Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Ending Expectations That Adults Work For A Living Erases Human Dignity

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the most crippling form of poverty was seen as the poverty of dignity. To read all the letters and diaries and recollections of the time is to see that the severe economic hardship caused by the loss of a job was often considered temporary and survivable. But what destroyed the human spirit — what petrified people the most — was a loss of dignity caused by the loss of work.
The generation of the Great Depression demonstrated that economic poverty did not permanently cripple, as long as human dignity survived. That kept alive a spirit of hope and will. When a person lost dignity, however, he lost everything. A loss of money is recoverable; a loss of dignity often is not.
The word dignity seems to have gone out of favor. Politicians, educators, and media commentators rarely use that word very much. They talk about income and rights and inequality and discrimination, but almost never dignity.
Yet dignity has a much longer history in the human lexicon than any of those other words. Over centuries of human existence, dignity defined the highest of human ideals and pursuits. The work one does, the way one provides for and protects one’s family, has historically been a crucial ingredient of human dignity.
For centuries, work has been bound with human dignity. But that connection appears to have weakened. Once seen as the party of working people, the Democratic Party has evolved into a party that considers work to be a burden, inconvenient, and even degrading. Such attitudes come out in the party’s shifted economic and social agendas.
President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, strongly supported by nearly all Democrats, sought to make more permanent certain unconditional government grants to adults with children, regardless of whether those adults were working. These grants were instituted by the American Rescue Plan, enacted by the Democrats last March, which changed the child tax credit to automatic taxpayer grants to adults with children, with no work requirement.
Admittedly, eliminating the child tax credit work requirement recognized the problems involved in finding a job during the Covid shutdowns, but the job market is now wide open. Therefore, as Republicans argue, the recent expiration of the Covid-inspired child subsidies presents an opportunity to return to the original scheme, which included a work requirement.
How Dismissing Work Brings Oppression
This dismissal of work, ironically, reflects an attitude that infused the Great Society social welfare programs instituted during the 1960s. But because those programs proved disastrous to people who became trapped in them, the 1996 welfare reform sought to reinstate work requirements and thereby restore work to an important value in social policy.
Despite the success of the 1996 reform, Democrats now want to return to the work-dismissive status of the 1960s. Even more ironically, this dismissal of work occurs when jobs and work opportunities are plentiful.
When a society dismisses and disregards a foundation of human dignity, it travels a path toward inhumanity and oppression. One consistent characteristic of oppressive, totalitarian regimes is the disregard for human dignity. Such regimes talk about income and rights and inequality and discrimination, but they completely disregard human dignity.
Throughout all of human history, dignity has been tied up with work. It is not money or consumption or leisure that confer dignity, it is work, because work builds the foundation of human independence, allowing individuals to set the terms of how they and their families will live. Work is the only way through which individuals can take responsibility for their lives and the lives of their families.
Leftists No Longer See Value in Work --->READ MORE HERE
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