Morning Links

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

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90 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Matt | 

    @Pogue

    So, if I can get this straight – a program that forcibly extracts money from poor people and may or may not give it back to them later is “helping” these individuals? Is promising these people financial stability in such a way that you cannot possibly hope to deliver “helping” them? When the house of cards finally collapses and the checks these people rely on don’t come I’m sure your assurances on how excellent your intentions were will placate their fear and anger.

  2. #2 |  PogueMahone | 

    So, if I can get this straight – a program that forcibly extracts money from poor people and may or may not give it back to them later is “helping” these individuals?

    What program are you talking about? The Social Security Act of 1935 and its subsequent amendments? Because I don’t mean to suggest any one particular program. I’m discussing social security in general – food stamps, housing assistance, medic-aid, etc.
    Also, it is not my intent to discuss the merits of any one program. Just the idea of a social security “net” that has become ingrained in our politics and society.

    But while we’re at it… If you want to discuss the immorality of robbing Peter to pay Paul in the context of general social security, then where would you stop? IOW, if it is immoral to take money through forced taxation from someone with the purpose of giving it to someone else, then ANY state run welfare as we know it would be immoral.
    “The homeless, the hungry, the sick… fuck you. You don’t take from me.”

    If, however, you think that the state has any obligation to seek to remedy those in dire need, then your objection is not one of principle, but of degree.

    Right?

  3. #3 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

    @#47 RobZ

    DI is disability insurance; incidentally, DI will go broke this decade so no need to worry about 2030 ratios:

    http://brucekrasting.blogspot.com/2012/03/on-politics-social-security-and-spine.html

    OAS is the Old Age and Survivors Insurance. This is the piece wherein two workers will fund one beneficiary by the end of the next decade.

    Straight from the horse’s mouth on page 54 (pdf warning):

    http://www.fms.treas.gov/fr/05frusg/05frusg.pdf

  4. #4 |  supercat | 

    #40 | PogueMahone | “One wonders if the people that these programs that are “purported to benefit” believe the same.”

    A major and predictable effect of many wealth redistribution programs is to create dependency. People who are addicted to such programs will be able to immediately feel short-term hardship if such programs are cut, but will generally be blind to what their lives could have been had they (or their parents) not become dependent upon the government, or what their lives could be if they could wean themselves. That people’s addiction blinds them to the destruction such programs are wreaking on their lives does not mean that they would not, in the majority of cases, benefit greatly from being weaned off them.

    Further, while there are some rich parasites who use the government to help them leech off the populace, the poor owe almost everything they have to those members of “evil” 1% who are not so politically connected. Many people who are rich, are rich in significant measure because they invest their time and money in things that generate wealth (businesses, factories, etc.) They invest in these things because they expect to profit personally, but their investments also provide goods, services, and jobs for countless other people.

    Also, consider the following technologies: electric lighting; central heating; indoor plumbing; telephone service; automobiles; washing machines. All of those things existed 100 years ago, but would have been regarded as extreme luxuries available only to a wealthy few. Today, all of them are available to the average person, and are practically regarded as necessities. Were it not for the fact the existence of wealthy people that could afford them in past decades, none of those technologies would exist today.

    There’s a common pattern that occurs with many new technologies. Initially, a new technology will be too expensive for many people to afford it, but enough people will be able to afford it–even at a high price–to make it profitable to develop. The high prices paid by early adopters in turn go to fund research and development which, in time, make the technologies cheaper and cheaper, to the point that many people can afford them. Early adopters are willing to pay big bucks for new technology, in exchange for being able to use it before everyone else. Covetous people may not like the fact that those who are willing to spend more get things before everyone else, but it’s the willingness of early adopters to pay for their priority that makes it possible to develop technologies in the first place.

  5. #5 |  Matt | 

    What program are you talking about? The Social Security Act of 1935 and its subsequent amendments? Because I don’t mean to suggest any one particular program.

    I forgot the part of my post where any particular program was mentioned.

    Also, it is not my intent to discuss the merits of any one program.

    I never mentioned “any one program”.

    Just the idea of a social security “net” that has become ingrained in our politics and society.

    Wasn’t that what I was talking about?

