Abolish the Welfare State

I’ve never really liked the NHS historically, for one very important reason: poor service. Justice requires that the consumer receive the service he or she has paid for. That’s fair trade; it is the most basic principle of legitimate human interaction; exchanging value for value.

The reason I object to the NHS on principle is the same reason I object to paying a television license for a government-subsidised broadcasting company: my money is taken for a service I have not requested. Paying for the BBC is like handing over money to enter a fairground with all these wonderful rides, only to have some annoying barely-skilled juggler following you around trying to impress you.

Let’s say you’re a humanitarian with a “noble” ideal; you want everyone in the country to have free healthcare and medicine. A lofty ambition, some might say. A naive one, others might suggest. To see how removed this goal is from the constraints of reality one only has to ask the question: how will you pay for it? Sure, if you want to accomplish a mission of mercy and help people out of the goodness of your heart with your own hard-earned cash, that’s your choice. If you want to solicit contributions to the same end, such is your decision and that of the contributors. Whether you’d incur enough money to achieve your dream is debatable, so you decide that so noble and moral is your ideal those who chose not to contribute should be made to, at the point of a gun.

Now, whatever your sense of right or wrong, removing the possibility of choice from an action removes any moral implications of that action. Giving money to help others may or may not be moral; a person under duress to do so is being neither moral or immoral, they are doing what they have to, to avoid going to prison, or getting shot. That is about as moral as a slap of concrete.

One other important part of this master plan has been avoided. The most important part. Who is to provide the medicine and healthcare? The drug companies and the doctors. What if a doctor doesn’t wish to see to a patient? What if a doctor or healthcare company doesn’t want to take the risk of a particular operation, or waste their valuable time and resources on somebody (for whatever reason), who for example is constantly submitted with cardiovascular problems and makes no attempt to exercise or quit smoking?

Yaron Brook speaking of the American healthcare system (the principle is the same) says:

“The result of shifting the responsibility for health care costs away from the individuals who accrue them was an explosion in spending.

In a system in which someone else is footing the bill, consumers, encouraged to regard health care as a “right,” demand medical services without having to consider their real price. When, through the 1970s and 1980s, this artificially inflated consumer demand sent expenditures soaring out of control, the government cracked down by enacting further coercive measures: price controls on medical services, cuts to medical benefits, and a crushing burden of regulations on every aspect of the health care system.”

Cutting to the core of the problem, Brook continues:

“The solution to this ongoing crisis is to recognize that the very idea of a “right” to health care is a perversion. There can be no such thing as a “right” to products or services created by the effort of others, and this most definitely includes medical products and services. Rights, as our founding fathers conceived them, are not claims to economic goods, but freedoms of action.

You are free to see a doctor and pay him for his services—no one may forcibly prevent you from doing so. But you do not have a “right” to force the doctor to treat you without charge or to force others to pay for your treatment. The rights of some cannot require the coercion and sacrifice of others.”

The crucial problem with the NHS is that it is an embodiment of a solution to an imaginary problem divorced from the context of reality. The “problem” is that everybody does not have free access to any healthcare they require. But this isn’t actually a problem in the way socialists or collectivists would have us think. And the flaw in their thinking stems from a misguided understanding of right and wrong, that is, morality. What is their flaw? In a word: altruism.

In the altruist morality, the fact that you need something gives you an entitlement to it. It’s as simple as that. This notion is erroneous for many reasons. 1. It is divorced from reality; who will provide what you need, if not yourself? And how will you gain it from them if you cannot exchange value for value in a fair trade? 2. ‘Need’ does not equate to entitlement? 3. Where do you draw the line between all the other “needs” people have, and how? How do you decide which needs will be met with the enforced cooperation of others and which won’t?

The collectivist sees society as a living superbeing in itself, where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few; where those who have “more than enough” should be made to sacrifice for those who don’t have enough. The collectivist has chosen to concentrate on healthcare and medicine, but one needs to ask: should restaurants be made to serve beggars on the street? Should convenience stores be made to provide anti-perspirant for those who can’t afford to stop themselves smelling? Should your closest neighbour with a 10-bedroom house and 2 occupants be forced to give a room to one of your 6-member family in a 3-bedroom house? The “free-thinking” collectivist would like to draw the line at some point after individual rights have been violated, to stop his system moving inexorably to its inevitable corollary: communism.

In a free society, people trade value for value at their choice. Those who acquire wealth do so by exchanging their superior talents for greater money. They acquire what they “deserve” from those who are obligated to provide by a process of mutual cooperation and trade. For example, I reach an agreement with my employer to work for a particular wage. I meet the terms of my contract by attending work every day and doing the job that is required of me, in full. In return, they remunerate me the agreed fee, in full. They have deserved my work and I have deserved my money. The idea that I somehow owe a third party some of that money for the sheer fact that I have acquired it is a total perversion of freedom and morality. At what point and in whose eyes does my hard-earned money reach a point where it’s “too much” and I must pay over the “surplus” to those who haven’t earned it?

