Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Who is undeserving? Of what?

I was sorting through some computer files and came across the following. Unfotunately, I cannot give you a source. It's a comment by someone named Becky and I didn't save a link to the original article so I've no idea where I found it. It's very good though and I hope you'll read it:

I’m British - by the definitions of many Americans I basically live in a ‘socialist state’ I suppose, although I wouldn’t say that myself.

I am a well-educated professional, with two degrees. I have never been out of work or drawn welfare benefits. I have earned every penny I ever had. So far so good.

But what I didn’t earn is the benefits of a family with a strong work ethic, who taught me personal responsibility, who supported me through my education, who showed an example by always working themselves. I didn’t earn being born middle class, which has given me huge advantages in my life.

It’s a fallacy to claim that those who are rich have ‘earned’ their money, implying that those who are poor have only themselves to blame and are basically lazy. There is no such thing as a total meritocracy. And even if there was, who is to say that those who aren’t as intelligent, or gifted deserve less if they are prepared to work? Many people, like my grandparents, work hard all of their lives, doing long hours in tiring manual jobs, and never earn a good salary. In what way are those people undeserving? Why should I have better healthcare than them? Or a better chance at education? My grand parents never saw the fruits of their labour in their lifetimes. But they did manage to provide a better chance for their children, which in turn provided a better chance for me. The dream cannot be fulfilled in one generation. I did not ‘earn’ my status alone - my grandparents must take much of the credit.

If your parents were wealthy enough to send you to an Ivy league college, and you had the right connections to help you into a fabulous job, you should thank your lucky stars, and be prepared to pass a little of your good fortune on to those who weren’t born into such fortunate circumstances as yourself, instead of guarding jealously what you supposedly earned.

We really need to think about this as we take benefit after benefit away from not only the poor but the middle class.

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