Remember Conservative Ideologues: You drink his blood after you molest him. It’s more fun that way*
I would like to think certain things transcend political, religious, and ideological divides. One might think that Meals-on-Wheels, a program that relies heavily on donations, discounts, and volunteers to bring meals to elderly shut-ins would be liked by all. I would like to think that aiding frail, elderly people is about as universal as it gets. But never underestimate the moral depravity of the conservative ideologue.
In a recent post, I wrote:
Maybe it’s that I grew up in Virginia, and I witnessed first hand what ‘honorable’ conservatives actually did. My all time favorite was when then-governor George “Macacawitz” Allen tried to pass legislation that cut all state funding for Meals-on-Wheels (a program that brings food to elderly shut-ins).
In blazed commenter Kevin to defend Macacawitz et alia (having first removed his copy of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead from his backside; boldface mine):
Was it efficient? Did it accomplish its goals? Were there private mechanisms that would serve as well? I am not sure I see the dishonor in trying to end welfare. Please elaborate.
To help this moral degenerate understand, I will “elaborate.” It’s very simple actually:
Helping frail, elderly people eat is not ‘welfare.’ It is what good people do. Eliminating funding to help said frail, elderly people eat is what bad people do.
Clearly, having indulged your Lizard Brain for so long has damaged your ability to empathize with your fellow human beings, so, to compensate, you have had to use external cues, such as assuming that whatever your authority figures do must be moral. Small problem: George Allen is a really awful person.
You might want to consider a new authority figure. Better yet, you might want to stop reflexively parroting conservative dogma. Even better, you might want to actually know what the hell you’re talking about.
Meals-on-Wheels is welfare? Dear God.
*The Mad Biologist does not advocate any sort of cruelty towards dogs. The Mad Biologist likes dogs (most of ’em, anyway). No puppies were harmed in the creation of this post.
Why is your first retort about welfare always a false dichotomy? Private charity doesn’t exist? Were people heartless fiends prior to Meals on Wheels programs? Did the elderly starve by the bushel? Or did private charity simply fill the inefficient and at times uncaring shoes of contemporary public assistance prior to its institution?
It is ridiculous that anyone legitimately questioning welfare is immediately libeled as a Randian cannibal. Even questioning the efficiency of welfare programs earns an unthinking, knee-jerk “You’re a baaaad man!” Perhaps if you took the same care I presume you would apply to biology when considering ethical questions you’d have something more than rhetoric to contribute to a discussion.
Having personally aided more than a few people, [including but not limited to disadvantaged groups] not as a public employee but simply as a person wishing to help out friends and make his social relations happier, I find your apparently habitual response to questions on the welfare issue to be bigoted and repulsive. Anyone not with you is inhuman; demonizing other people as a first response is not a great sign of objectivity.
I think Kevin needs to read more Dickens to see the effect of relying on the goodness of peoples’ hearts to provide for the poor, aged, handicapped and down-on-their-luck. Pre-New Deal, poverty among the elderly was considered one of the U.S.’s most intractable social problems. It was the failure of private organizations to deal with such endemic problems that led to the creation of the modern social support network (welfare having been framed into a demonic hellpit by whackjobs and wankers). Modern welfare’s deficiencies came from a conservative insistence that we only need to protect “wimmen and chillun” cause no real manly man would ever like, lose his job and not be able to find another or lose his business and be plunged into crippling depression or crippled in an accident. Nope, because of their lack of empathy, compassion or any other worthwhile human emotion towards anyone they don’t know personally, conservatives created a state where it is the economic interest of the the poor to break up their families.
So endeth the rant of the day.
On a purely practical basis, ending programs like meals-on-wheels is not ending a welfare program, it will exacerbate other welfare programs. What meals-on-wheels does is allow the elderly to remain independant [and happier] for a longer period of time. without the program, the frail elderly would be malnourished and more susceptible to disease – worsening the Medicare system. About the only long-term alternative for the low income elderly to meals-on-wheels is to go to a nursing home – with much of the cost put on a stressed Medicaid system.
