Cartoon by Jeff Stahler of The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio published on 14 May 2009.
In this cartoon, the cartoonist criticizes the social safety net in the United States.
A social safety net is a term used to describe the a collection of services provided by the state or other institutions such as welfare (assistance sociale), unemployment benefits, universal healthcare and homeless shelters (Wikipedia).
A safety net refers to any plan or system that is designed to protect people or prevent serious problems. For example, there are protections in the form of government provided depositor’s insurance that protects accounts up to a certain amount if the bank and/or banking system fail. This is a type of safety net.
A good retirement program to provide for your retirement years is considered a safety net.
The money you save in a bank account is a safety net for unexpected expenses such as car repairs.