Mike Fernald in an article published in Blue Hampshire gives us a historical account of the safety net that is threatened by NH House and Senate Republican-Libertarians. If you follow New Hampshire politics you will recall the strong reaction to the Bishop McCormack’s speech at the March 31 rally in Concord where he accused the House of failing to live up to their obligations to protect the poor and vulnerable. We do well to remind everyone that this view of “liberty= no taxes, no government” is not part of our tradition.
…… A common practice was to put care for the poor out to bid. The farmer who was willing to board the poor for the lowest cost per day was awarded the contract. This may sound harsh, but life in New Hampshire in the 1700’s was barely above subsistence, particularly in the rural areas. Caring for the destitute often meant lifting them up only to the level of subsistence.
Over time, ‘selling the poor to the lowest bidder’ gave way to town farms, which gave way to county farms. Today, county farms have been replaced by state programs to serve our neediest citizens: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Aid to the Totally and Permanently Disabled, Aid to the Blind, and others.
“Welfare” is not something invented during the New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt or the Great Society of President of Johnson; it is older than the 13 colonies. New Hampshire is a community which has always been committed to caring for the needy. Our state’s social programs are not creeping socialism, or any other “ism;” they are a part of a centuries-old New Hampshire tradition.