AFTER READING "Life on the Streets" ("Commentary," by Joan Connell, November-December 1997), I was reminded of how much this whole dismantling of the safety net puzzles me. Not so much that it is occurring, but that it gets such broad approval.
It seems as though many Americans have a greater desire than ever to eliminate social programs—just as their chances of needing them have increased. How many of us have at least one friend or neighbor who has been "downsized" and has had considerable difficulty finding another job?
Why is it that so many hard-working Americans—only a few paychecks away from the poverty line—want to work without a net? In the information age and in the global economy, many of the old formulas no longer apply. Financial insecurity is not just for the poor anymore.
Many have said that in dismantling the safety net, we are "abandoning our responsibility to the poor." Considering the nature of our economy today, we could expand that to say we are abandoning our responsibility to the poor, to ourselves, and to our children.