The title of Paul Krugman's February 15, 2021 column in The New York Times was "The Plot To Help America's Children." That sounds pretty sinister, doesn't it? Or, sarcastic, maybe? I think maybe "sarcastic," not "sinister," is what Krugman was shooting for. He wound up his column with this statement:
What seems clear is that the real reason many on the right oppose helping children is that they fear that such help might make low-income families less desperate. And the very reason they hate this proposal is the reason the rest of us should love it.
Krugman points out that "Democrats seem ready to enact major economic relief legislation," and that the relief package being discussed will be big, "with a price tag probably close to the Biden administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion." Most of that proposed relief will be temporary, but as Krugman reports, progressives are hoping that the legislation will provide some permanent assistance, too. Specifically, progressives would like to see enhanced aid to families with children enacted on a permanent basis.
That's the "plot to help America's children" that Krugman is talking about. The plot would be to provide permanent assistance to lower-income families with children. Right-wing legislators are claiming that providing such permanent assistance would mean that some adults would choose to work less. Compassion, they say, is "counterproductive."
Krugman doubts that more assistance to families with children would actually result in large numbers of parents choosing to work less. But let's suppose that were true. If it were, the end result would be that such parents would end up spending more time with their children. Given this possibility, and with right-wing legislators forecasting this result, I am reminded of a phrase I have always really loved: "You say that like it's a bad thing!"
Parents spending more time with their children is not a bad thing! To the contrary. In fact, to generalize, compassion is never counterproductive. Compassion reflects the truth of our human situation. We are in this life together, and the more we can help others with their struggles, the better off we all are.
A "Plot To Help America's Children?" I think that is just what we need!
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