I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

On Welfare

A friend posted a rant to Facebook that warranted a response. The general theme as I won't copy paste the whole thing was 'I'm tired of fortunate people complaining about welfare. It seems selfish to complain about helping people living in third world conditions. Socialism isn't inherently bad, it merely has been used for bad.' I responded thusly:

This is where I start to sound callous, but I hope you will understand the context of the fact that I do care about the plight of those far less fortunate than I am, that I put my money where my mouth is and donate money, and that I do recognize two things: I am very fortunate in the way I have lived, and our country is not in an awful state yet. That being said, there are three things I would like to mention.

First, a lot of the debate revolves around "lets stop it at bad point a so it doesn't get to horrific point b." Socialist states outright murdered somewhere between 80 and 100 million people in the 20th century. The average standard of living dropped significantly in most of those states. Economically and realistically, socialism will not raise the bottom up to a decent standard, it will drop the top to an indecent standard.

Second, this country's social contract is based on guarantee of fundamental rights. Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Property. This guarantee does not mean that anything will be provided for you, but merely that no one can take away that which you have. Can you tell me on a fundamental level what the difference is between a government claiming ownership of the product of your labors and slavery? 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs' is the perfect model of slavery.

Would you want to be enslaved? it's generally considered fairly abhorrent, yes? Yet some African Americans post slavery expressed a wish for it back, because they were better off as slaves than left to their own devices. That is essentially what we see today. There are some who, left to their own devices, have failed. A life of servitude in exchange for the daily bread sounds far better than what they have, so they wish everyone to be in those straights so they can have theirs. It's equally selfish to that which you deride, but this time, the product in question hasn't been earned.

The most fundamental of rights is the right to fail.

Third point, then I'll shut up since this is nearly as long as your post at this point. Can you look me in the eye and tell me most welfare recipients are grateful for the help? That they have no desire to be on welfare, and wouldn't be if they could work for their way instead? Some are, of that I have no doubt, and to them I hold no distaste. I would prefer to see them helped through a mechanism a bit more stable and efficient than the US Government, which bleeds inefficiency and loss at every turn, but I have no problem with them being helped. The trouble comes in the people who feel that they deserve the products of someone else's labor by merit of nothing more than being. The people who are content to sit on their butts eating twinkies and watching satellite tv while someone else's money comes in. The people who express hatred for the Bill Gates' and Warren Buffets of the world, simply for the fact that they have something.

If you don't believe these people exist, go through the south or west sides of Chicago. See the slums with satellite dishes on every roof. See the cars and the appliances and the fridges. The poor in this country are NOT like the third world. Third world has people digging through trash piles for something to eat. Third world has backbreaking labor the only way to survive, and not well at that. The standard of living in this country for all but the extreme bottom is far, far better than the well off in the third world.

Believe it or not, conservative and libertarian philosophies are not about selfishness. They are not cold and callous. They are legitimately the best efforts of the people involved to make sure everyone is treated right.


  1. A fundamental flaw in the logic of those supporting Welfare is they should be free to live their life as they choose.

    Great if -- and this is the big problem - if they accept the fact that starving, not having proper medical care, housing, etc could be a consequence of their choices.

    But they want the freedom to fail without the consequences and have it guarantee by the government instead of having to maintain relationships with individuals.

    Running 'welfare' through the government removes the requirement for people to be in community with their friends and family. It allows people to be rude or uncivil and not be called to account. It allows people to not have to learn or have conditions they might not like placed on assistance received.

    In short, it allows people to make the same mistakes repeatedly without having to learn to avoid them.

  2. Well done, and when you have THREE generations on welfare, that tells me they have NO desire to actually ever leave the government tit... But they will bitch to high heaven about their 'condition'...

    1. There are many who have weaponized welfare. My dad once had a grandmother bring in her 15 year old granddaughter for fertility treatments since she couldn't get pregnant. A baby is a check, so have lots of babies. It's a lifestyle now, not a fallback.

  3. Bingo. Well said, sir. I'd be interested to hear your friend's response to this.

    1. Believe me, I would too. She neither commented again nor talked to me privately. If I get a reply, I'm more likely than not going to share it.


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