<<In a note discussing genetically engineered crops and the question
posed by Lockhart, you wrote in part:
> - but, on the other
>hand, people welfare and food stamps that actually *do* feed the hungry
are "too expensive" for us to afford.
I agreed with almost 99% of what you had to say there until I read that
small comment. I am not at all aware of your background and therefore
have no information on how you may have come to the conclusion that such
programs are beneficial. But having lived a life where I have been many
times closely associated with persons receiving state and federal
welfare, and having been in a family where welfare was a way of life for
several years, I can state categorically that very little of the welfare
programs that have been in existence in the US for the last 50 years has
done any good at all.>>
Hi Dan -
Yeah, I had a little tug on that when I wrote that line, knowing I was
opening a can of worms with it.
I can see the arguments on both sides of the welfare issue (corrupts the
work ethic vs. safety net for those in need). I've not studied the details
of the current system enough to say what it's exact failures were and how
to design a system that would be better. It sounds like you have some good
thoughts about some of the design problems as it currently is. And (are
you surprised?) I do have some thoughts in reply...
First, I agree that the work ethic is important and should be encouraged.
Whether from a practical angle or a spiritual one, being productive and of
service to others is important and deeply satisfying, when it's life
Second, I can accept that there are those who take advantage of the welfare
system and that should stop.
But I just can't believe that that's true of everyone in it, that the
system could go away and everyone could support themselves just fine, that
there are no people truly in need.
First, there's the fact that Fed monetary theory and thus policy in this
country *mandates* that about 8 million people are always unemployed, or
else they start tinkering with interest rates to make it so (else those
pesky workers would get too much power and drive wage rates up).
Second, I feel that the education system very often fails to empower people
to shape positive constructive lives, that rampant disfuncationality in
families and institutions deeply scars people's emotions (as does war,
etc.), and that the system fails and wounds many people on the path to
adulthood. Some survive anyway, but many don't, and I can't be heartless
to their pain, just leave them to suffer without caring. When you have a
few failures, it's personal; when so many occur (ex. homeless), I think one
must examine the structures that generate them. Not to remove individual
responisibility, but to create a society that empowers people, rather than
adding 500 lb. weights to their backs that they have to overcome and feel
bad about themselves if they don't. I think many personal failures are the
result/the symptoms of choices made at a societal level, are predictable,
and reveal how our society and it's structures (schools, government,
religions, work places) are ill and need to heal themselves.
So when I look at what would stop generating people who truly can't support
themselves (vs. those fraudulently on welfare), my personal approach would
be the more structural work (G-d forbid a small question could ever stay
small, but we keep sweeping things under the carpet and the truth is, we
got a darn lumpy carpet!). What a difference it would make if we had an
education system that regularly empowered people to discover their true
gifts and desire to serve (vs. focussing on teaching facts about dead
people that don't seem to have relevance to how one might shape one's life
today) - that taught work and service as joy (vs. pain and drudgery) - that
had room for a wide range of positive enthusiastic self-expression (vs.
boxing people down into controllable automatons) - and had a powerful
program to get people ready to live joyfully, peacefully, and productively
in the world (through psychological self-analysis; understanding one's own
learning and work style and that of others; having a chance to explore
one's own ideas and see where they lead; practicing debating ideas and
conflicting needs/desires peacefully, etc.)
And what a difference it would be if work didn't so often require people to
participate in mind-numbing and earth-destroying activities, so they have
to disconnect from their own feelings/conscience/passion/wisdom to survive
(and then drink to try to keep those feelings/that life force down, and
take valium/prozak, and beat their wife and children... etc.) And if media
didn't say so often and skillfully that products, and thus money, were the
path to all happiness, over all other things in life (like heart, Spirit,
relationship, etc.). Etc....
So, if I were re-examining welfare, I'd look at how to help people come out
more aligned/less damaged in the first place, and help them fix the places
in themselves where it came out too messed up (working with the person to
see what's missing for them to move forward in making a contribution and
supporting them in taking actions to make the needed repairs).
So,anyway, that's a whole another can 'o worms.
But I left my comment about corporate vs. individual welfare in my original
email because I think it highlights an important point in this conversation
about corporate activities. Those same people that will say that
government welfare to a person only corrupts them don't seem to worry that
the same thing might occur with government welfare to a corporation. With
a corporation, we're told money to them will "trickle down" to us (ignoring
how often they use the money to move their jobs to Indonesia) - while not
considering that money invested in empowering individual human beings might
also (and perhaps more often) benefit all of society - help us have a
culture of empowered human beings (and less crime, communicable diseases,
What this difference between the viewpoints of individual and corporate
welfare means is that we empower the already strong, making them stronger
and further weakening the power of the community to effect actions they do
that harm us - but we fail so often to empower the weak who really need it.
I don't think that's a strategy that's either smart or compassionate.
There are those, like Mother Theresa, that honestly feel that you can work
for the long-term goals but still should care for the suffering person
right in front of you too. But even if we ignore compassion, just on a
practical level, weak people don't go away - they go crazy and shoot people
or are dirty and pee on the streets and breed diseases, etc.
So I brought up the mainstream's almost completely one-sided negative
conversation about welfare to highlight its one-sided positive conversation
about their corporate sponsors.
And I said it to point out that the corporations' Mother Theresa
justifications for, say, tinkering with genes are just camoflauge (sp?) to
justify actions they want to do for their own self-interest (and the harm
to others be d***ed). i.e., they start from "I see value to the corporation
in owning seeds and producing more products from manipulating them" and ask
"How do we sell it to the American people? Oh, we'll say we'll be feeding
the hungry, they can't object to that!" no matter how little basis there is
for that assertion (and the government and media buy it!) - rather than the
corporations (and government and media) starting with the question first -
"How do we feed the hungry?" and really examining the best path to that. I
just don't see actions from corporations consistent to a real commitment to
ex. feeding the hungry and I was just shining a light from a few different
angles to try to show that...
Anyway, I appreciate being in dialogue with you and hearing your thoughts
<<If you give a man a fish, you feed him for today. Teach him to fish,
and you have fed him for life. (Don't know who said that, but I like
We agree on that! (BTW, I think I remember this at least being attributed
to Confucious or one of them Chinese Wise Guys....)
Hope you have a Happy New Year!