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Capitalism 2.0: Welfare

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 22nd 2009

While I do not believe in a welfare state, I do think the welfare has a role to play in Capitalism 2.0. I have always felt that welfare should be the absolute last resort, and still stand by that point of view. Nonetheless, that last resort is a necessary piece of a sustainable system.

Think about all the homeless people. There are an estimated $100 million homeless people in the world. In the US, approximately 20-25% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness.

Let’s focus on this category, in particular. The US has created absolutely brain dead laws giving these people full “adult” rights. In other words, no one can force them to take medication, or seek help. They are mentally ill, for god’s sake. They cannot judge what’s best for them.

As a result, many end up on the streets, incapable of holding jobs, unable to stay in a family setting because their families cannot cope with their conditions, and cannot get them to access the right treatment.

There is pretty much no solution for this segment other than welfare. A legislation change may also help, empowering families to do more for their loved ones. But for those who are already on the streets, there is no solution but welfare or altruism.

Last night, we saw a really powerful film called The Pursuit of Happyness. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s based on the true story of Chris Gardner, who pulled himself and his son out of dire poverty, and availing of the Glide Memorial homeless shelter, while doing his internship at Dean Witter, finally getting himself a job in the firm’s wealth management practice. Gardner eventually went on to start his own successful wealth management firm.

But had it not been for Glide Memorial, this story would not have been possible.

This segment is a part in the series : Capitalism 2.0

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In the current business climate and economy downturn I am so glad to hear support for those who need it whether it is a need for complete support or for many, a jump start. I’ve worked with many people who were unemployed, underemployed, and sometimes homeless. There are so many people who want a chance, a second chance or a third to make a lifestyle change and provide for themselves and their families. There is very little forgiveness in our culture.

On the other hand from the most individualistic or selfish perspective, it costs more money to put the poor in jail, as so often happens, than to help them help themselves. I am working with unemployed women to help them grow a plot in the community garden. They are thrilled at the opportunity to grow their own food to help provide food for themselves and their families. There are things we can do to provide for those who cannot help themselves and also help those like Chris Gardner who just needed a chance.

Nancy Miller Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 5:27 PM PT