I agree with the newspaper’s Nov. 22 editorial, “We need to do more to fight poverty, not less.”

The problem of poverty is too big to be solved by charitable works alone. Indeed, charity doesn’t even come close.

More than charity, the tens of millions of people who lose in this economy (and lose they do, for poverty is as persistent a feature of capitalism as profits) need our solidarity, a mutual guarantee that no one will be left on their own when they need assistance.

The editorial said, “It is the government’s job to care for people in poverty.” I concur.

But that is just another way of saying that it is our collective responsibility to stand in solidarity with our fellow citizens. We are a nation. Too often, however, we are together alone.

It’s the nature of our system, of our political economy, to continually reproduce groups with conflicting interests. We often disagree and that is as it will be, given the set of relationships our system demands.

We do well, however, when we compromise on some things.

We realized our greatest economic strength when we were able to reach a workable agreement that included the construction of a rational social safety net.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare assistance and a progressive tax structure did a very good job at alleviating the human misery associated with poverty. What remains of those programs continues to be remarkably successful.

Short of transitioning to a new and better political economy, and constructing a new 21st century social contract, we would do well to preserve and extend the coverage of these time-tested and proven programs.

Christopher McKinnon


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