Harris Rosen is a real person. He really did give free daycare and college scholarships to all high school graduates in this very poor little neighborhood in Orlando, FL. It is unclear for how long he did this or if he continues to do this now and the graduation rate statistic is suspect, but it’s still truly inspiring. What is interesting is how different people find this inspiring. A conservative friend is the one who posted this on Facebook (Yes this is another Facebook argument. Yes something is wrong with me.). My response was this:
Imagine all the money the government is going to save on welfare. Imagine all the extra money the government is going to make in taxes from the increase in income that comes from going to college. Imagine that instead of one neighborhood winning the rich-guy lottery, we all got together and pooled our resources to make this a reality for all. Imagine if everyone in the U.S. had free daycare and college scholarships. Imagine how much better the U.S. and the world would be as a result.
When talking to conservatives, use conservative talking points. Don’t throw in inflammatory barbs like “Imagine if there were someone running for president right now that has promised to provide these things. Feel the Bern!” Though I was sorely tempted, that’s just poking the bear. His response was:
I get it dude, but forced philanthropy breeds resentment and entitlement. There’s no substitute for a kind heart with a smiling face, proving to a neighborhood that they matter, are not forgotten, and have a gift that requires stewardship.
Which is really along the lines of “That’s all fine and dandy but if you force people to do the things that inspire them they’ll resent you and the people that benefit from it will feel all entitled and stuff.” It’s such a low view of humanity. It’s as if benefits don’t count unless you can put a face to the benefactor. Which is absolutely hilarious when you realize that this seems to be a very popular view in certain Christian circles. Maybe it has something to do with being told from birth that you’re a dirty sinner and undeserving of anything and thus must work hard from conception to get what you want. Try to pinpoint exactly who would be resentful and who would feel entitled and you can’t (You know, people. Not me. Not my friends. Those other people.), which was my next point:
Resentment from whom? Entitlement from whom? Those who would resent this are already resentful. Those who would feel entitled already feel entitled. I think most would feel grateful. Most would feel empowered. Everybody would win; the resentful, the entitled, the rich, the poor. If you’re the one who would feel resentful, fine, conversation over, but if you wouldn’t feel resentful, you are much closer to those that are resentful than I. Change minds. Change spirits.
He “liked” this which is basically a polite way of ending the conversation, but then someone else posted something that I think gets to the heart of why conservatives don’t quite get what the stakes really are even though they should be blindingly obvious:
Let me empty your bank account to pay for my sister’s medical bills and we’ll see who’s resentful.
If you legislate charity, it becomes theft. If you force someone to give..it’s not giving. And if you didn’t make the money, it’s not yours to give.
I’d like a great many things, doesn’t mean I should get them. And just because someone is in unfortunate circumstances, doesn’t mean they should have someone else solve their problems.
I wanted to concentrate on the first sentence only because the rest is just boilerplate libertarian nonsense that people reflexively repeat. The last sentence is also worth commenting on briefly, though. This person is obviously Christian and obviously cares about certain things. These things even correlate very closely with the goal of providing basic childcare to all children. But she wants to decide exactly whom to help. She wants to be able to pick a winner and loser. Take that agency away from her and you suddenly go from an obvious good to grounds for rebellion. But back to the first sentence:
Um, I am a perfectly healthy male with insurance. I DO pay for your sister’s and hundreds of thousands of other people’s medical bills. Probably not your sister specifically since we are almost assuredly on different health plans, but you get the idea. Plus, we’re kind of switching subjects from education to healthcare, but the whole point of pooling resources is so that any individual DOESN’T get their bank accounts emptied. That was the biggest problem with insurance pre-Obamacare. Have a preexisting condition and you’re uninsurable and you either find a way to pay for your condition or find a magical benefactor or you die. I gladly pay property taxes for the education of children that I won’t have because a better education for all makes us all better. I would gladly pay more in taxes to provide daycare for all because well taken care of children make better prepared children makes us all better. I would gladly pay more in taxes to provide a college scholarship for those that graduate highschool because smarter people get higher paying jobs which allows them to buy more things and provide more things which makes us all better.
I don’t want to live in a world which depends on a magical benefactor who sweeps down on a vanishingly small subset of humanity to provide for a basic need like a child’s education. I want to live in a world where we all recognize that childcare and education are a fundamental necessity for children who had zero choice in to whom they were born and where they were raised. I want us to recognize that this benefits not just the children but all of us. I want to live in a world where the popular belief of “I suffered and so should you” is replaced with “we suffered now let’s try to make things a little better for you”. I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper. My brother is not just Tangelo Park. My sister is not just Orlando, FL. My brother, my sister is the United States of America. Harris Rosen has proven how beneficial childcare is to primary education on a small scale. Let’s make it nationwide and reap the whirlwind of benefits together. No child is not deserving.
It’s a little speechy (I sometimes get like that when I write), but I believe it hammers home my point. We’re all in this together. Not a single one of us has the wisdom to decide who is deserving and who is not. This is true for every single human being, but especially true for children who should be considered deserving by default. One person proving that providing basic childcare benefits those children immensely is absolutely inspiring. Learning from that and pooling our resources to make it a reality across the entire United States would be awe inspiring.