The Deserving Rich and the Deserving Poor

This time of year, you look twice at the sketchy drug addict blocking the sidewalk in front of Starbucks. You give a second thought to the overly bundled elderly woman waiting in line at the food bank. You wonder what life would be like if that palsied kid in the trailer had medical attention.

Americans are a generous people — so it is always said. But our generosity comes with moral judgments: There’s a thin line, in the minds of many, between the poor who deserve help and those who should get off their butts.

Similarly with the wealthy. Do entitled rich kids who would otherwise be parking cars without Daddy’s help — think Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric — deserve to inherit a vast estate without paying taxes on their unearned largess?

These are old arguments, dating to Dickens’s heartless Ebenezer Scrooge and the noble Cratchit family. But once again, these narratives are at the heart of enormous changes about to take place in how we treat the rich and the poor. The assumptions are fraught with fiction.

Let’s start with the most deserving and least to blame — children. About nine million American kids, in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to afford their own coverage, can now see a doctor under the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Two million of those children have chronic health conditions — epilepsy, asthma and diabetes among the ailments. The program has always had bipartisan support. So why are the working poor now getting notices telling them their kids may soon be cut off?

 – New York Times