It’s nice to have a family, religious, or other type of social support system for the elderly, but our history does not support this as justawriter commented. Another alternative is the Dick Lamm solution [former Governor of Colorado] carried out to its extreme – the the elderly “have a duty to die” and not be a resource burden on the younger generations. Is that your ideal, Kevin?
Kevin is flat wrong in his ‘critique’ of a ‘welfare’ program. It is also pathetic that he tries to obscure his position by saying that “hey, I have helped people (my friends), so even if what I am saying is clear apathy to those who depends on the program, I can’t be morally guilty.” Give me a break.
In Canada conservative politicians have been trying for years to shut down food banks which are run without any government assistance. Tell me why, cons. They claim that government assistance can and should be entirely eliminated, and to questions about helping the people affected they typically say it would, and should, be replaced by private charity. But when private charity does it they attack (unless, just by coincidence, the priavet charity is religious, in which case they love to hand them some money).
Kevin should actually study history before spouting off conservative BS. Social Security has cut the elderly poverty rate by nearly 70%. I know this post is about Meals-on-Wheels, but my point is that government programs are much more effective for large scale societal issues than voluntary measures. I want to live in a country that protects and provides-for those people who cannot protect and provide for themselves. To that end I am happy to pay taxes that feed ederly shut-ins. Someday that elderly shut-in may be me or someone I care about.
I will take the admittedly anecdotal accounts of my grandparents’ youth in the Depression as better evidence of the conditions in the US prior to the modern welfare state over Charles Dickens’ fictional accounts of 19th century England.
It was the depression that occasioned the New Deal, not concern for the elderly, as you’ve mischaracterized it. Further, the Great Depression only happened after the creation of the Fed, i.e. post-intervention in the market.
And last, concern for others doesn’t entail support for the Leviathan. If people were more concerned with local issues that they might have some chance of understanding, than global issues they haven’t a chance of comprehending or dealing with successfully, the world would be a better place.
“The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” -Louis D. Brandeis
Natural Cynic: You offer a false dichotomy. The absence of Meals on Wheels doesn’t entail starving elderly people. You yourself note the alternatives but discount them below:
“It’s nice to have a family, religious, or other type of social support system for the elderly, but our history does not support this as justawriter commented.”
As he commented regarding the fictive works of Charles Dickens, yup.
“Another alternative is the Dick Lamm solution [former Governor of Colorado] carried out to its extreme – the the elderly “have a duty to die” and not be a resource burden on the younger generations. Is that your ideal, Kevin?”
Is that your strawman, Anonymous Cynic? Why, yes it is! My ideal is a state that doesn’t attempt to enforce positive rights. When to choose to behave charitably is the sovereign right of any morally autonomous being.
Cuetio: I wish you were bright enough to grasp a pretty plain argument. Mike implied that anyone rejecting welfare statism was heartless and didn’t care about other people. I pointed out this was a crock. Plain enough. It has nothing to do with my [again] alleged apathy for random needy person X; I do behave charitably, I don’t do it as a public servant and Mike is flat out wrong. To be logical, it is not possible to feel empathy for an anonymous concept of a needy person, but why let reason get in the way of a nice rant?
I am just not so ignorant as to fail to understand why a system of distribution based on need is doomed to fail, as is has historically so many, many times. Can’t you left-wing statists make a single argument without going ad hominem? Evidently not.
My recently deceased grandparents were both elderly shut-ins and both were cared for by our family; we didn’t request your or anyone else’s money to do it, we did it from love and with our time and savings. Prepare to be stunned, as a family we saved money for things like their retirement and medical expenses and my parents took them in to their home when they couldn’t be alone. Gee, now there’s a radical idea! If you’re lucky, one day you might be old enough to be a shut in. If that happens let’s hope you don’t still feel entitled to the product of someone else’s labor. A good way to avoid that is to start saving your earnings.
I think I will join in with many of the other writers here in recommending that the heartless Kevin (none of us is going to take his good works seriously) be metaphorically hung drawn and quartered.
His economics seem a little simple minded:
‘If that happens let’s hope you don’t still feel entitled to the product of someone else’s labor. A good way to avoid that is to start saving your earnings.’
