Heart Solutions

We canít come up with real solutions for the diminishing resources we face as a society until we all agree to a few basic premises.† The first premise, which at least rhetorically is shared by both parties in the current debate is that the most accurate measure of any civilization is seen by how it cares for its least fortunate, most vulnerable members. The Republicans family values are at their very core calling for a society that embraces the idea that we care for one another in the way that their Christian ideology dictates. The second premise that must be acknowledged is that in this humane society that both parties claim to create there must be a safety net, which provides a minimum of support for health care, food and lodging for those unable to provide for themselves.

Looking at other countries who have navigated this terrain successfully and even looking into our own history, when as recently as the 1970s our tax rate was considerably higher than its current levels, we have followed the biblical passage dictating: ď To those who much is given, much is expected.Ē Speaking with my cousin recently about all this, I could hear her frustration in the question:† ďWhy do I have to pay for other peopleís bad health choices, addictions, and laziness?Ē† She is a family practice doctor in an inner city and she works hard helping people with these issues, but she doesnít feel like she should be taxed more to cover the expenses of people who canít pay for the consequences of their own lives. I grapple with those feelings myself struggling with our own tax liability which is above 30%.

I donít know if I really fully understood the scope and size of the population of people in this country that depend on government aid to survive.†† A recent Daily Show episode used a little humor to demonstrate the tragic reality that over half the states in our union are overdrawn by billions to the federal government year after year.† At least half our states take in way more federal aid than they pay out in taxes.† Ironically, these are the same states that want the government to run like a business, that want to end government subsidies.† Do they not realize what that means for the communities and families that make up this losing business proposition?

The discussion hit home for me in a deeply meaningful way this summer when I drove into the 115-degree heat of the California desert valley to see one of my oldest friends who is dying of cancer.† I was struck not just at the frailty of her body but also at the fragility of the economics that supports her.† She has, as long as I have known her, struggled to make a living as an artist. Since she has fallen ill , she has not been able to keep her teaching contracts.† Her teaching job was contractual so she never earned any benefits.† Consequently now, her medical care and livelihood relies on government assistance.† Just a few weeks later, I heard from another old †friend who had broken a vertebrae in his neck and would have to undergo surgery.† He also worked hard his entire life in the non-lucrative field of ministry. His care and livelihood is also dependent on Social Security and Medicare.

Recently, I have been making new friends through a church group that shares the space at my kidís high school. They have been helping us to re- landscape an inner courtyard in memory of some students that were tragically lost a couple of years ago. The courtyard theme is about positive change and I have been so inspired by the generosity and willingness of this church community to open their hearts and their precious time to our project.† We donít talk politics when we do this work of heavy lifting. We are there as a community trying to do something that serves the greater good, but none of us individually.† I see their bumper sticker that put them on the other side of the political dialogue from where I live, but I also see their actions.

It brings the confusing rhetoric about what needs to happen to the only place we can reconcile our differences: our heart.†† I know that the devil lives in the details, especially when it comes to money, but it would be a giant leap forward if we could all look beyond our crumbling party lines and recognize how much more similar our vision of our future is. If we want to build a nation that can outlast the massive changes that our environment will continue to demand from us, the only path that can hold us securely is a compassionate one. At its heart, in every detailed choice must be the recognition that we really are our brotherís keeper. Our lives could easily and swiftly be transformed to look like those who barely survive.

This ancient idea that we are all in this together, that none of us succeeds where others fail is foundational to all spiritual thought and the hallmark of a great and lasting civilization. The heart of our disagreement in this politically polarized landscape we call America comes down to our hearts.


Mary B.
Mary B5 years ago

There is nothing wrong with the idea that the government SHOULD take care of it's people, just like tribes took care of their own, and farmers take care of their livestock and pet owners take care of their pets. The only thing wrong is that tax money is used to do it. The basic needs of all people should be supplied directly by printing it and distributing it thru the safety net rather than printed and given to the banks to loan out.
Then there would be none of this BS about who is deserveing. We are all deserveing and it's long past time to get over that rediculous argument once and for all.

Lyn Simcock
Lyn Simcock5 years ago

I'm 52 and (aside for 6 years of marriage when I wasn't allowed to work) have worked for my living since I was 18 in secretarial/administration roles. On only 2 occasions in my adult life have I had to rely on 'income support' from the government.

The first time in the UK when I finally escaped an abusive marriage in 1986 and had nothing but the few belongings I'd managed to save in a black binbag. For 34 british pounds a week I had to "sign on" to declare that I'd not earnt anything during the last period - including through prostitution. I was treated like a 'dirty' parasite by anyone I had to deal with, regardless of my actual circumstances - while people who'd been signing on for years were treated almost like friends.

The 2nd time was in Australia 7 years ago - I'd completed a contract and been out of work for 6 weeks when I was reduced to asking the government for help. I was told I'd have another 6 weeks to wait because I should have claimed immediately (obviously knowing that I wouldn't find more work as soon as I'd finished that contract!). I finally received 2 reduced payments but my financial and personal situation was investigated to the point of embarrasment and I heard many statements like "well ... beggars can't be choosers!"

Like all other workers, I've paid taxes out of every pay-cheque received - to the tune of thousands. My support over both occasions only amounted to a few hundred because, on both occasions, I found work as quickly as I possibly c

Past Member
clare r5 years ago

does seem wrong how you can work hard and get nothing when you need it.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L5 years ago


Nessie Benjamin
Nessie B5 years ago


Lin Moy
Lin M5 years ago

I think with government spending $500 for a light bulb or things like that is what make some of us so mad. Then they have the grand $500 a plate dinner for who knows what. They do just as much stupid stuff as anyone so how can they talk about the poor as they do? When I see people on welfare and food stamps going out drinking, buying nice cars and wearing nicer clothes it makes me mad too. It makes it harder for those staying home with their family to get help because of how they act. It upsets me to see some welfare queen getting her nails done every week when most of us buy the cheap stuff and do it ourself. The rich have to change too if they expect poor folks to. But those who do right should not be treated badly either. Most of us would be glad not to receive help so please treat us with some respect.

John S.
John Steinsvold5 years ago

An Alternative to Capitalism (since we cannot legislate morality)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: "There is no alternative".
She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider.
Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: "Home of the Brave?"
which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:


John Steinsvold

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."
~ Albert Einstein

George Payerle
George Payerle5 years ago

One of the few real flaws on Care2, Wendy Stragr, is that there is no provision for sending green stars to the writers of great articles. Thanks for this one. The occasional sound of sanity, although like a voice crying out in the wilderness, is most uplifting.

Victoria P.
Victoria P5 years ago

Great article. I'd like to add that I think part of the problem is the idea that the only people that should receive assistance are "deserving" people. Who then decides who is deserving? In a practical sense it means that those who are deemed less than deserving, ie people who look like they have made poor choices as well as those who are simply unlikable, will be ignored and ultimately left to suffer and perhaps even die. Is that really who we wish to be as a nation and community? Who of us doesn't know someone who is wonderful and suffering seemingly inexplicably? It could very well be anyone of us at anytime. I think it always rewards us to render assistance whether the folks in need are "deserving" or not.

Nicole Weber
Nicole W5 years ago

thank you