“Take care of each other… just not *those* people”

There’s a FB post, made a couple of years ago by one Lori Gallagher Witt, listing all the reasons she’s a liberal: https://www.facebook.com/thethinker42/posts/10155931022478700

It’s making the rounds again, miss-attributed to Ron Howard, and just like every other time it comes around, it gets under my skin…

Here’s #4 in her list:

I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.

And her statement at the close of her letter:

I think that about covers it. Bottom line is that I’m a liberal because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work 80 hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money.

Sound familiar?

It’s the usual, expected knee-jerk argument against Basic Income. “We’re supposed to take care of each other, but not those lazy freeloaders who’ll take your Hard Earned Money!”

I do believe that a wealthy, civilized, modern nation should provide a stable financial floor for all of it’s citizens, regardless of their participation in paid employment.  I believe to fail to do so is an abrogation of our duty as a society.  I believe that the health and maturity of our society is based on how we treat the lowest in our midst, not how happy the highest are- and the USA’s ‘health and maturity’ is suffering from cultural Ebola, SARS and Coronavirus all at once.

I believe very strongly that things like “job guarantees” and minimum wage laws, implemented without a Universal Basic Income to support them, are ageist, ableist, and leave out huge segments of the population who are doing things that don’t fit the Real Job paradigm.

The belief that only Hard Workingtm Americans are worthy of societal benefits without gatekeeping, shame or being called a “lazy neighbor” is part and parcel of a long tradition of social conditioning; that adult human beings must participate in paid employment to be valid, to have ‘pride’ and self worth, and to be considered ‘productive’ members of society.

It’s created generations of people who believe they are somehow failing if they aren’t selling their labor to others, no matter what they actually are doing- freelance or contract work, unpaid caregiving, volunteering and civic work; even things with no financial return on investment, because why in the hell is everything in our society based on how much money it does or doesn’t bring in??

This cultural whip-cracking is the source of uncounted hours of mental anguish and suffering- people hating themselves for not having the right kind of job, people staying in exploitative, harmful jobs because they don’t have a functional choice, people neglecting family, friends, themselves because they’ve had it drilled into them from day one that work comes first, and if you’re not working, you are LITERALLY worthless.

And all of that is clearly enumerated in Lori’s post. She’s a liberal, she thinks we should be helping people out… but only the right kind of people. Only those who are ‘contributing’.  Everyone else can bugger right off, because they’re just “lazy”.  It’s liberal… but it’s “I’ve got mine, fuck you” liberalism.


If we are to be truly “liberal” with helping others, we need to understand that the first step is to lay a solid foundation with Universal Basic Income.