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View Diary: Can We Agree That The Following Should be Free in a Civilized Society? (183 comments)

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  •  Old fashioned, or what gives life meaning? (0+ / 0-)

    Most of us can work.  It means a lot to have responsibilities, and we need find ways for people who can't otherwise succeed in a competitive market to do productive work.  It should be a moral issue, where we actually hire people just because it's the right thing to do.  Where we put more value on things people make and personal services.

    Not everyone has genetic family - but there are a whole lot of people who create an extended family for themselves with long time close friends.  And community seems to exist independently of economic circumstances, where sometimes those who have the least are most willing to share.

    And sometimes charity is the only way to go.  For example, I respect what my right-to-life neighbor believes - enough that it doesn't seem right to force him to pay for an abortion.  But still, we need to elect Wendy Davis governor - AND - step up and make sure that money isn't an issue when a woman has to choose an abortion.  (wouldn't it be nice if we could add an optional page to our tax returns, where we could decide where at least some of the money would go?).

    So am I just being old fashioned - or do we need to limit what's "free" in order to support work, family, community and charity?

    •  Are you suggesting that family, community, charity (0+ / 0-)

      would disappear if everyone's basic needs were met otherwise?

      And it seems that you don't see society(/government) as community, even in potential. That's... sad.

      Jewish tradition says this about charity:

      Maimonides, often called by his acronym RaMBaM (Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon), was a 12th century Jewish scholar and physician. Rambam wrote a code of Jewish law, the Mishnah Torah, based on the Rabbinic oral tradition.

      Rambam organized the different levels of tzedakah (charity) into a list from the least to the most honorable.

      8. When donations are given grudgingly.

      7. When one gives less than he should, but does so cheerfully.

      6. When one gives directly to the poor upon being asked.

      5. When one gives directly to the poor without being asked.

      4. When the recipient is aware of the donor's identity, but the donor does not know the identity of the recipient.

      3. When the donor is aware of the recipient's identity, but the recipient is unaware of the source.

      2. When the donor and recipient are unknown to each other.

      1. The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner, or by extending a suitable loan, or by helping them find employment or establish themselves in business so as to make it unnecessary for them to become dependent on others.


      That final step sounds something like what I'd want our civil society to be.

       The problem with relying on charity for essential public needs is that history demonstrates that such charities are way too often about what the giver wants (or how they wish to be seen), and not what the recipient needs. And then of course there's duplication of effort...

      •  TiaRachel, where do we disagree? (0+ / 0-)

        I'm with you regarding civil society and the highest form of charity - where sometimes people are employed because it gives us the opportunity to be productive, and we value the work that's done - even if it's not about making money.

        It is the role of government to provide essential needs - in a well defined consistent way.  We shouldn't have to jump through hoops to qualify for food if we're hungry or for basic healthcare when we're sick.  If everyone is entitled and the benefits are clear but limited, then nobody can game the system, and there are clear roles for family, community, and charity.

        On the other hand if the federal (or state) government provides all public needs, it sounds a lot like your "8. When donations are given grudgingly.".  A lot of us pay taxes grudgingly.

        It's true that local government can do more - there is a local level that feels more like community - where our priorities and our contributions seem to make a bigger difference.

        I don't believe that family, community, and charity disappear when we provide all public needs though the government, but they are diminished.  The argument that social security diminishes family because we don't need our children to support us when we're old goes too far.  But there is an element of socialization where we put up with each other because we need each other.

        •  This part: (0+ / 0-)
          So am I just being old fashioned - or do we need to limit what's "free" in order to support work, family, community and charity?
          Sounds like you believe that work, family, community, charity would cease to exist if people's basic needs were met.

          And there's a general worldview I see in your 1st post that I strongly disagree with (though I'm not quite certain how to explain it).  Something to do with an apparent  preference for relying on local community (to generalize) first (ideally), when I know for a fact that many people don't have that kind of support, or belong to communities that on their own simply can't manage. If the current model is: rely on family > rely on friends/social community (incl. charity) > regional community (incl. other charities), then that model has failed. You talk about being old fashioned -- well, maybe that old fashioned model doesn't do the job as well as others might.

          But as to most people paying taxes grudgingly -- that's just not true in more socialistic states. Everyone pays (including corporations & the extremely wealthy), and in return, everyone receives services. And even those who don't benefit from certain services take pride in knowing that others who need them, get them.

          And I would see relying on gov't instead of a mishmosh of personal social networks  to be a combination of these

          2. When the donor and recipient are unknown to each other.

          1. The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished

          Everyone contributes (and remember, the 99% are strongly overtaxed right now, even as the 0.01% are grossly undertaxed -- so in a more sensible system, most people wouldn't be paying more). And everyone benefits, and not just by knowing that they'll be warm in the winter and not starve.
          •  Yep. We do have different world views. (0+ / 0-)

            Though I think we agree on the overall goal, and we agree that the current situation is needs to be fixed. There's no question that the top .xx percent are undertaxed.  But we may have a different idea of what should be considered basic needs - In the diary Troubadour included:

            1.  Healthcare
            2.  Public education, including job training, college, and postgraduate.
            3.  Public transit
            4.  Residential water
            5.  Residential heat
            6.  Residential electricity
            7.  Legal aid
            8.  Parks
            9.  Identity documents
            10.  Electronic communications
            It's true that our healthcare system and the rest of our safety net is dysfunctional, and some more socialist countries do a better job than we do of making more things work for many more people.

            But I really don't think that what works there is the answer here.  In some ways we have bigger problems.  We spend way too much on "defense",  our legal / prison system is out of control, and the distribution of income is squeezing the middle class, and too many of us still believe that 2400 sq. ft. is right size for a new home.

            And I really believe that most of us are healthiest when we have a job (purpose and responsibility), and when we moderate our crazy behavior and take care of each other.

            The model that I think could work the best is one where we get different things the safety net, from work, and from family / community.  It's true that charity can be problematic - I'm not a big fan of missionaries (though sometimes they do very good things).  Maybe it's more of a matter of doing what's morally right day by day - situation by situation.

            And if we weren't so squeezed financially (which is sometimes a problem of our own making), we'd be able to put a higher value on services.  It's going to be interesting as more and more jobs become automated.  We need to find healthy roles for people.

            Anyway, thank you for responding - these are good things to talk about - and common ground is a good start - moving towards change.

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