It makes a huge difference. Giving money to an alcoholic isn’t the same as giving money to a single mother. Distributing a free school lunch to a middle class child is different than giving one to a child in the ghetto. Who is it we are talking about?
We are turning into the Zax[i]. Those are the Dr. Seuss creatures that stare and holler at each other and never budge. It is exactly how we treat issues of the poor and welfare reform today. One side says people need help and aren’t getting enough. The other side says we spend plenty and are ineffective at fixing the problem. When we argue at that level nothing can get resolved. We must get into the details – the makeup of our programs, who they serve and their effectiveness. We can’t just be progressive or conservative, for big or small government, for more redistribution or against more dependency. Let’s look at the various people in poverty and do some critical thinking. It will require an open heart, honest analysis and tough decisions. Being a Zax is easier, but it won’t help the plight of the poor.
[i] Dr. Suess, The Sneetches and other stories (Random House, 1961). More information here.