People’s views on social programs are directly affected by moral separation.
Because we live in a society with a high degree of moral separation, there are many people who believe that food stamps, for example, are a bad thing.
There are two arguments I’ve heard repeated, “food stamp recipients should go out and work hard so they don’t have to rely on the charity of others” and, “food stamps are a waste of tax dollars.” Libertarians might even go so far as to say that people should rely on individual compassion and charity rather than a government program. That last one is really a nice sentiment if you’ve never had to rely on individual compassion or charity.
If you read this blog, I probably don’t need to even tell you that the reason these arguments don’t work is because they don’t recognize systemic barriers. They end up reinforcing the status quo by privileging the historically privileged and showing no compassion toward those who struggle.
But they are also aloof to moral separation. When the kinds of people who have time to sit around and talk about whether or not to cut federal assistance programs present their arguments, they are presenting abstractions. They talk about the role of the federal government. They talk about hard work and the American Dream. They talk about taxes.
They do not talk about people.
So not only does moral separation allow the persistence of such a ridiculous notion as there might be a reason why we shouldn’t help each other out when it’s fairly easy to do so, but it also anchors the entire argument in the realm of abstraction. And so long as we deal in abstractions, our discussions about right and wrong will not be informed by the tangible impact we can have on people’s lives, but, rather, they will be informed by ideology.