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Is welfare accountability really libertarianism on overdrive?

Mark Shea is a popular Catholic writer who is not afraid to verbally knock heads together when he sees something he doesn't like. He really dislikes anything that hints of libertarianism. Over at the National Catholic Register he is busy chastising "many prolife people" because they don't want to write a blank check for state assistance to single mothers. His specific quote is "It is indeed a curious disconnect that many prolife people who support the work of Crisis Pregnancy Centers have a strange blind spot when it comes to the state providing help for low-income women in crisis pregnancies."

First of all, I am not sure who these prolifers are. Are they acquaintances of his? Are they blog commenters? How does he know that there are many of them? Has he taken a poll? Is many the same as most?  Shea does not cite one specific example of pro-lifers who work at crisis pregnancy centers objecting to state help for low-income women. He only offers rumors and innuendoes and with one blog post he has tarnished the image of all those who faithfully help women in crisis pregnancies. This broad brush labeling of people is sloppy and a good way to demonize those who might disagree with him on state welfare programs without actually taking on the specific arguments.

Shea compares Al Gore's call for fertility management to prevent increases in the population of developing countries as a way of combatting global warming and promoting economic development to Rand Paul suggesting that the government could put a cap on welfare benefits. Gore is endorsing the strategy of the Gates Foundation and their promotion of contraceptives like Depo-Provera to limit large segments of the world population from reproducing. Paul is not suggesting that the government impose limits on reproduction. He is just saying that the government is not necessarily compelled to pay benefits on a per child basis. Equating these two stances is building a strawman argument and is not justified by facts.

Shea also suggests that there is something hypocritical about those who give generously at prolife  crisis pregnancy centers yet balk at liberal welfare benefits: "Of course, the objection is that this[unlimited welfare benefits] (though, curiously not crisis pregnancy centers, which also give away free stuff to low-income women) is 'enabling' sexual irresponsibility and teaching poor people to game the system." Every time there is any sort of charity, whether it be private or state run, there has to be a balance between eligibility criteria and the liberality of aid. If the screening criteria are too stringent then people who really need help will be excluded. If the criteria are too loose, the program will be abused and limited resources will be wasted.  I do not see why Shea should be surprised that the same people who hand out free stuff willy-nilly at crisis pregnancy centers want more stringent scrutiny of taxpayer supported programs. It is not unreasonable to me that the tolerance for abuse may very well be different when the program is privately funded instead of taxpayer funded.

I resent the insinuation that any attempt at accountability is hard hearted. Whether someone is receiving food from a church food pantry or receiving an EBT card from the state, they should acknowledge that they are subsisting on the beneficence of others and should seek to be good stewards of this generosity. No one should live with food insecurity and the state in collaboration with private entities should make sure that no one goes hungry. People need to be fed without being judged. On the other hand, those receiving aid should not self-righteously proclaim that they are entitled to be supported and any attempt to regulate benefits is evidence of selfishness and greed.


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