In this long PBS style fundraiser marathon of a speech that Robert Reich gave in Washington about his book The Common Good, I got the sense that he was talking about what’s called the social contract. This idea that Social Democrats/Democratic Socialists and some Progressives push that government is there to make sure everyone is taken care and has what they need to live well in society. And Reich is probably using the New Deal from the 1930s and the Great Society from the 1960s, as his idea of what the social contract or the common good is.
As a Liberal I’m all in favor of a public safety net for people who truly need it. And if we’re going to continue to have a public safety net for people who are uneducated and under skilled, than that safety net should be used to empower people so they can get a good enough job to become economically self-sufficient and no longer need public assistance at all. Instead of just giving low-skilled workers and non-workers money that is produced by people who work hard for a living and don’t qualify for public assistance.
I’m all if favor of requiring people to who are on Welfare to go to work and even take the first job that opens up for them that they’re qualified for. As well as giving them child care assistance so they can go to work, if they have kids. As well as education assistance so they can go back to school and further and finish their education, so again they can get themselves a good job. That programs like Medicaid and Food Assistance, to use as examples, Public Housing would be another one, would be for low-income workers, instead of non-workers.
My idea of a safety net ( which I prefer over social contract or welfare state ) is a public social insurance system. There for people who can’t survive even in the short-term without that financial assistance. But also there to help those people get on their feet economically. Similar to auto insurance, or property insurance. You don’t use those insurances to pay your bills. You use them when your car is in an accident, or your house is on fire or gets flooded.
A safety net should be for people who lose their jobs, don’t have a good education, can’t afford health insurance, don’t make enough money to feed themselves, can’t afford housing. Not for people who simply don’t want to work in America.