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Post 0

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 4:11amSanction this postReply
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Joe, the principles you outline in this article seem as obvious as gravity, but I don't understand why more people can't or won't see what you and I see.

Post 1

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 10:43amSanction this postReply
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The speaker you mention most likely envisions a government run welfare state.  However it is reasonable to posit as a matter of practicality/strategy that in order to ditch the modern western welfare state you need to have a strong civil society that provides a private social net, especially in the short term or chaos will ensue and society will quickly revert back to a welfare state, perhaps worse than the one before...


Post 2

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 11:23amSanction this postReply
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What Travis mentioned is one of the huge hurtles that we would have to pass over to stop the welfare state.  How do you convince people that they don't have the right to free handouts when they have been raised to believe that they do have that right?  More over, how do you convince the speaker Joe met that his ideology is a train ticket to societal bankruptcy?  I doubt that he would take that news very well, being that he is giving speeches on his ideas.

In the war room articles say that we are trying to win menís minds in a philosophical war.  But how do you fight indoctrination that causes blatant denial of facts?  The only answer to this is one generation at a time in a very slow moving counter campaign of propaganda (use of the word being information meant to sway opinion.) that will remains largely word of mouth today.

I agree that using a private safety net before we can move out of a welfare state would be the ideal transition.  Though we still need to find a way to convince folks that they need to privately take up their egalitarian concerns for the lesser man.  That is, we need to wane a portion of the population off nanny governments bottles and convince them that only they can effectively bring about the change they are looking to bring about.   Convince them that they need to own their egalitarian concerns not push the cost of it off onto others through the government.

 So perhaps?

 

Step 1:  Find a viable method of privatizing welfare programs that are effective at aiding people get back onto their feet again.

Step 2:  Convince a portion of society that if their wanting to help people can be achieved more effectively through our private method.

Step 3:  Stop the government welfare programs and replace them with private ones.

 

            Only through offering people a better idea can we hope to get them to abandon their current ideas.  But we are also required to show them how much better the new idea is as well.  We are effectively selling one idea over the other.  It is important that we do it this way instead of simply being anti-welfare.  We are not people of anti-thoughts.

 

Sorry for the rant.  Travis just sparked some ideas.

 

Thanks,

 
Eric.


Post 3

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 12:18pmSanction this postReply
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Joe, I admire your work, but I have one question about your article.  You say, "Pretty soon smoking and drinking are illegal, fattening foods are illegal, gambling is illegal, etc."  Well, America has welfare, but in America smoking, drinking, and fattening foods aren't illegal.  Many types of gambling aren't illegal.  Doesn't this prove your statement is incorrect?

(Don't get me wrong--I'm no fan of welfare programs.)


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Post 4

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 12:53pmSanction this postReply
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Daniel,

Actually, gambling is illegal in most states. They tried making alcohol illegal for awhile (they still do it with many other drugs), and only stopped because of the secondary consequences (crime). There are definitely people who feel that tobacco should be illegal, explicitly because the government is footing the bill for health. They've already made it illegal to smoke in many places, and are working to get rid of it entirely.

In all of these cases (and many more!) you hear that the reductions in our freedom are better for society because society is footing the bill. That they haven't succeeded completely (yet) in all of them makes little difference. The point is still true, and the evidence keeps coming in.

Mick and Eric,

The strong private support system is one way of approaching the transition, but it's still conceding the major point. It's the belief that we must pay for these people, and that it's only a question of how we do. If that's concession is made, government will always be the straightforward answer.

There are other possibilities. Since the basic problems is altruism, you can attack that ethical system. You can hit it from both sides. Convince the "givers" that they don't have a moral obligation to give. And convince the "takers" that they're not really benefiting from living off of welfare. To do that, you need to show them that they're throwing their lives away, and it's not enough to just stay alive.

I doubt we'll move entirely away from a welfare state as long as the altruistic premises are still accepted. And once those are gone, there won't be a need for a vast private social net.

Post 5

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 2:52pmSanction this postReply
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I really enjoyed this! It was a clearly presented (and good) topic, and I hadn't thought it through like this before. Matthew, that might answer your question! Just because someone shares an idea/belief, doesn't mean they know all the implications and reasons. I am always amazed by how much I keep learning and how things that might be a little fuzzy continue to make more sense. So while total freedom isn't really a question in my mind, this still was great to read!

-Elizabeth


Post 6

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 1:40pmSanction this postReply
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Joe, thanks for the response.

But one thing--didn't prohibition happen before America even had welfare?  If I'm right about that, it seems that prohibition wouldn't count as evidence that welfare programs lead to laws that outlaw drinking alcohol.


Post 7

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 2:55pmSanction this postReply
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Good article.

You make mention of bankruptcies as a consequence
of privatizing costs and socializing profits. It
got me to thinking about bankruptcy in general...
Bankruptcy law strikes me as being a very minimal
sort of "social safety net" in itself; in effect,
it prevents a person from selling himself into
slavery. I suppose an orthodox Objectivist
position would reject bankruptcy as rewarding
folly and punishing the innocent, but I'm still
pretty shy of saying it's a bad idea. Anyone want
to help me justify this? Or am I just giving in
to my altruistic moral programming? ;-)


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Post 8

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 3:21pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks Elizabeth. Glad you liked it.

Daniel, we'd have to go through the arguments at the time to be sure. Certainly the latest prohibition, the War on Drugs, is at least partially backed by the idea that we have to reduce reckless behavior because of the welfare costs. In fact, some local governments have set up random drug tests for welfare recipients. The principle is clear and often made explicit. If the government is footing the bill, it can demand particular behavior.

