An alternative term for a social security system. The safety net bit comes in when people "drop" from their current positions (getting fired, accident, etc.). Something may catch them, and that is the social safety net. It catches people who fell from grace and helps them get back to where they were before.

Here is a good way to depict the position of the social safety net (the HTML formatting might screw up, try full display):

 o
/|\
/ \
_____      Edge of the cliff of economic despair (give up hope all ye who step off!)
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           |   Full safety net, seen in countries such as Denmark, Sweden
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           |   Fairly secure safety net, such as Canada, Britain, Democrat dream
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           |   Republican dream, China, former USSR
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           |   Bare minimal safety net, exists in poorer countries such as Mexico, Indonesia, and Thailand
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           |   /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\
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           |   The spiky bottom: No social security, seen in Third World countries, war zones, etc.

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