    But while we’re at it… If you want to discuss the immorality of robbing Peter to pay Paul in the context of general social security, then where would you stop? IOW, if it is immoral to take money through forced taxation from someone with the purpose of giving it to someone else, then ANY state run welfare as we know it would be immoral.

    Now we’re getting somewhere. Although it isn’t only welfare that is immoral, as every government program (be it corporate welfare, military industrial complex, etc) is essentially extracting money from Peter under the threat of kidnapping, rape and murder. Any argument you put forward in support of paying Paul (whoever that Paul may be) is a direct threat against the well-being of Peter. You are essentially saying “I don’t care if armed psychopaths come to your house and drag you away to a rape room, you are merely a walking wallet that I may take from as I choose.”

    Right?

  6. #6 |  supercat | 

    #50 | PogueMahone | “… then ANY state run welfare as we know it would be immoral.”

    Any “assistance” program which is run in such a way that a person who endeavors not to need it will be worse off than someone who is not so motivated, will promote dependency and should be regarded as immoral. If a government welfare program were run in such a way that nobody would accept welfare unless they had absolutely positively no other option, such a program might not be immoral, but leftists instead prefer to make their dependency programs “comfortable” for their addicts.

  7. #7 |  OGRE | 

    From where does the state’s moral obligation to “seek to remedy those in dire need” come? Is said proposition some universal objective truth?

    Lets take that proposition for a given. Then what actions can the state morally take in order to “remedy those in dire need.” Taxation through force? But just money? Property as well? Is forced labor okay? Conscription to build schools and homeless shelters and to work in soup kitchens, is that okay? Drafting people to shoot other people seems okay to most people, so why not forced labor?

    What about forced organ donations? Is the state morally obligated–or even morally justified–to take your kidney to give to someone else? You’ve got two, and some people don’t have even one. Don’t be selfish. Your spare kidney is a lot more important to the guy getting it than it is to you. And its a lot more important than giving him cash each month (I mean, without the cash he might eventually starve, but without the kidney he definitely will die.) Oh and the president needs a heart transplant…hes a lot more important than you, so tough luck.

    So then really, what actions should the state be taking to remedy all the wrongs in the world? What actions should the state not take? What wrongs should the state be seeking to rectify? What wrongs MUST the state seek to rectify? Why those and not others? Does this obligation extend to the whole world or just to those within the state’s geographic bounds? Just to citizens or to anybody within the state’s territory? Why?

    What penalties are appropriate for the state to impose on someone who doesn’t comply with these moral imperatives? Fines? Imprisonment? Torture? Death?

    Now if the state is morally obligated to remedy the wrongs in the world, what about other entities? Individuals? Corporations? Lets say I set up an organization to feed homeless people, and you won’t give me the money I think you should to help feed homeless people. Can I shoot you? Why not? Can I confiscate your house or car or paycheck? The state can, how come I can’t? What about Apple or Walmart if they try to do some good in this world? What can they do to people who are too selfish to help out?

    I’m so confused.

  8. #8 |  PogueMahone | 

    Wasn’t that what I was talking about?

    You’re asking me, Matt? You stated that,
    “So, if I can get this straight – a program that forcibly extracts money from poor people and may or may not give it back to them later is “helping” these individuals?”
    There is only one program that I know of that takes money from poor people to give it back to them later.
    “You are essentially saying “I don’t care if armed psychopaths come to your house and drag you away to a rape room, you are merely a walking wallet that I may take from as I choose.”

    Right?”

    Wrong. I’m saying no such thing. Where did I say that “I don’t care if armed psychopaths” do anything? You’re projecting. I’m not the statist bogeyman you might think I am.
    What I’m doing is asking a question that “true” libertarians are generally uncomfortable with. What do you do with the members of society, a society that you both are a part of and benefit from, who have fallen to the wayside – whether by their fault or not? Do you rely solely on private charity, and if so, what do you do if that fails? Leave them on the side of the road and say “oh well, I guess you’re shit out of luck,” or do you think that the state has not only an obligation to the unfortunate, but also an obligation to the rest of society to assist the unfortunate?

    If you think that the state does have an obligation to care for these individuals, then it is logical to assume that the state must do so at the expense of others.
    If you believe that the state does not have an obligation to do that, then you must assume that a significant portion of our society WILL fall to the wayside and solely rely on private charity, a prospect subject to failure. If you do not assume that a significant portion of our society will fall, and you assume that government welfare arrests ALL unfortunate members of society, then you are being naive.

