Forward Thinking: How Would You Design Our Social Safety Net?

Forward Thinking: How Would You Design Our Social Safety Net? June 4, 2013

I’ts that time of the month again! Head on over to Camels with Hammers to see Dan’s roundup of the posts written in response to his prompt on the ethics of cruelty two weeks ago, and with that said, it’s time to turn to our next Forward Thinking prompt.

This month I want to do something a little bit different. For this prompt, I want you to imagine that politics is no obstacle, and then explain how you would build our nation’s social safety net if you could start from scratch. (To give you some idea of where to go with this, our current social safety net comprises everything from Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare to welfare, unemployment, and food stamps to housing assistance, Head Start, and child tax credits.). I could ask you what you think is the purpose of a nation’s social safety net, or what duty we as citizens have to the other citizens of our nation, or what all you think should be the social safety net set up by the government and what should be in private hands, but I think this will be more interesting. I also want to avoid the perennial argument between conservatives and liberals about whether our welfare system enables people to be lazy or helps people out of poverty. Your beliefs about this should guide your answer. In answering this question, don’t assume that you are creating a social safety net for some ideal country. You’re creating it for our country as it is now, problems and all . (For those of you outside of the U.S., you can choose whether to answer this prompt for the U.S. or for your country.) Here is the prompt, put most simply:

If you were dictator-for-life, how would you design our social safety net, starting from scratch?

I want to invite readers to discuss this question in the comment section and to invite bloggers to respond on their own blogs. At the end of two weeks I will post a round-up of links and excerpts to both blog posts elsewhere and especially insightful comments here. Bloggers should email their links to lovejoyfeminism (at) gmail (dot) com with “Forward Thinking” in the subject line if they want to be included in the round-up.

Happy thinking and discussing!


Forward Thinking: A Values Development Project is an invitation to both readers and fellow bloggers to participate in forming positive values and grappling with thorny questions. Click here to read the project introduction.


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