16 Aug 2006
I believe there is also a second consideration: the unwillingness to foster an attitude of entitlement among citizens, causing the government budget to be pre-committed to various social programmes leaving the decision makers limited room to invest in future economic development initiatives. In other words, the anti-welfare policy goes hand in hand with the wide control of the government over the national economy, rather than being paradoxial "why a rich government cannot give more".
I have no wish to start an ideological debate on this issue here, but would like to make a couple of points of a pragmatic nature.
First, we now live in a world where divorce rates are much higher than they used to be. A typical situation is that the husband gets involved with a younger woman, possibly starting a new family, leaving the wife to cope on her own with the earlier children. While in most cases the divorced wife and her children would have sufficient access to financial resources, such as the wife's own salary, division of family assets, and assistance from grandparents and other relatives, to provide for their own needs, a significant portion of such single mother families are badly off, and this number can be expected to keep increasing. Providing adequate financial resources in such situations not only alleviates current sufferings, but also generates future social benefits in giving the children a better chance to be educated and to develop normally.
Second, a social safety net makes it less likely that temporary economic setbacks, such as loss of job or major sickness, would lead to long term adversities putting people into desperate frames of mind. People would be less likely to go to loan sharks or engage in minor fund misappropriations, activities that have a tendency to snowball into more serious crimes in time. A small amount of assistance at appropriate moments can have very significant long term benefits by preventing small misfortunes from turning into major ones.
Posted by yuen at 8/16/2006 01:54:00 pm