Getty Images For the historically minded, the political battles of the last few years may have induced an especially vertiginous bout of deja vu. After all, many of the big debates currently roiling our government — including those over the minimum wage, health care, college tuition and unemployment — are nothing new. For decades, politicians and pundits have hashed over these topics, arguing over the appropriate breadth and depth of America’s social safety net.
On Salon, Paul Buchheit offers an interesting rundown of government policies that hurt children, students, the elderly, wage earners, women, minorities, the sick and disabled, and the homeless — a collection of constituencies that Buchheit calls “the eight biggest victims of America’s predatory capitalism.” Very succinctly, but with a great deal of solid evidence, he lays out his argument that, over the past few decades, the United States has de-invested from these groups … with appalling results.
There’s a lot of room to disagree with Buchheit. Among other things, his categories have a great deal of overlap, and one could argue that he cherry-picks a great deal of his evidence. On the other hand, it’s also hard to ignore America’s recent attempts to balance the budget by slashing holes in the social safety net. Buchheit’s article is a reminder that governmental “savings” rarely come without a cost — and that the ones left holding the bill are often the people who have the most to lose.