Progressive Revival

NPR’s Market Place host Kai Ryssdal interviewed Nobel Prize-winning economist and Harvard professor Amartya Sen last night.  Prof Sen made this important point:


Uncertainties affect different people very differently. People who are already vulnerable are affected dramatically more than others. The vulnerable part of the society who often don’t get the attention…(people are more) vulnerable depending on which country you are in. If you are looking at the United States, environment is a very big factor. More than in Europe, for example, where if you are unemployed you have a longer unemployment insurance, you have health insurance which covers you. Now, if it is the case, as is indeed the case in this country, that you don’t have automatic health insurance, and that unemployment benefit could easily run out, that would certainly be a source of great vulnerability.

In the face of today’s unemployment figures (CNN’s headline screams: “November: Most jobs lost in 34 years. Payrolls shrink by 533,000, bringing 11-month decline to 1.9 million. Unemployment soars to 6.7%) Americans have to recognize that our country is currently heavily weighed against those who are already the most vulnerable.
As the counter example of Europe shows us, our policies that doubly penalize the unemployed are not inevitable but rather a political reflection of our national values 


What political response will religious people provide?  In providing the moral compass for our government, what role will we play in making sure that those who lose the dignity of work are not doubly hit by losing heath care and impossibly short unemployment benefits?  Will we speak up for the most vulnerable of our society?

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