Some liberals might imagine the following when dealing when issues relating money transfer from the rich to the poor. They might imagine that a rich, spoiled-brat who's never worked a day in his life, who got his money from his rich parents being taxes so that his money will go to a poor, hardworking, studious, and (insert more positive characteristics here) child so that he can attend school and have the basic necessities of life such as food and medical care. Fiscal conservatives, on the other hand, view the situation much differently. They see a educated, rags-to-riches kind of businessman, who is taxed unnecessarily so that his money can go to some pathetic, lazy bum who runs off and goes to buy liquor as soon as he cashes his check. This view wasn't always so popular among conservatives, as Robert Reich explains in his book Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America . He discusses how the new stereotype of the recipient changed the feeling among many Americans for these social programs.
Still, these programs marked a whole new way of thinking about the role of government, and they were enormously popular.
They were created for Americans as a system of insurance, not welfare. The basic idea was that we are all in the same boat together. Misfortune can happpen to anyone. The result was a giant sytem of retribution-mostly from young to old, but also from healthy to sick, employed to unemployed, people who didn't suffer a natural disaster to people who did. But it didn't feel like redistribution because the money didn't go from "us" to "them". It went from us to us.
Over time, though, some programs became less popular because their beneficiaries started to look and seem different from the rest of us. One such program was part of the original Social Securities Act, designed to help mothers whose husbands or partners died or abandoned them. Increasingly, the women who collected what came to be known as welfare checks were black or brown. "Why should my hard-earned tax dollars go to them?" became a common refrain among white working- and middle-class households.
The thing is, if the first stereotype was the true one, then sure, let's rob the rich and give it all to the poor. If the second stereotype is true, then let the lazy bums fend for themselves. But the key thing is that the truth is actually a combination of these two cases. Some recipients of proposed social programs might be lazy, but some might just need a helping hand to get back on their feet. Some of the rich may have worked damn hard for their money, and then some might have just inherited it and have never worked a job in their life.Since it is a combination of these stereotypes which is actually the truth, it is important to have a compromise between liberalism and fiscal conservatism. It's important to realize that some poor people want to make their life and their childrens' lives better, if only they had the money to go to school and put food on the table. However, you can't just blindly throw money at the problem, and it's important to make sure that the recipients are using the help so that they can soon help themselves, not to make them dependent on the aid.
I believe most liberals have already realized this to be the case. I welcome the libertarians and other fiscal conservatives to join us, so that we can fight the groups who are threatening the core of what makes America great.