    If you, and OGRE and others, can flat out suggest that the state has no obligation, moral or otherwise, to assist those in need, then bully for you. You then must face a proposed reality of those who have, and those who have not. And that you would be willing to step over the hungry, the homeless, the sick, and everyone else because they are … shit out of luck.

    So which is it? Does the state have an obligation to assist those in need? Or is it every man for themselves?

  9. #9 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @45 – Then why do you do it?

    The UK economy IS crashing and burning, and the US economy IS doing much better.

    I’m technically an anarchist for flip sake, and I want to trim back many government functions. I’d almost certainly agree with the vast majority of your views on the military, for example, and want the state out of marriage.

    You just fixate on “he’s a left winger and hence the enemy”. Oh, and on dreams rather than practical steps. The whole concept of an outright revolution doing anything but spraying blood around…

    @51 – Sure. Many of them would be dead, although there would be a lot more overall, since they’d need kids to provide in their old age, like other primitive countries. Your theory about dribble down is rubbish. It’s the formation of a middle class which lifts nations out of poverty, not the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. You are historically ignorant…

  10. #10 |  Matt | 

    There is only one program that I know of that takes money from poor people to give it back to them later.

    I can think of three off the top of my head – SS, Medicare, and Medicade. And there are more than that.

    Wrong. I’m saying no such thing. Where did I say that “I don’t care if armed psychopaths” do anything? You’re projecting. I’m not the statist bogeyman you might think I am.

    Do you think that taxes should be forcibly collected from the population? It seems based on your post that you do. Right now, if you don’t pay your taxes, armed psychopaths come to your door, kidnap you, and drag you off to a rape room. If you lift a finger to defend yourself they’ll shoot you and brag about the fortnight vacation on a cop forum. If you support taxation and the state this is what you support, is it not? I have not heard a peep from you in the vein of “I don’t support taxation and the state”, so I can only assume this be true.

    If you believe that the state does not have an obligation to do that, then you must assume that a significant portion of our society WILL fall to the wayside and solely rely on private charity, a prospect subject to failure.

    Why is private charity subject to failure any more than public charity is? Seems like you have things backwards, actually. If a private charity fails there are many programs who can take their place. Who’s going to take the place of the largest “charity”, with $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities? Maybe you can explain to those dependents how good your intentions were when the government fails.

  11. #11 |  OGRE | 

    “Does the state have an obligation to assist those in need?”

    I don’t know. Does it? You suggest that it does. Why?

  12. #12 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @57 – So you want millions more to go without coverage, and for starving elderly people lying in the street. That’s what it’s come down to.

    You can’t reverse a policy like that without causing mass deaths. No state support in people’s old age means they need more kids. Lots more kids. That’s your lead time on that one.

    Your rant against any taxation and society in general is telling though.

    “If a private charity fails there are many programs who can take their place. ”

    Maybe. For some people. Hope you didn’t move away from your community. Or you’re not an “undesirable”. Or you don’t have someone who dislikes you in the charity. Or… the state, at least theoretically, is supposed to be even-handed. Private charities don’t.

    And “when” the government falls, I see. So, 50% or 60% death rates in the process?

  13. #13 |  Mattocracy | 

    @ Leon,

    I find it aggravating when people throw out the same talking points over and over again knowing darn good and well what libertarians are going to respond with. We hear the same shit about how awesome gov’t programs save the plight of the poor and seriously doubt and libertarian has done an about face because of it. So it add nothing constructive whatsoever.

    Also, the US economy isn’t doing that great. Stating that cutting expenses by the UK Gov is causing the economy to flounder fails to take into account a whole host of other factors that effect the economy. Your statement is more subjective than anything else.

  14. #14 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

    @ Leon: “I’m technically an anarchist” ….. “And “when” the government falls, I see. So, 50% or 60% death rates in the process?”

    So you’re a Hobbesian Anarchist? Or an Anarchist Hobbesian?

    “the state, at least theoretically, is supposed to be even-handed.”

    If you replace “even-handed” with “double-fisted,” (as in “The double-fisted revenue agent will gladly take two handfuls of my property”) I would be inclined to agree with you.

