Friday, June 20, 2014

A Rose By Any Other Name

This blog is going to be rather redundant for most of my friends, as they all understand the concept of things like public water, public sewers, public fire departments, etc.  As a (supposedly) civilized and industrialized nation, we construct agencies and networks to provide for the general public in ways that the average individual or even small grassroots organizations cannot.

Surely, we all can (and do) help one another - friends, family and strangers - in small ways.  We shovel the sidewalk or cut the grass of the handicapped neighbor or elderly neighbor.  We do things that are just humane.  "Human kindness."  But we don't have the resources, the equipment, the training to deal with large fires or purifying water in large amounts.  For this - we need large utilities, organized and trained professionals.

Too many people get their undies in a knot over the word socialism, when in fact unemployment insurance, worker's compensation, family and medical leave, food stamps….socialism all.  Public parks, public libraries, police, public schools, public transit, AMTRACK, disaster relief, on and on.

Churches and non-profit organizations can only do so much, and as long as organized religions continue to build expensive, opulent houses of worship, it's unlikely that their membership is going to increase (or their coffers) because people look at that as waste, just as some Christians complain about paying taxes to help the poor and less-fortunate.  One of the largest churches in my home town has a new compound that looks like a landing strip for a UFO.  It's absolutely huge.  It's obnoxious.  Now, that congregation probably includes some very nice people who make some very nice contributions every Sunday, but on the surface, to the rest of society, it just doesn't look right.

We have social service agencies because we need a more structured way of dealing with problems.  Without it, you know damn well that many individuals would say,"screw 'em, let 'em starve, let 'em suffer," more out of penuriousness and lack of benevolence than anything. People who exhibit that "I got mine - screw you" mindset.  We're all part of the solution, and we're all part of the problem.  We'll always have poor people and those who are in dire situations.  We'll probably always have some unemployment.  And unfortunately, we'll probably always have slackers.  That's life.  But we don't let that fact deter us from the task at hand, or allow it to be an excuse for turning our backs on those in need.

But no.  On the whole, smaller organizations, churches and the like, much less individuals are not equipped to deal with the situation.

Even the Amish, that one might think of as a closed society; one that takes care of it's own, is not a perfect example. On an individual basis, groups may choose to avail themselves of various modern conveniences or not. They make use of local law enforcement, hospitals, and things like raw material processing (lumber, steel, engines).  They are far from self-sufficient. As regards their need for healthcare - just like the rest of us - their ability to help one another is still dependent upon having a large enough pool of resources (meaning money to pay medical bills) to draw from.  And, because - on average - the Amish don't avail themselves of more regular doctor visits (annual checkups), they exhibit a considerable amount of advance disease/illness situations, just like anyone else without access to basic health insurance.  So, while the Amish faith and lifestyle may satisfy their spiritual needs, it's far from sufficient to deal with larger social issues.

So, let's not get all frothy about the word socialism or the fact that we pay taxes to provide services for someone WE would not personally help or have sympathy for.  Don't like it?   Try the Amish. But uh….they still pay taxes.

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