What are two different perspectives on social welfare?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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People of different political points of view tend to have different perspectives on social welfare.  In general, conservatives are much more skeptical of social welfare programs than liberals are. 

In the United States, the conservative view of social welfare is rather more dominant than it is in places like many European countries.  This is why the US does not provide a very strong system of social welfare.  Conservatives tend to believe in traditional values and in the idea that government intervention into the economy is harmful.  They believe that traditional values favor self-sufficiency and hard work.  They believe that social welfare programs tend to erode these values.  In this view, social welfare programs reduce people’s incentives to work.  When this happens, society erodes both economically and morally.  For these reasons, conservatives generally want very little in the way of social welfare programs.

By contrast, liberals tend to believe that there is a greater need for social welfare programs. They tend to believe that everyone (or almost everyone) is willing work to support themselves.  They believe that people become poor because they are placed in circumstances that make it hard for them to get ahead.  Liberals also tend to believe that society has a responsibility to help these people.  They feel that it is wrong to have poor people in a rich society.  For these reasons, they want to have strong social welfare systems that will help people who fall into poverty.

Thus, there are two very different perspectives on social welfare.  These perspectives are largely based on the political ideologies of the people who hold them.

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