Walter E. Williams says it simply and well:
Suppose I saw an elderly woman painfully huddled on a heating grate in the dead of winter. She’s hungry and in need of shelter and medical attention. To help the woman, I walk up to you using intimidation and threats and demand that you give me $200. Having taken your money, I then purchase food, shelter and medical assistance for the woman. Would I be guilty of a crime? A moral person would answer in the affirmative. I’ve committed theft by taking the property of one person to give to another.
Most Americans would agree that it would be theft regardless of what I did with the money. Now comes the hard part. Would it still be theft if I were able to get three people to agree that I should take your money? What if I got 100 people to agree – 100,000 or 200 million people? What if instead of personally taking your money to assist the woman, I got together with other Americans and asked Congress to use Internal Revenue Service agents to take your money? In other words, does an act that’s clearly immoral and illegal when done privately become moral when it is done legally and collectively? Put another way, does legality establish morality? Before you answer, keep in mind that slavery was legal; apartheid was legal; the Nazi’s Nuremberg Laws were legal; and the Stalinist and Maoist purges were legal. Legality alone cannot be the guide for moral people. The moral question is whether it’s right to take what belongs to one person to give to another to whom it does not belong.
Our current economic crisis, as well as that of Europe, is a direct result of immoral conduct. Roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of our federal budget can be described as Congress’ taking the property of one American and giving it to another. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid account for nearly half of federal spending. Then there are corporate welfare and farm subsidies and thousands of other spending programs, such as food stamps, welfare and education. According to a 2009 Census Bureau report, nearly 139 million Americans – 46 percent – receive handouts from one or more federal programs, and nearly 50 percent have no federal income tax obligations.
Charity is laudable, but stealing from others to assuage your own guilt is reprehensible.
via Immoral Beyond Redemption by Walter E. Williams.
In the first, Connor Boyack takes the religious angle, where morally-superior folks feel justified forcing people to choose the right when they don’t do it voluntarily. Via Immorality and Irresponsibility: A Justification for Statism? | Connor’s Conundrums:
One such argument claims that because people are unrighteous, the government must do for them what they will not do for themselves.
Those who advance this argument often point to some common examples to support their claim. Because people do not give enough to charity, the welfare system is needed to take care of those unable to provide for themselves. Because children whose families are poor or who live in remote areas would otherwise not have access to a school, a public education system must be financed by taxpayers to provide education for all. Because drug use is prevalent, regulations and prohibitions are needed to criminalize the production and consumption of these illicit substances. The list is lengthy, and each justification is based on the core idea behind this argument: widespread immorality and irresponsibility implicitly authorizes the government’s attempts to enforce a standard of morality that people would otherwise abandon.
He goes on to expound on a 2009 speech by the Apostle D. Todd Christofferson thoroughly refuting that rationalization. A christian would work with compassion and education, not compulsion.
And from another perspective, the Cato institute explains why welfare-by-compulsion, and pretty much all other government programs, fail to meet their goals:
In addition, whatever the intention behind government programs, they are soon captured by special interests. The nature of government is such that programs are almost always implemented in a way to benefit those with a vested interest in them rather than to actually achieve the programs’ stated goals… Among the nonpoor with a vital interest in antipoverty programs are social workers and government employees who administer the programs and business people, such as landlords and physicians, who are paid to provide services to the poor. Thus, anti-poverty programs are usually more concerned with protecting the prerogatives of the bureaucracy than with actually fighting poverty.
via Welfare and Private Charity | Cato @ Liberty.
If you knew that a disaster would eventually hit your family or region, how long would you take to prepare for it? The news is full of reports from all over the world about disasters wiping out an area, and we know that wherever we are, at least one type of disaster — and usually, several different types of disasters — could strike at any time and wipe out all services of convenience, and yet, how much food or water or clothes do you have in storage?
Meyer and Kunreuther have found that there’s nothing they can do to prevent the students from destroying themselves. Even if one of them pulls a student aside and explicitly tells her how to “win” the game—i.e., by building the strongest house possible, as quickly as possible, and then just sitting on it—the student still won’t do it, preferring to rack up those sweet interest payments.
It’s not like the students don’t know what’s coming, either. When asked if they understand what’s going on, they always say, yeah, they get it: they’re about to get hit by an earthquake. So if it’s not stupidity or ignorance, why do the students keep losing? Kunreuther and Meyer believe the game demonstrates a psychological bias toward short-term maximization instead of long-term planning—a psychological bias all humans share.
via Wharton’s “Quake” Simulation Game Shows Why Humans Do Such A Poor Job Planning For & Learning From Catastrophes, via Schneier on Security.
Today’s Herald Journal reports:
The Nibley Elementary School student was born with only 70 percent of her leg and today is on her 15th prosthetic limb.
“Shes never walked without one,” said the girls mother, Kay Sweeten. “Her first prosthesis came in the mail, we strapped it on and she was walking.”
Now, she and her mother are marching forward to lobby for Utah House Bill 66.
Sponsored by Rep. David Litvak, D-Salt Lake City, and Sen. John L. Valentine, R-Orem, HB66 would amend current insurance code to require that insurers provide a health benefit plan that offers coverage for prosthetic devices.
It’s always a sad thing when some people realize they can force other people to pay for their support by passing a law. It’s like stealing, but instead of going to your neighbor’s house and taking their money, you send government agents to their house to take their money, skim a little off the top, and then give you a cut.
Elizabeth says her involvement in politics might just spark a career in her future. Her family teasingly calls her Senator Sweeten.
Just what we need – another politician willing to live off the productive people.
via The Herald Journal: News – Legislative steps: Nibley mother and daughter lobby for amputee insurance.