Saturday, November 30, 2019
A recent issue of Commonweal includes a short piece by Max Foley-Keene called "Equality Isn't Cheap." Among other things, the author compares the "Nordic Welfare Model" to the "basic-security" model and argues that:
[a] welfare regime based on means-testing and income targeting . . . necessarily divides those who receive benefits from those who don’t. That leads non-recipients to grumble about having to subsidize an underclass of moochers, while recipients are subject to dehumanizing stigma. Such programs tend to be socially divisive and politically unstable. In contrast, universal programs promise to transcend existing economic cleavages and create broad social solidarity, because everyone benefits; this solidarity, in turn, helps protect universal programs from political attack.
He concludes by calling for "a politics that recognizes the satisfaction of social needs as a communal responsibility, that builds broad solidarity around preserving public goods, and that doesn’t fret over spending some cash."
Readers can decide for themselves whether the model Foley-Keene discusses is (in the United States) feasible or morally attractive. I did want to note, though, that from a Catholic perspective -- and notwithstanding the common view that the model or something like it is consistent with, or even supported by, the Church's social teachings -- it cannot be that the state assumes for itself the provision, and "crowd[s] out" non-state providers, the "basic necessity" or "social benefit" of "education." This is because parents have the moral, and in justice the legal, right to direct and control the education of their children and religious communities have the right to operate schools. As is stated in Dignitatis humanae:
Government, in consequence, must acknowledge the right of parents to make a genuinely free choice of schools and of other means of education, and the use of this freedom of choice is not to be made a reason for imposing unjust burdens on parents, whether directly or indirectly. Besides, the right of parents are violated, if their children are forced to attend lessons or instructions which are not in agreement with their religious beliefs, or if a single system of education, from which all religious formation is excluded, is imposed upon all.