Someone must tell me precisely why we can't have it both ways, why the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet does not provide The Basics, acceptable shelter, health care, and nutrition, to every man and woman and poor child who just cannot pay for them-- and stop this damned nonsense once for all about how that just runs so dangerously counter to free enterprise, healthy markets, and individualism? There's no reason to think that above these basic levels of decency markets and profits cannot flourish.
Because of course they can: there is and always will be markets for the better-off. Not as much profit for some, perhaps? Well, tough. And the point really is that were all families fed, sheltered, and their basic health requirements adequately met and sustained either on their own or through the collective will, tens of millions more would be working productively and growing this market economy far more than it grows now.
The great majority of Americans thought at one time that providing day care, publicly supported and privately sponsored, would be a waste. Many hundreds of millions of women, here and in other countries, proved that idea inane and the workforce and Western economies have never been the same.
For one to believe, really believe, that the structurally poor so fundamentally lack the sense of individualism, the duty and drive required to stand up and work and participate in civic life once the basics are no longer a daily, weekly, monthly, year-over-year soul-sapping and vicious grind, then the problem may well not be in the tremendous majority of poor people's hands, arms, feet, minds, hearts and guts...but somewhere else much closer to home.
The Senate just passed what I think will be the first of a series of Jobs Bills. The vote was 70-28.