The Fallacy of Social Safety Nets

Self-described progressives often advocate the creation of, what they call, social safety nets. While their hearts are in the right place their methods suck. Most of us want a mechanism to help those who have fallen on hard times but having the state establish that mechanism is the wrong way to do it, unless your goal is something besides helping those in need. The state has a longrunning war against the homeless. State operated social safety nets are euphemisms for stealing wealth from the people and kicking to the curb those who have nothing for the state to take. Take, for example, the recent decision made by city officials in Columbia, South Carolina:

Last week, city officials in Columbia, South Carolina approved a plan to remove the homeless population of the city from the downtown area as a means of protecting the Columbia’s growing commerce.

The Emergency Homeless Response, headed by Councilman Cameron Runyan (D), was unanimously approved by the Columbia City Council. Under the plan, police will patrol downtown Columbia and remove all homeless individuals from the area. Should they refuse to leave, they will be subject to arrest. A hotline will be set up to aid the process, so that downtown residents can report the presence of homeless individuals to the police. Police will also more strictly enforce Columbia’s “quality of life” policies, which include (among others) bans on public urination and loitering.

As a supplement to the plan, an emergency winter shelter on the outskirts of the city will be opened year-round to accommodate the influx of homeless individuals exiled from the city center. However, as the shelter only has 240 beds, it is unlikely to be able to handle the entire homeless population of Columbia, which numbers around 1,518 people.

As I said in a longer winded post, progressives will never be able to achieve their goals through statism. The state has no interest in helping the poor and downtrodden because they have nothing for the state to take. Instead of helping the homeless city governments have opted for a different plan. That plan is to make the lives of the homeless so miserable that they migrate elsewhere and become another city’s “problem.” If you truly want to help those in need then it’s time to create mutual aid societies. Through voluntary efforts those in need can be helped.