“The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
— Hubert H. Humphrey
I’ve been hearing that Humphrey quote since I became a political activist, always from liberals who insist there must be higher taxes or the government will just have to keep wasting money on increasing the power and privilege of the ruling government class, instead of passing the moral test.
Let me rephrase. The competence test of government is how that government manages not to completely screw up services to those in the dawn of life and the twilight of life, along with everybody else, especially the sick.
The most recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ranks Massachusetts one of the worst in the nation for children’s welfare (despite a tax burden that is one of the highest in the nation). Taking care of children born into bad home environments is a problem in all states, with the hard choices of letting them take their chances with neglectful or abusive parents or placing them in foster care that has its own risks. But Massachusetts has a history of getting it wrong, over and over.
One of the reasons is a welfare system with high incentive to have children that will need government intervention in their lives because the parents are irresponsible from the beginning: unknown/absentee fathers, mothers using drugs and/or alcohol while pregnant and afterward. What is society to do? Government taking children from their mothers is scary power; finding good foster homes becomes essential, and in Massachusetts, some of the foster parents have themselves been abused by the system, receiving little backup for the good that they do.