  15. #15 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

    @#47 RobZ:
    “How the hell did you come up with that figure? According to the SSA: “The number of DI beneficiaries…”

    DI is disability insurance; incidentally, DI will go broke this decade so no need to worry about 2030 ratios.

    OAS is the Old Age and Survivors Insurance. This is the piece wherein two workers will fund one beneficiary by the end of the next decade.

    Straight from the horse’s mouth on page 54 (pdf warning):

    http://www.fms.treas.gov/fr/05frusg/05frusg.pdf

  16. #16 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

    Here are the rosy prospects for the disability insurance portion of SS:

    http://brucekrasting.blogspot.com/2012/03/on-politics-social-security-and-spine.html

  17. #17 |  PogueMahone | 

    If a private charity fails there are many programs who can take their place. Who’s going to take the place of the largest “charity”, with $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities?

    According to your logic, if government charities fail, then private charities would pick up the slack.
    You don’t seriously believe that if there were no state welfare, then private charities would be adequate, do you? If you do, history would not be on your side.

  18. #18 |  Matt | 

    According to your logic, if government charities fail, then private charities would pick up the slack.

    What “if”? There is no “if” involved in government charities failing. The word you are searching for is “when”. Anyone with a calculator can verify that these programs will eventually go bankrupt, and D-day is fast approaching.

    You don’t seriously believe that if there were no state welfare, then private charities would be adequate, do you? If you do, history would not be on your side.

    Why? That’s how things used to happen. People weren’t starving in the streets before these programs started. Hell, FDR had elaborate plans in place to burn people’s crops because he thought part of the reason the great depression started was that food was too cheap. Now that incomes have risen vastly we have even more disposable income to post towards charitable causes.

    Your logic also goes against the basic tenets of democracy, which I assume you believe in. Now I’m not a statist so I don’t care about democracy, but I imagine you do. In order for these programs to pass they will have to have the support of the majority of the population, right? Well if the majority of the population cares enough to campaign and vote on these issues and voluntarily offer to surrender their income for these causes than it follows that the majority of the population in a free society would want these things to happen, correct? If they are already OK with surrendering their income to the state why would they not voluntarily surrender their income to charity?

  19. #19 |  supercat | 

    #58 | PogueMahone | “What do you do with the members of society, a society that you both are a part of and benefit from, who have fallen to the wayside – whether by their fault or not?”

    First and foremost, one should ensure that people will do whatever they can to minimize their need for assistance. No matter what society does, there will be some people who fall by the wayside, but efforts to make falling by the wayside less harmful will almost invariably make people fear it less, and will often consequently end up increasing the total harm. Welfare programs are bad in part because they take money from people who would otherwise be prone to use it in ways which would be more beneficial to society, but they’re bad mainly because they make dependency more comfortable than independence. Society would be better off if the money that had gone into entitlement programs had instead been dumped into a black hole. Taking from the rich and giving to the poor doesn’t end proverty–it promotes it. People who are inclined to live beyond their means will always be poor no matter how much they are given; rewarding such people by giving them more money will simply promote more reckless spending.

  20. #20 |  Mike T | 

    Mattrocracy,

    Also, the US economy isn’t doing that great. Stating that cutting expenses by the UK Gov is causing the economy to flounder fails to take into account a whole host of other factors that effect the economy. Your statement is more subjective than anything else.

    This is what the leftists don’t understand. Government deficit spending is one of the components of GDP. When the federal government deficit spends $1.5T, it “adds” that to the GDP. The US actually has a real GDP below $14T, not $15T+ now. What the UK did was it began to cut spending to come in line with the tax receipts, which pulled more of the rug out from underneath the economy. However, the UK did so on its terms rather than on the terms of external parties which is what Greece is facing now.

    These liberal idiots cannot grasp the simple fact that this is unsustainable. Our economy is doing better for the same reason an athlete who heavily uses steroids performs better. In another few years at the current rate of deficit spending, our national debt will be around 150-160% GDP; it’s already technically at about 110% GDP if you use the real GDP, not “real GDP + deficit spending” which the Demothuglicans are using to keep the public from realizing Romney and Obama are both death sentences for our economy.

  21. #21 |  Mike T | 

    You don’t seriously believe that if there were no state welfare, then private charities would be adequate, do you? If you do, history would not be on your side.