It assumes everyones labour is valued fairly, that they can save, and the economic system we have does not favor some over others. In other words if you end up doing well by the sweat of your brow (unlikely as it happens) neither luck or low inheritence taxes had anything to do with it.
The simple fact is that European countries that have strong welfare programs (much stronger than the US) have more contented citizens and less violence on the streets. According to Robert Sapolsky, societies that look after their members somewhat decently, rather than consigning some to hunger and others to superyachts, have (both rich and poor) lower levels of glucocorticoids and other stress-producing chemicals. Seems like win-win to me. I vote for meals on wheels to the old folk. On the other hand as a sop to Kevin I will agree with him on one point: ‘
Why, yes it is! My ideal is a state that doesn’t attempt to enforce positive rights.’
I do not endorse a wheels on meals program that force-feeds them.
I don’t oppose welfare, but I can understand the people who do, and I have a very close friend who works in a welfare office and can give lots of examples of abuse and unintended consequences. Kevin seems to want to extend the arguments against welfare–a centralized, bureaucratic system entirely funded by the state that doesn’t make any use of donations, volunteers, or discounts–to the partial funding of local* organizations that do make good use of private charity. Sounds like one of Bush Sr’s “thousand points of light” to me.
*From the Wikipedia entry linked: “Today, Meals on Wheels programs generally operate at the county level or smaller. Programs vary widely in their size, service provided, organization, and funding. The Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is a national clearinghouse for home-delivered meals programmes, but each program is entirely independent.”)
What? Your grandparents relied on charity from you instead of sticking it out the way true rugged individualists would have? How positively Marxist!
The “my family takes care of me” arrangement is certainly the way it should be, but it kind of sucks for elderly folks who don’t have families who can and do provide for them. I can’t buy the argument that some people don’t deserve hot meals because they didn’t have the foresight to have successful caring families who can afford to take care of them. That’s why they call programs like this a “social safety net.” Society acts as an extended family and takes care of the people who fall through the cracks.
“My recently deceased grandparents were both elderly shut-ins and both were cared for by our family; we didn’t request your or anyone else’s money to do it, we did it from love and with our time and savings. Prepare to be stunned, as a family we saved money for things like their retirement and medical expenses and my parents took them in to their home when they couldn’t be alone.”
Good for you, Kevin — I’m not being cyncial here. It’s admiral that you and your family could do this.
But what if there is no family ?– or the family lives at the other end of the country ?- it happens —
What if the money they put away runs out ?- that happens too.
If you had bothered to learn anyting about Meals on Wheels – you would know that it’s not free – payment is on a sliding scale —
And the most important goal of Meals on Wheels is not (and never was) to provide free meals anyway. The program is designed to make sure that the elderly person has human contact once a day as well as one cooked well-balanced meal.
The most important part of the program happens when the meal gets delivered. Those who deliver the meal spend a few minutes chatting – important socialization. The delivery person can check on the status of the house — is there a need for homecare?
But even more important thing is what happens when no one answers the door. Meals on Wheels meal deliverers in the North West Bronx where I live are responsible for reporting every time the senior does not answer the door. This triggers an immediate response from either a social worker, or EMT. They have found seniors wandering, fallen in the bathtub, very sick, etc.
If you’re lucky you may live to be old enough to need help. But you may not be as lucky as your grandparents – you may not have a support system in place.
In primitive societies, folks too old to support themselves and with no family ready or willing to provide support, die.
Obviously if you had your way – we’d be right back there.
a right wing aquaintance who would agree with Kevin often
bragged about his son, a programmer making big bucks. The son, recently married with a pregnant wife, just lost his job. outsourced (probably to India). he asked his father for help but father won’t help, father is angry that son filed for food stamps.
I would say that right ringers probably have a miserable family life, with many divorces and such. there are are two synonyms for “conservative”
Well, I’ve been thinking about this…maybe Kevin has a point. One of the criticisms leveled at welfare is that it can provide an “perverse incentives” not to seek work, or to have more children. Maybe we haven’t examined all the “perverse incentives” present in Meals-on-Wheels. We always hear about older women breaking their hips in falls. Osteoporosis is usually blamed–but what if these old women are PURPOSEFULLY breaking their hips just to get Meals-on-Wheels? What if women in their twenties and thirties are INTENTIONALLY consuming fewer dairy products so that they are more likely to break their hips and be eligible for Meals-on-Wheels when they are older? Maybe Macacawitz was really at the forefront of geriatric health maintenance when he took away funding for that government handout program called Meals-on-Wheels, snatching away all those perverse incentives for poor bone health….
