One common criticism of classical liberalism and the GOP members who identify with this ideology is that they don’t care about the poor, children or the elderly. It is said that the belief in self-reliance, self-determination and the free market is tantamount to anarchy and savagery.
To those who would make those statements, I would pose this question: “Just how well is your plan working?”
I have offices in both Houston, Texas and Vancouver, BC. Currently, I spend the bulk of my time in Canada, the land of socialized medicine and nanny state approaches to welfare.
There are two routes for me to traverse to get from the TransCanada Highway to my apartment on the west end of Vancouver. One is First Avenue that eventually takes me past Rogers Arena – where the Canucks skate. On game nights, the only way to avoid turning a twenty minute commute into an hour and a half, is to go down West Hastings Street. Hastings Street is something of a chameleon. In the daylight, it is a regular street running through an older, slightly bruised part of town – but at sundown, a transformation takes place. At dusk, the street turns into a movie setting of post-apocalyptic decay and hopelessness. Within minutes of the rush ending when there are more shopping carts than cars, the area is inundated with the homeless and drug addicts.
Because at 134 Hastings, there is a “supervised injection site”, a needle exchange and a shelter.
I guess it could be argued that Canada’s permissive attitude toward drug use and its government programs for the homeless is a sort of a Frankenstein’s monster made of equal pieces culled from the dead parts of libertarianism and socialism. It is a strange union indeed – but my purpose is not to ridicule, commend or critique any particular approach, even Canada’s, it is to condemn them all…because none of them are working – either those of the US or Canada.
Stopped at a light on Hastings one evening this past week, I watched as the images of the less fortunate of Vancouver flashed through car headlights on the crosswalk as if I was staring into some sort of human mutoscope. As it progressed, I began to realize that I was feeling states of sadness and somewhat strangely, detached entrancement as the parade of humanity continued. How did these people come to this point in their lives? What, if any, future do they have? Why are they there and I am in a warm, dry car on the way to my warm, dry apartment where there is a fully stocked cupboard?
As I contemplated the answers, I realized that there is no single answer. There are as many answers as there are reasons for each individual to be there. Drug addiction, mental illness, poor financial decisions, choice or combinations thereof – reasons as many and as varied as the sex, height and weight of the cortege moving past. It is for that specific reason that a collective solution can and will never work.
Progressives do not understand faith and as such claim that Christian charity is a poor answer. They believe that people simply do not care enough to help others. I’m not pushing religion as the only answer but it seems to me that governmental programs are one dimensional and impersonal. I do know that Jesus commanded each one of us, as individuals, to act toward our brothers, sisters and their children with individual compassion. The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us how the heart of an individual can change a life – we are taught to minister to both the physical and spiritual needs of another downtrodden individual. He didn’t say, “Go ye forth and form a group of people to take money from all and give to some – and then after thou sendeth them the check, forget thee about them.”
Government is cold. It does not care, love or feel empathy. It warehouses people. Racks and stacks them like stock boy at Wal-Mart. It can never touch a person’s soul – I can’t imagine that getting your EBT card electronically refilled at the first of the month is much of a spiritual experience – and I can’t imagine that people are willing to change unless the sickness in their soul is cured and I believe that it takes another individual to care enough to facilitate such a change. It seems to me that only classical liberalism is the only ideology that creates the individual freedom and the necessary financial and social capital to address both the body and the spirit.
The point of all of this is to recognize that the poor, the homeless and the addicted are present no matter the welfare system design. They are in the US, Canada, and the UK and even in the socialist democracies of Europe and the communist enclaves of South America. No current system is successful in eliminating this condition.
I do believe that not everybody deserves or even wants to be helped. Some belong in a hospital or mental institution but until we recognize that no state sponsored system is working, our societies will continue to struggle with this problem. Maybe the answer is more classical liberalism, not less.