    That depends on how you define adequacy. From our perspective, private charity was always sufficiently adequate because we reject the idea that just because you’re suffering and have your hand out you should receive assistance. Unlike liberals, libertarians and conservatives believe that suffering is a natural consequence to choosing self-destructive or immoral ways of living which one is free to choose. Thus, we may readily agree with you that an out of work worker down on his luck needs a break, but from our perspective, there is nothing immoral about denying public assistance to drunkards, drug addicts, chain smokers, the morbidly obese, he promiscuous, etc.

    Liberty has consequences.

  22. #22 |  PogueMahone | 

    People weren’t starving in the streets before these programs started.

    Really, Matt!? You’re surely joking, right?

    In order for these programs to pass they will have to have the support of the majority of the population, right?

    Wrong. The programs (any program, really) merely need a minority who do want them and a majority who does not care. Welcome to the United States.

    If they are already OK with surrendering their income to the state why would they not voluntarily surrender their income to charity?

    We don’t have an a la carte tax system whereby you can choose which policies you want to be taxed over. There is no system that you can decide that your tax dollars are specifically to go to this but not to that. It simply doesn’t work like that.
    For example, I have no problem with my tax dollars going to support programs like food stamps. 20 years ago I was down on my luck and food stamps helped me out immeasurably. Today, I own my own business. (don’t worry, I’m not foolish enough to believe that this happens to everyone – and there is merit to the welfare “trap” argument… anyhoo…) I don’t, however, want my tax dollars to go to dropping bombs in hell hole X. But I don’t get to choose that. The best I can do is vote for the best representative that chooses to support the policies that I support.

    That’s the system we live in. Governments tax and spend. If you can’t accept that, then there is no point in discussing any particular policy of tax or spend. We’d have to begin by discussing why there is this newfangled concept called society and government.

    Cheers.

  23. #23 |  PogueMahone | 

    Mike T,
    That depends on how you define adequacy.

    Thus, we may readily agree with you that an out of work worker down on his luck needs a break, but from our perspective, there is nothing immoral about denying public assistance to drunkards, drug addicts, chain smokers, the morbidly obese, he promiscuous, etc.

    That’s a good point. As you stated, there’s a difference between someone who is down on his luck, and someone who is a drunk. So, is it moral, and necessary, to supply adequate welfare for the former but not the latter? That there is something immoral about taking from Peter, the stand-up guy, to give to Paul, the town drunk? It would be hard to argue against that.

    However, (now that we’ve established that it is not immoral to take from Peter, the stand-up guy, to give to Paul, the temporarily-down-on-his-luck guy) we’ve gone beyond the principle that states that it is always immoral for governments to take from Peter to give to Paul, and have now moved on to it being a matter of degree.

    Now we’re getting somewhere…

    Cheers.

  24. #24 |  Ben | 

    “If they are already OK with surrendering their income to the state why would they not voluntarily surrender their income to charity?”

    For the same reason that the majority of people over-withhold their income taxes so that they get a bigger refund in the spring. Because even if people know that they SHOULD save, they tend not to unless they set up a situation in which they do it involuntarily.

  25. #25 |  Mike T | 

    #73,

    Welfare ultimately comes down to a prudential consideration, something which most liberals fail to recognize because they refuse to acknowledge that the welfare state as it actually exists behaves at odds with their goals. Unlike most conservatives, I don’t believe the average liberal on the street likes welfare dependency, but merely refuses to acknowledge it as a byproduct because it calls into question their beliefs and accomplishments. The fact of the matter is that social welfare spending as we do it causes substantial risks of dependency and has a variety of destructive side effects including altering family dynamics.

    As a prudential consideration, it might be reasonable for the state (not federal government) to intervene to help a community that got hit hard by an employer that left town. For example, the state could offer a certain amount of unemployment benefits, retraining at a public university or community college at public expense and provide tax incentives to banks to provide 0% interest loans to entrepreneurs in the affected community to either start new businesses or consolidate existing loans to reduce costs.

    When the state pays for a bigger legal system, it gets more people in prison and on probation. When it pays for a much bigger military than it needs, it feels free to wage war. When the state provides welfare freely and reliably, it encourages many irresponsible people to not think before they act.