Kevin: Natural Cynic: You offer a false dichotomy. The absence of Meals on Wheels doesn’t entail starving elderly people. You yourself note the alternatives but discount them below
The alternatives to MoW were given as examples of how more money and social disruption would be necessary to prevent malnutrition in the elderly. It’s nice to have been in a situation where your grandparents were well cared for. That is not the situation for millions of the elderly. You seem to have no ideas about those situations. Your only reference to the situation is an anecdote. If that’s the way you present evidence, then scienceblogs may not be a happy place for you. Look to history for evidence, not to a time when grampa Archie’s old LaSalle ran great.
My ideal is a state that doesn’t attempt to enforce positive rights. When to choose to behave charitably is the sovereign right of any morally autonomous being.
Then malnutrition for the unlucky elderly is your solution? Social Darwinism rides again.
I too have a big problem with unlucky people. They really drag the rest of us down. When we’re hiring people, I always randomly shred half of the resumes. Those were the unlucky people, and we sure don’t want to hire any of them into our department.
Darwin Youth know that we have no need for the elderly.
Lumping replies for brevity:
1) The reason I mentioned personal experience was not the confusion of anecdotes with conclusive data but the erroneous claim that disagreement with Mike = apathy to human suffering. A counter example to a universal claim serves to refute it, even on Scienceblogs.
2) Despite Mike and the posters being wrong on the facts and bigoted enough to assume them, the character assassination continues. I hope the inability to focus on arguments rather than unfounded speculations about the arguer is limited here.
3) Evidently, many posters are ignorant of the frequent historical failures and inefficiencies of command economies, of the systemic reasons for those failures, of the observations of the founders of the US on trading liberty for an assurance of safety [which Jefferson noted likely to result in the loss of both], and risk-minimizers to the point of being willing to delegate their personal autonomy to the state.
4) Most posters seem to be Rawlsian redistributionists; all outcomes, whether failure or success, are the result of luck. There is no moral consequence of one’s behavior.
One problem is that the veil of ignorance is a nonexistent and thoroughly impractical thought experiment. Rawlsian thought is not definitive of proper politics. That one’s prolonged existence is easily foreseen and that the failure to plan for one’s decline is imprudent and unethical stands as a counter point to his assertions.
Is the possibility of failure despite one’s best efforts sufficient warrant to delegate autonomy over one’s labor to the state? Whether you’d answer yes or no, this is a complex moral decision. So the lack of justification offered indicates dogmatism.
5) Socialism would be possible under a market system. In fact, insurance amounts to this; you could insure against the risk of whatever with whomever in a free market. You can’t be free in a command economy. My preference for autonomy is actually more inclusive. You could emulate short-sighted, risk minimizing statism with anyone willing in a capitalist political economy. You just can’t practice moral autonomy when people are too afraid of the consequences of their own behavior to legally allow other citizens freedom of choice and offer dehumanizing libel as justification for it.
“It assumes everyones labour is valued fairly, that they can save, and the economic system we have does not favor some over others. In other words if you end up doing well by the sweat of your brow (unlikely as it happens) neither luck or low inheritence taxes had anything to do with it.”
It doesn’t assume this at all. I am not an egalitarian, nor a Rawlsian, nor are either position required to favor a free market of wages and system of private property, even for a person such as myself who assumes he is never going to achieve the zenith of the earnings pyramid.
And what is the basis for your claim that Europeans are largely more content than US citizens?
France’s recent Islamic riots. Widespread and frequent European strikes. Striking, rioting citizens are happy citizens!
What you say of Meals on Wheels programs may be true, but what I initially asked Mad Mike about was a program he claimed was being cancelled by the state’s governor. All I asked was how efficient the program was, if it served its purpose better than local, private alternatives, etc. Of course, I have zero problem with private charity, religious or not.
