somebody I was reading was frustrated about an acquaintance's (bad) decision to pursue music while on welfare.
I was thinking about that, and I realized I feel like welfare -- the freedom not-to-starve -- is something we ought to provide as an absolute like freedom of speech.
I wrote (with some modifications to protect the innocent):
I feel like being angry because welfare recipients don't act like we want them to is a little bit paternalistic, isn't it?
But who are we to say? I like to think of welfare as protecting all of us from crushing poverty and destitution, regardless of our misapprehensions about our futures, in the same way as the first amendment protects all of us from censorship, regardless of our idiot opinions. I think the Lyndon LaRouche cultists out on the quad are goofy when they're not insidious, but I also respect their right to speak.
To me, welfare is (or should be) like a different part of the social contract: everybody eats, even if they're totally silly about how they're spending their lives. But accepting that contract means -- to me -- that we don't take that away from "undeserving" people, because deciding who's "deserving" is like deciding whose speech is worthy of public display.
I am not saying that [the guy is] making good decisions. (I don't know him; he might be the next big thing for all I know, or he could be the worst kind of lamer.) I'm saying we ought to be pround of the fact that we, as a nation and a community, support people, even in the face of their own bad judgment.