Originally posted 4.10.2007
Extreme Makeover Home Edition is the show with Ty Pennington, a total wacko who goes around trying to inspire people with his enthusiasm.
Anyway, the premise of the show is this: A) Find family with crappy house, B) Rebuild this family’s house, C) Have lots of quotes from friends and neighbors saying what a good and deserving family it was.
But that’s not why I like the show.
I like the show because of the economic and political statement it makes, which I’m sure is purely accidental, but nonetheless cogent. That statement is this: The Welfare State is unnecessary.
On EMHE, the families in need first send in an embarrassing video of their living conditions. Then a TV crew comes in and films it for itself. The family then talks about how bad off they are and how they cannot make it on their own. The EMHE team picks up the story, and sets about rebuilding a house. The team solicits help from the community, and invariably gets more help than it asked for.
There are two main points here:
1. Neighbors, churches, local businesses all get in on it. And this is the important part. The help is coming from familiar faces, people they’re going to see on a regular basis. It is much more difficult to blow something a friend gave you than something that fell from the cosmos and into your lap.
2. It’s real help. Building someone a house and paying off their mortgage (which happened on the last episode) is a real fix to a real problem, rather than a $1200 check once a month. That’s where community charity (and I’m using that term in the general sense) provides what government welfare never can on an individual basis — the identification of a specific need, and the satisfaction of it.
After that, it’s over. There is no milking the system, no having babies for extra money, no half-hearted job searches. Welfare subsidizes irresponsibility. Community charity does the opposite, and does it efficiently.
Now, if we could just do something about Pennington’s hair.