And despite you offering a completely irrelevant straw man there, do you truly believe that welfare does not provide disincentives to work? Having met more than a handful of people who have felt shamelessly enough about it to relate exactly why it provided them personally with a disincentive, I will disagree with your implication that the disincentives are only a “claim” and not a simple fact.
“Good for you, Kevin — I’m not being cyncial here. It’s admiral that you and your family could do this.
But what if there is no family ?”
Then you should have been saving your money or hope someone is feeling sympathetic towards you.
“– or the family lives at the other end of the country ?- it happens –”
Then the family should make provisions. Caring for my grandparents imposed plenty of hardships on us. You make sacrifices when you care.
“What if the money they put away runs out ?- that happens too.”
You know what else happens? If you don’t labor, you starve. Human life requires labor. I don’t think being alive means you deserve to live at everyone else’s expense, especially once you become an adult. If you want someone to support you post-adulthood, you should behave like a moderately courteous being and ask. Someone else’s support should be voluntary and a privilege, not your entitlement. The moral test of objectivity here is that I personally am willing to live or starve by this ethic. I would never hope for you to be legally required to feed me whatever my state of ability or disability.
“If you’re lucky you may live to be old enough to need help. But you may not be as lucky as your grandparents – you may not have a support system in place.”
My grandparents had a support system in place because they saved money and successfully raised their children to be good people. Luck had much less to do with it than careful planning and a lot of work. This particular set of grandparents were both dirt poor during the depression, had no more than a high school education and my grandfather was in the Army Corps of Engineers through three wars. Blind luck did not bless them with a support system.
“In primitive societies, folks too old to support themselves and with no family ready or willing to provide support, die.
Obviously if you had your way – we’d be right back there.”
Obviously, you are as fond of strawmen and editorial statements to prop up your baseless assertions as some of the other posters. The only helpless people who would die in a free market would be the people no one cared to help out. My personal feelings of charity are not limited to my blood relations. Maybe yours are.
I agree with Kevin.
We should go even further in “encouraging” self reliance. We should defund way more than just welfare. Police? Why waste the money? Vigilante justice would save oodles of money.And the bonus is you would save a fortune on incarceration because vigilante justice tends to lead to lynching.the And those who thought long term (as we all should) could be relatively well prepared to withstand any contingency with proper stockpiles of food, ammunition and water. So FEMA should go, too. A federal minimum wage is, like, totally Commie. We all know that companies have always treated it’s workers fairly, and the minimum wage artificially inflates a workers value, driving down company profits, and forcing business closings and overseas relocations. So unions go to. I don’t see a Right to Join A Union in the Constitution. As a matter of fact, OSHA, DOI, and EPA all reduce the profitability of our precious companies. So do any Big Government Welfare Stateism regulations. The Market will surely be a better steward of our resources than someone with out a direct profit motive. After all, corporations have always acted in the best long term interests of it’s employees.
Think of how much more we could cut corporate tax rate! And we’d still have enough to buy plenty of new tanks and helicopters. In fact, if we lowered the pay rates of enlisted men (not officers, of course) we could afford to stay in the Middle East forever!
The bottom line is if you are either too stupid or lazy to provide yourself with perfect health till an old age, a large successful family, and good luck you deserve everything God does to you.
On further thought, it is obvious to me that we need at least [i]some[/i] Police presence. How else are we going to wiretap everyone to make sure no one is a Terrorist? And keep people from taking drugs and having sex with someone of the same gender. Not to mention having abortions, doing stem cell research or breaking the 10 commandments. Maybe we could combine the Military and the Police? That seems efficient. And efficiency saves money.
But isn’t that whole police thing still just too much like Big Government? Outsourcing to Blackwater or Haliburton is obviously the way to go….
“Evidently, many posters are ignorant of the frequent historical failures and inefficiencies of command economies, of the systemic reasons for those failures, of the observations of the founders of the US on trading liberty for an assurance of safety [which Jefferson noted likely to result in the loss of both], and risk-minimizers to the point of being willing to delegate their personal autonomy to the state.”
Supporting Meals-on-Wheels is equivalent to advocating a command economy? Talk about your straw men!
And just because someone is redistributionist doesn’t necessarily mean one is Rawlsian.
