"Yes, I make good money, but I work hard for it." People have got to stop saying that as if it explains everything. Lots of people work hard. They just don't get paid well for it. One does not axiomatically lead to the other.
Of course, many people love to believe that they control their own lives completely, and any good thing that happens to them is due to their own innate wonderfulness (l'm looking at you, Ayn Randians). Maybe the one good thing to come out of the current financial mess is that some of them have, at long last, been disabused of this ego-inflating illusion.
Also, it's odd how many conservatives in Congress are admitted Rand fans. They obviously believe they're part of the heroic "producer" class. That's absurd. They're in *conservatives in Congress,* for God's sake.
Btw, this is not to argue that people don't make bad decisions or are not in the least bit responsible for their circumstances. It's just to say that many people make plenty of good choices and still can't afford to live in this expensive world. Also, if we have any pretense of compassion, we need to make *some* allowance for simple human error. (And the "right choices" are not always so obvious when you're young or in the thick of things.) The bottom line is that our society *needs* a safety net, because a) in this imperfect world, the rewards don't always go to the good or follow from good choices (sometimes it seems precisely the opposite); and b) if we have any pretense of honoring the intrinsic worth of human life, it must be regarded as unacceptable for any one of us to go without the fundamentals of life: food, shelter. and medical care.