  26. #26 |  Mike T | 

    Additionally, the point about the guy who is just down on his luck that liberals often seem to miss is that except during the Great Depression, there have always been far fewer of them than people whose misery is the product of their own making. Private charities that are able to get to know would-be recipients of aid are generally capable of handling the guys who are just down on their luck without many problems.

    As a society, we actually need the drunkards, drug addicts, the promiscuous, etc. to be denied welfare so as to serve as a warning to others of why those behaviors ought to be avoided by personal choice. If people see single mothers getting fatter checks as they have more babies, drug addicts getting top quality health care, etc. there are a lot of people who end up taking home the wrong message about personal choices. In a sociological sense, it’s like a market distortion of the same degree and similar kind as the bailouts of the financial sector.

  27. #27 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    So much oofda in this thread.

  28. #28 |  RobZ | 

    Johnny Clamboat

    “DI is disability insurance; incidentally, DI will go broke this decade so no need to worry about 2030 ratios.”

    I should have caught that. Thanks for the correction.

    Returning to the original topic:

    Robert Reich has pointed out that in 1983, the SS cap was set so that 90% of household income was taxed. Now, it’s dropped to 84%. Raise the cap to 90% as it was in 1983 and the SS problem goes away for the foreseeable future.

    In any event, Medicare is in much much worse shape and there don’t appear to be any relatively easy fixes for it.

  29. #29 |  Ben | 

    “Private charities that are able to get to know would-be recipients of aid are generally capable of handling the guys who are just down on their luck without many problems.”

    Private charities are generally either 1. church based, 2. dedicated to people who are suffering from some specific medical ailment or 3. dedicated to a specific subset of aggrieved people, such as battered women, etc. I don’t know of too many secular private charities that just have a general fund to help random poor people out with their rent. So if you’re atheist and don’t fall into either of the other charities, you’d be truly fucked.

    “As a society, we actually need the drunkards, drug addicts, the promiscuous, etc. to be denied welfare so as to serve as a warning to others of why those behaviors ought to be avoided by personal choice.”

    In other words, fuck ’em. Just step over the bodies.

  30. #30 |  Graham Shevlin | 

    “As a society, we actually need the drunkards, drug addicts, the promiscuous, etc. to be denied welfare so as to serve as a warning to others of why those behaviors ought to be avoided by personal choice.”

    OK, so then we need to make sure that a significant percentage of corporate leaders, politicians, showbiz people and other wealthy individuals should not be able to claim any government benefits. That’ll teach them…
    Oh, wait a minute…
    I have a better idea. How about preventing anybody who says a single perjorative word about “government handouts” and “entitlements” from claiming any form of government assistance, like subsidies, tax concessions etc?

  31. #31 |  Mike T | 

    In other words, fuck ‘em. Just step over the bodies.

    As a matter of public policy, yes. Once again: Liberty has consequences [if you choose to abuse it]. Let private charity choose to minister to them.

    I have a better idea. How about preventing anybody who says a single perjorative word about “government handouts” and “entitlements” from claiming any form of government assistance, like subsidies, tax concessions etc?

    How about we do the same to anyone who says a single pejorative word about police powers from claiming police protection while we’re at it? Oh wait…

  32. #32 |  RobZ | 

    “As a society, we actually need the drunkards, drug addicts, the promiscuous, etc. to be denied welfare so as to serve as a warning to others of why those behaviors ought to be avoided by personal choice.”

    Who gets to decide who falls into the “denied welfare so as to serve as a warning to others” category? Would these decisions be made locally?

  33. #33 |  Darwin | 

    Do a little research instead of believing whatever wingnut central tells you to think.

    http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-cohn/101741/cbo-obamacare-cost-deficit-lie-double-price-fox

  34. #34 |  Mike T | 

    Who gets to decide who falls into the “denied welfare so as to serve as a warning to others” category? Would these decisions be made locally?

    That’s what I alluded to when I said that it’s a state matter working through the particularly needy communities such as communities that were rocked by financial devastation beyond their reasonable control (ex being the big employer outsourcing their jobs). As a prudential consideration, welfare should be a policy that is used sparingly to target particular situations, not a blanket policy that is always there.