You got a lot of book-larnin’, there, son; maybe someday you’ll have some real experience of the world, too.
Sorry, Kevin, you should have known what would happen when you expressed your opinions on this “state is good at all costs” blog.
I didn’t see any post that actually adressed the points you raised without overgereneralizing, dissembling, setting up straw men, hurling ad hominems or just plain putting words in your mouth.
Kev, let this be a lesson to you: Don’t waste time trying to talk to liberals in an internet forum. Since there is no way to prove or disprove any claims made in this venue, people will just say whatever they want and believe it is the truth.
Hey, wait, I think I said the same thing to an atheist who was trying to argue against theists on the internet.
Damn, I was going to let this thread die an unnatural death but “state is good at all costs” blog? Read through the archives and find all the criticism of what “the state” does on public health issues. Meals-on-Wheels is Meals-on-Wheels; it is not welfare nor is typical of what the state does. If Kevin had come out against WIC, there would have been an even-handed debate. Kevin came out against Meals-on-Wheels. The problem is not that Kevin was expressing well-thought-out criticisms of liberal policies on a liberal blog; the problem is that Kevin was attacking a set of small-scale local programs that rely on some state money, but also volunteers, donations, and even fees for services, and equating it with welfare.
I suppose one could read Kevin’s posts as against MOW, but I didn’t see it that way. This whole thread was mostly people talking past each other, and it seems I did the same!
So I’ll take the correction and read more deeply next time.
Wow, Mike! Just put a cute puppy on your site and you’ll get 30 comments!! you clever dog. OK, half of them were Kevin and the other half were replies to Kevin, but it did make for a lively chat. How ’bout a pony next time, as in the little girl who was digging in a big pile of manure. A man walked by and said (no, he didn’t say Hey little girl, how ’bout some candy?), “Hey little girl, why you diggin’ in that pile of manure?” and she replies, “well I figured with all this manure, there’s gotta be a pony in here somewhere!”
have a nice day, everyone.
“well I figured with all this manure, there’s gotta be a pony in here somewhere!”
Isn’t that what keeps Xtians going back to the Bible?
“Kevin came out against Meals-on-Wheels.”
No I didn’t and it’s odd you’d say that as I specifically restated my problem for you. Mike blood libeled me [with puppy blood no less] for asking for the governor’s justifications for cutting MoW. What upset me was him slamming the guy without offering any justification or context. And he didn’t defend MoW as a local, volunteer, fee for service program; he just said I hated old people and drank puppy blood.
Further, the governor even being able to defund stands as a counter-point to your characterization of MoW as a local, volunteer-based, fee for service program. If it is actually such now, I have no problem with it at all, as I said before.
the fact that there is ANY argument about partial taxpayer funding of meals-on-wheels is mind blowing. this is the family values crowd — wanting, nay DEMANDING that the gubmint control what medical treatment women can or cannot avail themselves of, DEMANDING that the wealthiest among us should not be obliged to pay inheritance taxes, while at the same time becoming completely apoplectic at the idea that tax money be used to assist those at the bottom of the heap.
no wonder that insult to chimps everywhere is able to run loose in the white house.
the prayer i say every night before i go to sleep and every morning when i wake up is for kevin and his ilk to find themselves old, cold and hungry. when you find yourselves in that position, just keep repeating that even though you live in the richest, “most powerful” (has to be a trademarked term, no?) country on earth, you are a loser and can expect no help from your fellow citizens.
excuse me while i go spit out some more teeth.
“the prayer i say every night before i go to sleep and every morning when i wake up is for kevin and his ilk to find themselves old, cold and hungry.”
Well thanks, Karen Marie. I’ll wish you well in return, even if I am not quite so benighted as to be praying to the nonexistent. One thing I promise, on the day I magically wake up cold and hungry, the one thing I won’t do is curse you or legally pick your pocket.
I too am a Biologist, and perhaps even mad. I would very simply like to chat with someone to whom I can relate. I live in the “Windy City” (Chicago, and have some physical disabilities, which keep me in doors, much of the time.
If you feel like “taking a chance” and writing back, please do so. Being shut-in sucks.