I ran this in my Livejournal
back in 2003. I think it still holds true today. (FWIW, "Steve" is my husband of over 6 years.)
The New Welfare State
Steve and I got to talking about the various small injustices that piss us both off. Steve noted that there is now a "New Welfare State" in which small groups of people are victims of a "Tag! You're IT!" government or social policy. Some examples are:
Landlords are forced by non-discrimination laws to rent to people who are offered free legal protection/help from tenant unions once they stop paying rent. Cities don't want to provide quality low-income housing, but they structure their laws such that private landlords are forced to give free housing to deadbeat tenants. Sometimes these landlords end up losing their property entirely as a result of prolonged resistance to evictions.
Cab drivers are harrassed by the city for not driving in "underserved" communities despite the fact that cabbies don't "serve" those communities because doing so is both unprofitable and dangerous. These same cities cut public transportation services to and within these communities, and yet expect cab drivers (themselves usually poor) to compromise their own finances and safety to go where city busses and trains won't.
Parents of disabled children who are told that they are obligated to care for their own children in their own homes and that institutionalization is "unacceptable". Never mind that these parents frequently lack the financial, personal, and emotional resources to care for seriously disturbed or disabled children. Naturally, if something bad should happen to a disabled person who, say, has been restrained and dies in a housefire, it is entirely the beleagured family's fault.
Small towns are suddenly overwhelmed with a stream of new immigrants (oftentimes refugees from persecution and terror) are accused of being "racist" if they dare suggest that future immigrants find themselves another town to live in. Never mind that the needs of long-time citizens are being compromised and social services are being strained to their limits.
School districts are informed that a new school/community/group home for severely disabled children is being built in their area. The schools are required by federal law to accomodate the needs of 10, 20, 30, or more disabled students, even if their budget is already severely strained. When parents, teachers, and administrators protest, they are regarded as heartless bigots who hate the disabled.
Areas like Chicago's Uptown find themselves overwhelmed with the homeless, the drug addicted, and the mentally ill because the local alderman is the only alderman who won't oppose shelters, charities, and treatment programs in her ward. Meanwhile, the local park is now a urine-soaked, needle ridden, tent-city, street crime is common, and many citizens are afraid to walk around at night. Other city wards don't assume their fair share of the social-service provider "burden", and so Uptown (and areas like it) continue to have to manage as best they can under that burden.
In many of these cases, the "victims" are just normal, everyday people who were minding their own business until the state and/or special advocacy groups decided to dump a "problem" on them. These victims are then held responsible when they are unable to assume a responsibility that they never asked for, and really couldn't be expected to fulfill.
If we are going to have a "welfare state", let's be a little more honest about it and spread about the burden a little more fairly.