For more than a century welfare states have developed both in Western Europe and in North America. The welfare state is based on the idea that the state or the government should be responsible for maintaining a certain level of service for its citizens. This is a model whereby the state assumes the responsibility for the welfare if its citizens. In a welfare state, there is a social safety net, which provides for a minimum level of housing, subsistence and health care. However these welfare states all come at a price, as the resources to fund these programs must come from the tax base, which in turn creates a system where the citizenry is subsidizing many people. There are arguments on both sides of the welfare state debate, with one side saying that we have a responsibility to our fellow people to not let them suffer because of a lack of resources, and the other saying that a welfare state creates a sense of entitlement and dependence among the people, and hard working tax payers should not be asked to subsidize this.
[...] government's failure to ratify this covenant illustrates the second-class status the United States has generally accorded economic human rights in comparison to its support (albeit uneven and selective) for civil and political rights. Among the U.S. presidents who have followed Roosevelt (1933-1945), only Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) displayed a credible commitment to economic human rights, if actions are the measure of commitment. (Neubeck, 2006: 22). President Carter saw poverty amelioration as a government responsibility. In 1977 he proposed to Congress legislation entitled Program for Better Jobs and Income. [...]
[...] What if the millions of hungry people in the United States were to sue because government policies were denying them their human right to food? The tens of millions who cannot afford health insurance could likewise sue in the face of their inadequate health care. Who would pay for and who would produce and provide these things? How could such rights ever possibly be respected? (Neubeck, 2006: 30). It is clear that there is an argument on both sides of the welfare state debate, and which side of it you fall comes down to personal values, and whether you believe it important that there be a minimum level that people are allowed to fall. [...]
[...] Viewing poverty as a human rights issue would mean rejecting the notion that it is the personal responsibility of the impoverished individual. The very presence of impoverished people in the United States to whom assistance was being denied would be a human rights violation. Governmental units at all levels would have to take responsibility, whenever appropriate, for addressing poverty. Present-day federal-state programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, would have to be replaced with policies that treat poverty as a systemic problem requiring society-wide solutions that reach out to all who were in need. (Neubeck, 2006: 29). [...]
[...] It comes down to the unwinding of the welfare state in areas like New Orleans. These people had no means of escaping the storm, they did not own cars, they could not afford a bus or plane ticket to leave, nor would they be able to afford a hotel or motel and the expense of eating away from home. Many were so impoverished and socially isolated that they did not even know where they could go because they had never left New Orleans. [...]
[...] The problem is that there has been a systematic refusal by the top tiers of American government to agree that everyone in the Untied States has fundamental human rights that need to be respected, protected, and fulfilled. Recent reforms to the welfare policy are going in the wrong direction or a nation that expects to be thought of as one that respects it people. People in the United States, those like single mothers who are particularly vulnerable, exist with the most meagre of resources, and live an existence of severe poverty. [...]
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