It’s a small thing, perhaps, but indicative of the wrong attitude held by supporters of big, nanny government, that Alisha Pina, of the Providence Journal, used the word that I’ve italicized in the following quotation in her article today, about a conference at which Rhode Island’s Department of Human Services touted its efforts to make it easier to hand out taxpayer money:
The department plans to roll out the changes in its five other offices over the next few months.
A new customer-focused system, says Powell, will also debut in September. Applicants will then have a unique PIN and password with which to look at their benefits information and change phone numbers or addresses without having to contact a caseworker.
There are 176,146 individuals getting SNAP assistance and 13,586 residents getting cash assistance — previously referred to as welfare — from the state as of July, said Michael Jolin, Department of Human Services spokesman.
A quick check of Merriam-Webster confirms that the word, “customer,” means “one that purchases a commodity or service.” Beneficiaries of government hand-outs are not purchasing anything in that transaction. If anybody is a “customer” of this system, it’s the taxpayer who buys his or her way out of personal responsibility for helping people in the community who are facing tough times.
There’s no shame in using what means are available to support one’s family (if that’s the intention), and it’s understandable, at least, that activists in this day and age would find it appropriate to confiscate money from other people (whose problems they can’t see) in order to give it to people in need (whose problems they can see). Be empathy what it may, however, we shouldn’t lose the distinction between purchasing and collecting.
Unless, that is, the bureaucrats and journalists intend to suggest that the beneficiaries have purchased the hand-outs with their votes.