Virginia’s elected Republican representatives have one thing going for them, predictability. When the economic times get tough, social service programs are never too far from the Republican chopping block.
Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large), chairman of Prince William Board of County Supervisors, outlined $9.6 million in possible cuts in a letter to fellow supervisors. If enacted, funds for the Prince William County health department, substance abuse treatment for jail inmates, and the Juvenile Court Services Unit, among other services, would be cut.
As a rationale for these proposed cuts, Stewart said in his letter that “uncertainty created…at the federal and state levels,” including cuts in spending for defense and tax increases, highlights the need to “rein in” the county’s budget.
Not surprisingly, Stewart stated that his “initial instinct is skepticism about social government.” Of course, because if I don’t need social service programs, no one else should, right?
The mindset shared by Stewart is as mind-boggling as it is ensconced in ideological narrow-mindedness.
First of all, social service programs do not necessarily lead to dependency on the part of those they serve. Further, social service programs are not “socialistic,” they are filling the gaps left behind by the break of America’s communities by the very system which Stewart and company so blindly extol.
Secondly, many social service programs are a positive factor in Virginian society, helping individuals overcome problems that might otherwise go unresolved (e.g., drug use among inmates). But individuals like Stewart would no doubt argue that social service programs like the one mentioned directly above only provide incentives for individuals to not take individual initiative, to not try to help themselves.
The free-market idea prevalent in our society is convenient for individuals who are already in privileged socio-economic positions. For those who are not (e.g. minorities, immigrants, etc), the pull away from social service programs and towards a more “let do” philosophy of economic practice is a harbinger of further hardship.
Of course, social service programs assist all sectors of society. But it is no surprise that white America has consistently been calling for removing government involvement in almost all areas of life.
That said, rolling back social service programs is not a permanent solution to the country’s economic woes. Instead, public officials like Steward are using the uncertainly in D.C. as a whipping horse to push through their ideological desires. But Virginia shouldn’t buy it.