in households that receive government benfits in 2010, accordingly to the Census Bureau.”
Although the article does not suggest how to proceed it does help put some of the factors that need to be considered in perspective.  Recognizing the conflicting views and emotions should lead to answer. 
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