When debating social issues, like the question whether the state should engage in any kind of wealth redistribution in favor of the poor, there seem to be two very opposite camps: One side is strictly against wealth redistribution by taxation, they emphasize personal responsibility of the individual and they would rather have the choice to stay out of any social responsibility, even if that means they may end at the losing end (due to unemployment, poverty and so on). That's the price they are willing to pay for their idea of "freedom". The other side emphasizes that poverty is a challenge for the entire society, and they advocate welfare programs, or redistribution of tax money in favor of the poor by the state. It seems they are convinced that most of the time, poverty is not the result of bad decisions or laziness, but those who are poor just had bad luck, or should at least not pay so much for mistakes. I wonder, on which side do you fall, and why? Please explain your opinion. Did you make experiences which convinced you most of the poor are poor because of their own mistakes? Or did you experience the opposite, maybe even yourself, that despite hard work and taking all chances offered, you still ended up losing? My personal opinion is leaning towards the second side, the side which considers poverty a result of bad luck. But of course not in all cases. I am in favor of social safety nets in favor of the unfortunate and unlucky, but at the same time, I believe abuse of public money should be minimized, and those who receive handouts should be asked something in return: For example, I believe it's just fair when unemployed receiving unemployment support are required to look for new jobs. When they can prove they have applied for several jobs, but were always rejected, they deserve support. It should be made sure those who get handouts and support really deserve it, that they are not just lazy. At any rate, I cannot believe poverty is the result of laziness most of the time. The current financial crisis and the resulting recession should have made this clear: Unemployment in the US has risen to 9%, and I am sure everybody can agree that all these unemployed cannot be blamed for the financial crisis, right? At the same time, many of the actors in the financial sector, who gambled away money into bubbles and who almost caused a nuclear meltdown of world economy, hardly are being held responsible. Some are fired, yet they get immense sums of gratuities. That doesn't strike me as fair. And as far as I am concerned, the question of public social security nets is also a matter of the kind of society the individual wants to live in: There are "gamblers" and "conservatives" (I don't mean conservatives in the political sense, but I mean people who prefer stability and security over risk): I am a "conservative". For me, social safety is a matter of security: I can always have bad luck in life. I can lose my job and not find a new one immediately, which is not my fault, but which yet is a financial risk for my life. Or I can get an expensive illness, or a handicap due to an accident, which would keep me from working in my job, or working at all -- which again must not necessarily be my fault, yet it poses a severe financial risk for my life. That is why I am in favor of social safety nets: In times when I do well, I pay part of my money to help those who have bad luck in the moment. And the moment I have bad luck, those who do well support me in exchange. That strikes me as a system that protects against risks in life, and I have no problem paying my share of taxes, because I know the moment I have bad luck, this money will pay off for me. For this safety, I take voluntarily into account that my gains and wins are not that high, while I am lucky and do well. But other people are "gamblers". They take higher risks into account: The risk of falling very deep once they have bad luck -- but in exchange, they have higher gains and wins when they do well. I think both preferred models of society have their pros and cons, and in the end, it's just the question what type of person you are: Rather take high risks, for the sake of high gains, but running the risk of falling deep? Or do you rather play it safe and give part of your gains when you are lucky, in exchange for the protection from falling too deep in case of bad luck? I'm interested in your thoughts! ------ P.S.: If you disagree support or refusal of social safety nets have nothing to do with your view on poverty, or whether you are a "conservative" or "gambler", please explain that too. I'm curious!