  35. #35 |  DPirate | 

    Reddit, the best thing about: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/qxu0r/the_tsa_stole_my_pocket_knife_out_of_my_checked/c41dp34

  36. #36 |  supercat | 

    #73 | PogueMahone | “… and have now moved on to it being a matter of degree. ”

    Unexpected charity or support can be beneficial to the recipient, but expectations of charity or undeserved support are highly toxic. It may not be possible to provide even emergency support for people without creating some expectation, and having some of that expectation create need which would not otherwise exist, but it’s imperative that the new need created be a small fraction of the support given.

    If one measures efficiency as one minus the quantity of new need created per support dollar spent, aid will be 90% efficient if each dollar of support creates $0.10 of new need, 50% efficient if each support dollar creates $0.50 of new need, or 10% if each support dollar creates $0.90 of new need, etc. There may be room for judgment in deciding whether it is worthwhile to give support in a manner which is 50% efficient. On the other hand, if each dollar of support generates more than a dollar of new need, efficiency will go negative. It makes no sense to spend *any* money in a way which yields negative efficiency.

  37. #37 |  Matt | 

    @72

    Really, Matt!? You’re surely joking, right?

    Why would I be joking? You have presented zero evidence that there was mass starvation before the advent of government-based welfare programs.

    Wrong. The programs (any program, really) merely need a minority who do want them and a majority who does not care. Welcome to the United States.

    Sounds like private charity would work just fine then, right? A majority support is not needed for private charity to function.

    We don’t have an a la carte tax system whereby you can choose which policies you want to be taxed over. There is no system that you can decide that your tax dollars are specifically to go to this but not to that. It simply doesn’t work like that.

    For example, I …

    This entire set of paragraphs seems to be making my argument for me. Yes, you can’t choose where your taxes go. You would like your money to go to those who need it and not to various warmongers/corporate welfare/etc. So why do you denigrate the system that would allow you to do this (voluntarism) and support the system that does the opposite of what you want (statism/collectivism)? This confuses me.

    That’s the system we live in. Governments tax and spend. If you can’t accept that, then there is no point in discussing any particular policy of tax or spend. We’d have to begin by discussing why there is this newfangled concept called society and government.

    Why are you trying to counter my normative statements with positive ones? Yes, governments tax and spend. They do a shitty job of it. This has nothing to do with whether or not governments should exist, something you haven’t tackled yet.

  38. #38 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @64 – Hobbsian? No, that’s the people calling for the government to be dissolved.

    @69 – Sure, let the poor starve and you no longer have the poor. Congratulations, you’ve solved poverty!

    @76 – The untouchables, the lower class, blacks, Jews… making things morally conditional has a storied history.

  39. #39 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @87 – No, why would I bother providing evidence when a basic reading of history shows that even “developed” countries have only in the last century generally stopped significant numbers of their own citizens from suffering starvation and malnutrition.

    And again, private charity is great as long as you’re the “right sort”. Social Darwinism, in other words. There should be no NEED for the *basics* to be covered by people spending their private time. This is what a state is FOR.

    But back in reality, some of us actually want a system which allows people to thrive and fosters individualism. The closest thing to that which we have…is the Nordic Model.

    The closest thing to yours? Somalia. Tribalism.

  40. #40 |  supercat | 

    #88 | Leon Wolfeson | “The untouchables, the lower class, blacks, Jews… making things morally conditional has a storied history.”

    Today’s lower classes are harmed far more by programs which tell them they will be supported regardless of the life decisions they make, than they would be if they were told they’d have to live with the consequences of bad decisions. If someone who would rather spend money on a 50″ television than on food complains of hunger, rewarding such complains with charity will simply encourage other people to get 50″ televisions, since their choices aren’t just “food and no television” or “television and no food”, but they can also get “television and food as well”.

    If someone decides he’ll be happy spending half as much on food as some other people, if he can spend the balance toward getting a fancy television, that should be his right. If he is in fact satisfied with the reduced food budget, his decision may be a good one. If, however, he ends up being unacceptably hungry as a result, it is not a judgment call for others to say his decision should not be rewarded. Either he is genuinely unsatisfied with his food budget, in which case he would have been better off spending less on television and more on food, making his decision a bad one which should not be rewarded, or else he is exaggerating his hunger, which should also not be rewarded.

    Society can only function when people have incentives to minimize their needs. Rewarding those who maximize their needs is a recipe for disaster.