The madding crowd with a social conscience
To the editor:
I have three words for Jay Fleitman. Get over it. Barack Obama is his president, just as George Bush was mine for eight years. That’s democracy.
Everyone is sick of hearing the Republicans bellyache about “freeloaders.” As a percentage of GDP, the U.S. spends far less on social welfare than most other industrialized nations. There are many reasons people find themselves having to rely on safety nets: loss of jobs, poor health, an assortment of disabilities, etc.
It is not for Jay Fleitman to judge who qualifies and who doesn’t. The number of people who legitimately benefit from these programs far outweighs the number of cheaters. About 6 percent of our budget goes to directly helping the poor. I doubt that will break the bank for Fleitman. If he’s such a fiscal conservative, he should know that to do nothing would cost much more.
As for personal responsibility, it’s impossible for children to take personal responsibility for their cold and hunger, but it should be possible for grown-up Republicans to take responsibility for the failed policies of the Bush administration. But they don’t.
Since moving to the Pioneer Valley I have been so impressed with the activism of people who spend their lives helping others. People who barely have enough for themselves find ways to help those in need. I love the community spirit. It’s patriotism at its finest and it’s what built this country. It’s no wonder Jay Fleitman feels out of place. He’s surrounded by people who have a social conscience. It must be maddening for him.