Greg, I think some current bankruptcy laws are an act of welfare. The government is allowing limited theft along altruistic lines. The poor takes money from the rich. The borrower takes money from the lender.

Now I've heard that when you declare bankruptcy, you don't get to write-off all of your debt. There's an entire class of debt that doesn't go away. Drumroll please....

Yup, debt to the government. If you've got government student loans, or you own money to the IRS, you don't get away so easily. The principle of course is that theft is alright, as long as you're not taking it from the government.

Post 9

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 4:33pmSanction this postReply
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Joe,

 

Clarification: when I mentioned the private welfare system I didnít give entire detail in what it was I was thinking about.  So here goes: the only reason I support a private method of welfare for a transition is that even though it is not my personal moral obligation or anyone elseís to support or help people.  I see it to be in my benefit to reduce ignorance and poverty in my area of the world.  Reducing these reduces costs on government police forces, which reduces taxes or the need for as much government revenue in a limited government volitional tax system.

People would not have a right to my program of course so perhaps calling it welfare is not warranted; I believe it would be closer to a non-profit training school than it would be welfare, as we know it today.  What I want to replace welfare is a private method of training people in the skills they need to make themselves productive people.  (Teach a man to light a fire and fish, instead of giving him both and never telling him how he got them.)  The benefit of using this ďtraining schoolĒ to help people is that it also acts as a venue to attack the altruistic premises of society.

My private system would not be regulated so people could work to pay my fees while the school helped them become educated, productive folks.  Those who are training to start a childcare facility could provide childcare and get hands on experience, etc.  The point is it can be designed so it could be used to help folks, reduce crime and poverty, increase education of the masses, convey a good sound philosophy to the people who are the ďtakersĒ and earn me a decent paycheck at the end of the week.  Kind of a vocational school, plus some.

 
I donít think I am conceding to anything there but if I am I certainly donít intend it.  I just think helping people can be good business.  I donít have any business plan worked up yet and certainly havenít looked at the finance possibilities but I am certainly interested to see if works on paper.
 
~Eric


Post 10

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 4:57pmSanction this postReply
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Greg,

 

            I think a completely privatized world with no bankruptcy proceedings might work.  It would require that a little more work go into the contract end of lending and barrowing.  Banks and lenders would be by contrast extremely prejudice about where their money goes under that system.  They are rather lending happy today because if you go bankrupt they can write off their losses on their taxes.  In a system with no taxes, there would be no write offs.  SO there would be a few choices for the banker to make.

1.)    Run you dry for every single penny you have and then continue to bleed you until they are paid back in full or you die.  (This method would not yield the most money for a banker.)

2.)    Refinance your load and give you more time to pay.  (This would yield more money in the long run than #1 but people might continuously want to refinance until their death resulting in a large loss for the banker in the long run.)

 

There might be other options but I can't think of any right now.

 

So it would be up to the banker to come up with a balance between one and two to minimize their losses.  It would be in the interest of the barrower to have provisions for the event of bankruptcy built into their lending contracts to ensure the banker couldnít contractually enslave him or bleed him dry forever.  But in the end lending and barrowing is risk-taking; sometimes we just have to sit with the loss of failure.  The only way to have a working non-bankruptcy system is to have responsible lenders and barrowers.

 

Eric.


Post 11

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 5:14pmSanction this postReply
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Eric,

I'm not trying to argue against charity, which I think is your point. I can see the value in what you're suggesting. There's no disagreement in principle there.

What I was saying was that setting up a private alternative isn't the key to getting rid of welfare. It's the premise that we must do something for these people that has to be questioned and dismissed. Certainly having private charities would ease the transition, but I don't think the transition will happen under the current altruistic assumptions.

Trying to alleviate the fears of the altruists by having a private system in place doesn't seem like it can work. If you grant that we have to do something, and then it's just a question of how to do it, you aren't moving away from the "right to welfare" position. You might get some improvement by privatizing the charities, but even that's questionable. It's like privatizing the management of public schools. You might get a gradual improvement, but it's a revolution that we need!

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Post 12

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 5:52pmSanction this postReply
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Where's the challenge in living life with a safety net?

Sam


Post 13

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 10:27pmSanction this postReply
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(Edited by Eric J. Tower on 3/26, 10:28pm)


Post 14

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 11:08pmSanction this postReply
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Good article Joe!

To comment on some of the early posters who talk about a "transition" to private charity. This should not be considered the primary change that we are seeking to bring about (which I think Joe agrees on).

We must get it out of peoples thick heads that noone is obliged to assist them in a case of need.  The aim should not be to replace compulsory welfare with private welfare. It should be to replace the altruist ethic with individual self-responsibility.

If, having brought about such a philosophical change, individuals feel so inclined to assist those that are in need, this is their moral right, not obligation.

In short, if we were to achieve a change from a system of compulsory to voluntary charity, it would not be sustainable if the moochers and moochees still held the act of beneficence towards the needy to be a primary virtue, as this would inevitably lead to a progressive reinstatement of a welfare state, as history has shown over and over again.

To paraphrase an piece of architectural wisdom: "Let political form follow philosophical function". (and not vica-versa).


Post 15

Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 7:55pmSanction this postReply
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Good article, I enjoyed the way you presented it

Unfortunately convincing people that they don't live for other people is a tough task. I've gotten to the point with people that they can't even dispute that man is by nature self-interested, and can agree that Objectivism is hard to dispute when presented, only to have their final response still be "well, i still feel differently, no matter what the facts may be." 95% of people will take what the feel over what they know. With some people, you can assume that they simply do not know any better. Why? Because they have been taught to not know any better. Getting people to not believe in "altruism" and welfare would be like trying to get the Pope and bishops to not believe in God.   


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