Expanding the Safety Net

Expanding the Safety Net

This topic gets to the heart of a great social divide on how people see our economy. Are we better off when people fend for themselves and create competition or should we design systems that support those amongst us that struggle?

How do we end this old and rehashed debate so that we can come to a healthier consensus and begin the work of co-creating a better society than the one we have now? 

We can rise above this debate by filling in missing information, looking at the problems with the overall framing of the debate and noticing what keeps us from having productive dialogues about this issue.

Typical objections to expanding the safety net look like this:

  • I don’t want to give a larger share of my income to pay for these things
  • People need to take personal responsibility
  • Low tax rates for corporations creates more jobs
  • People want communism and we saw how that worked out

In short, some people frame the debate as Capitalism and Democracy versus Communism or Socialism.

This frame is quite good at getting reactions out of people. When one or more of us are feeling a strong reaction to the topic being discussed it becomes hard to have a nuanced discussion. We move away from facts and ideal outcomes. Our ability to think deeply erodes and we feel pressured to think quickly to counter the other person.

These types of conversations keep us stuck at the status quo. And we have lots of evidence that the status quo is more and more unsustainable.

The US lags behind many other countries on many social safety net policies. Even though other countries have found great success with these policies, the resistance to them is profound. 

We hope that a broad coalition of people will support the legislators and organizations who are experimenting with these concepts.

We believe that when more people do not have to worry about a personal or family economic crisis, this will free them to think more clearly and creatively about their own lives and how they can contribute to the social good.

Some current programs being looked at:

  • Guaranteed Income   
  • Universal Child Care 
  • Healthcare for All
  • Free College Education or Training
  • Paid Parental Leave