July 26, 1996
God is dead, but fifty thousand social workers have risen to take his place.
In a primitive hunter-gatherer culture, everyone contributes. The women cook and gather, and the men hunt and gather. There are always some who aren't very good at much of anything. When things get really tough, they starve. They become the prey instead of being the predators.
In our modern specialized society, there are massive numbers of people who do little or nothing to keep people in the necessities of life: food, clothing and shelter. I suspect that a very small percentage of our population is really necessary and that most of us live off of them.
A question that has plagued society for centuries is what do you do with people who are, to all intents and purposes, worthless? Do you kill them, allow them to starve, keep them from reproducing, put them in prisons and workhouses(which no longer exist because they compete with private enterprise) -or what?
The system that has evolved in this country is called "welfare". A similar system exists in England, where it is called "Social Security." It used to be called "charity" and it is based on the assumption that the recipient of welfare is down on his luck due to circumstances beyond his control.
We all know that that assumption is not entirely true. While many really are down on their luck and can be helped, others are just plain worthless; are likely to remain worthless and will probably raise worthless children. Some are crazy, some addicted to drugs, and some are just plain stupid and/or lazy. Not everyone was fortunate enough to have had parents and a family, who taught him/her how to live in the world in some reasonable way. Some listened to their parents who told them that the important thing in life is happiness and to the radio and TV commercials which told them that happiness comes in a bottle.
The way that our society handles this is to give these problem people enough money to stay alive and hope that they will keep out of everyone's way. In exchange for subsistence, we hope that they will not remind us that there are some of our fellow humans who we would rather didn't exist at all. This is true regardless of whether they are crazy or just belong to a "welfare culture". One logical reason for doing this is the fear that those worthless critters may decide to survive by simply taking what they want. And who would they take it from? Us!
Who are the people who do most of the complaining about the lazy-good-for-nothings on welfare? The farmers who keep us fed? No, the farmers I know seem to be quite willing to give a portion of what they produce to feed the indigent. They figure that they have more than they need. They even share a portion of their produce with the birds and animals. Is it the carpenters who build the houses or the steel workers who make the steel who are complaining? Most of those people don't seem to mind that a portion of what they make goes to support the worthless segment of our society. They don't even seem to mind supporting politicians, some of whom may be about as worthless as you can get -or worse.
Could it be that most of the bitching comes from people who feel guilty because they, too, do little to benefit their fellow humans? Much of the complaining seems to come from writers, columnists, politicians and other relatively worthless members of society.
I don't complain about welfare because I have been taking from my fellow man for as far back as I can remember. As a child, I took from my parents. When I was in the Army, I took from the government which took from everyone else. I went to college courtesy of the taxpayer via the GI Bill. After college and graduate school, I did research which was financed by tax dollars and got paid for it from the same source. I loved what I did so much, that I felt guilty getting paid for it. For less than half of my life, I gave to my kids and to a few students. When I retired, I got Social Security and a pension which I paid for out of my salary which was, in turn, paid for by the taxpayer.
Aside from provoking a few chuckles in my column, I have done little for my fellow humans other than consume and reproduce.
I find it hard to be proud of the fact that none of my kids are on the dole. Not one farms or builds houses or makes clothes. They are all as worthless as their father. One son and a grandson were also on a government payroll, in the Navy.
True, I figure that being a scientist and writer is not at the bottom of the "worthless" pile. I could have been a preacher or a lawyer -I had those options. I might even have been a politician in Sacramento or Washington, although I think that my moral upbringing might have prevented that.
In short, our society supports all sorts of worthless people who contribute little to the direct welfare of the rest of the population.
It doesn't hurt to help the needy, particularly if, in exchange, they will stay out of our way. We can afford it. And if they won't stay out of our way, why then we shouldn't give them anything. Let them steal like some of the more "respectable" members of our society; or let them starve. While we're at it, let's let their children starve too!
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