Humans are social animals. We’re not meant to live in isolation, and there are countless studies showing exactly that.
Furthermore, humans aren’t “flock” or “herd” type social animals, they are “pack” or “troop” type social animals.
What does this mean?
Well, simply put, it means that humans are meant to live together in groups for mutual benefit through diversified behavior. Humans are meant to work together to do big tasks (hunt bison, raise barns, fight wildfires) and humans are designed to subsidize the survival of vulnerable individuals (babies, elders, the sick) through cost-sharing between resilient individuals.
These are not my opinions, this is biological fact.
So when, for example, Mitt Romney declares that 47% of Americans are “takers” and that this somehow represents an unfair burden on the remaining 53%, when red-state governments propose work requirements for free and reduced school lunch benefits, when Trump implies that the Indian Health Service is a raw deal for the US government because it’s providing benefits for “free,” these sentiments fly in the face of what it is to be human.
The social contract between a society and its members promises that people will be better off for their participation in the group. Which means, at a baseline, that the very poorest, least-enfranchised members of this society should have better access to the necessities of life through social welfare than they could reasonably expect from relying entirely on their own efforts in isolation.
Therefore, for the modern US, social welfare for those at the bottom of the heap should reliably keep them alive– fed, watered, breathing, sheltered, safe.
Which means, yes, people are entitled to food.
And drinkable water.
And clean air.
And adequate shelter.
That’s the minimum a society can provide in exchange for the strictures it places on human behavior. If that standard isn’t being met, there’s no onus upon the disenfranchised to follow society’s rules.
What the government is getting in exchange for KEEPING PEOPLE ALIVE is the right to exist and promulgate rules. What the rich are getting in exchange for the portion of their wealth that is redistributed to the poor is a workforce of valets and baristas and cannery employees who won’t rob and murder them out of desperation. What the healthy, the strong, the intelligent, the fit, the skilled get in exchange for working to support the sick, the weak, the ignorant, the unfit, the unskilled is security.
To put it another way: no justice, no peace.
(And that’s completely aside from the moral argument, because (and I wish this still went without saying) it is reprehensible to allow people to starve while those who are fed destroy their excess food. If you have more than enough of something, and someone else needs some to live, you share your surplus with them freely. It’s what Jesus would do. Heck, Jesus was famous for sharing what he had with others when he didn’t have enough for just himself.)
So, to review: are people entitled to food? YES. Is water a human right? YES. Are we entitled to clean air to breathe? YES. Are we entitled to adequate shelter? YES. Do we deserve to be safe? YES.
Do they owe us a living?
One more time, for those in the back:
Do they owe us a living? Of course they fucking do.