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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mark Shea, Call Your Office!

Yesterday, Mark Shea saw something that the OK GOP posted, that a sign in a zoo said, "Please don't feed the animals. They will become dependent on handouts, and not learn to feed themselves." Shea tends to get emotional, so his response was, "The OK GOP thinks poor people are animals!" Um, no.

It's an a fortiori argument, essentially: "If dependency is beneath the dignity of an animal, how much more is it beneath the dignity of a person!" A few thoughts, of course:

Dependency has been a theme of GOP criticism of welfare for 60 years, give or take, so if I at all want to listen sympathetically, I keep this in mind. Moreover, I don't have a duty to find merit in the argument, in order to understand it, to read with charity. In case anybody cares, I don't find the "dependency" argument compelling, broadly speaking, with respect to food stamps and such, because what we are spending are drops in buckets compared to the depth of the need. Markets disconnected from our main means of social support (families and communities) won't save us, either. The liberal critiques of neoliberalism are pretty much on-target there, but their solution(s) generally substitute the federal government for family and community. Progressives don't seem to mind markets and individualism when it gets them what they want. I digress.

Mark took the post down, probably because somebody a little more Republican told him he was being unfair. I like his above-the-frayness most times. I think generally it puts him (and all of us) in a better position to receive the social doctrine as doctrine, and then to think through policy after that. But maybe he's received so many absurd responses from Republicans who happen to be Catholic (note the order there) that he's lost the skill of seeing them as my people, as it were. Maybe I don't need to point it out, but it bothered me.

Let's not push so hard not to be "captured" that we can't hear anymore. We still might find that we can't agree with something, but I'm not going to assume the worst. Easier for one's own "tribe" than for the other, but a worthy discipline, nonetheless.

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