SQUEEZE Opinion

Speaxout: Poor But Deserving?

Margaret Yarcia

By: Margaret Yarcia | Squeeze | Published August 11, 2017 | Updated December 12, 2017

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Some people are criticizing the free tuition policy in the name of economics, but fail to disclaim that they are drawing arguments from the only school they know: neoliberal economics. Under this paradigm, they have been trained to look at social services as products and at people as consumers, and take on such a distrustful view of their fellow humans, especially the poor.

These are some of the insidious assumptions of the neoliberal mindset: People will abuse the system if we keep giving freebies. We should only provide free education/healthcare to the “poor but deserving.” The implementation of this policy should be based on some conditionalities.

How I wish we could all free our minds of these baseless notions! There should be no such thing as “deserving poor” – every poor person deserves help from what is a rotten system, to begin with. And the universal provision of social services is not just the kind thing to do, it is the correct way to promote growth and social development.

I invite these naysayers to kindly read the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development document entitled Combating Poverty and Inequality, where a global network of researchers pointed out that “neoliberal approaches to social protection fail to deliver on several counts,” that “underfunding and commercialization can have negative consequences for health and education,” and that “a universal approach to the provision of social services is essential to realizing their full potential as a component of transformative social policy.”

Because when we are forming our opinions on such important matters as social development policy, we should be looking at evidence, and not just inflicting our middle class assertions to the world.

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