No man can make unearned demands on another. Yet the morality of altruism and sacrifice which is the basis for most societal norms states the exact opposite. And the collectivist wants to enforce this “morality” at the point of a gun. And the only way to meet the unearned demands of wanting men is by force; it’s by taking the property of those that have for those that don’t; it’s a gross violation of individual rights – the proper foundation of society – and the only rights that truly exist. Those who violate the rights of others are criminals.

A Right is the freedom to take any action to sustain your life. If your “right” requires the use of force against others, it cannot be a Right. There is no right to healthcare. There is no right to a car. There is no right to a minimum wage. There is no right to love. There is no right to the goods or services of others. You have no right to see a doctor. You have no right to a particular drug or medicine simply because you need it. For example, if you needed a vital operation that only a certain doctor could perform, you have no right to demand any action from him. He is a free individual like any other and value (his services) must be met with value (your services or money). Being unable to pay him is no different from being unwilling to pay him. Whatever you think of his choice to treat you or not, there is no moral obligation in the world that can force him to treat you against his will. If this point still isn’t clear, consider why you should pay for my bus fair if I can’t afford it. Explain why you should pay for my luxury toilet paper when I’m stuck with the non-brand variety. Healthcare and medicine are services like any other that must be acquired by fair legitimate trade; they belong to the doctors and private companies that manufacturer them, and no one can demand the property of others.

In a free society, the true cost of goods is passed onto the consumer, and consumer and supplier can agree on a mutually-acceptable price for a service, neither being sacrificed to the other. People are free to subscribe to a healthcare company of their choosing; open competition will drive down prices fairly and improve service. People are encouraged to look after themselves and incur discounts from healthcare companies, knowing that someone else will not pay for their bad luck or laziness. The overall cost of healthcare is decreased which raises the overall standard for everyone, and increases the availability of even basic services that the poor can afford. More importantly, individual rights are respected and people have a proper view of what they deserve and what they can earn; what is rightfully theirs and what they have to merit; what belongs to them and what doesn’t; and society’s future is invested in the only system that can fully allow humans to flourish and better themselves, generate greater wealth, and increase happiness: capitalism.

48 Responses to “Abolish the Welfare State”

  1. plonkee @ the religious atheist Says:

    Regardless of whether you have the right to any of these things, I prefer to live in a society where healthcare is affordable to individuals. There are many ways of achieving this aim, there are many ways of arranging for free universal healthcare that are more successful than the NHS.

    IMHO, the biggest problem with the NHS is not in the funding but in the provision of services – things can be paid for via taxpayers money without being actually provided by the government. As a random example, you could have your own healthcare account which you can use to access services paying additional sums out of your own pocket should you so desire.

    Many of the problems in having health insurance stem from mass insurers having too much knowledge of the risks to an individuals health, and being able to refuse coverage. If these could be addressed, and also, some way of preventing people dying unnecessarily due to lack of money for basic healthcare, I might be interested.

  2. plaxdan Says:

    This is why socialism is evil. For a great introdution on the difference between rights and privileges and the relationship between rights and property ownership see this video by Michael Badnarik:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8321747074978323622

  3. psiloiordinary Says:

    Not a lot about what the poorly folks who can’t afford treatment should do.

    Not surprisingly.

    My mother in law has had MS since she was young. She has cost the country thousands. Your suggestion is . . .

    - – -

    The fact that something is not perfect does not mean it is wrong and not worthy of us trying to improve it.

    - – -

    Why does your “logic” about healthcare not apply to any kind of centrally administered government agency? The roads? The tax system itself.

    I don’t agree with you that you have the right to choose not to pay tax in a democratic society. You leap from theft being wrong to tax being wrong. You have simply asserted this leap.

    Stand back a bit and look at the end result of your leaps. Think about the next point you should address i.e. what about the poor sick?

    Answers on a postcard . . .

  4. evanescent Says:

    Plonkee said:

    Regardless of whether you have the right to any of these things, I prefer to live in a society where healthcare is affordable to individuals. There are many ways of achieving this aim, there are many ways of arranging for free universal healthcare that are more successful than the NHS.

    I too want to live in a society where healthcare is affordable. But “free” universal healthcare? How? Healthcare is a service. For it to be free for some, it has to cost more from others.

    Wanting free healthcare is like wanting free clothing, free food, free cars, or a job that pays you to lie in bed.

    IMHO, the biggest problem with the NHS is not in the funding but in the provision of services – things can be paid for via taxpayers money without being actually provided by the government.

    What we need to realise is that it’s not the government’s job to redistribute the property of others.

    As a random example, you could have your own healthcare account which you can use to access services paying additional sums out of your own pocket should you so desire.

    Yes I would like this alternative. If all healthcare was private, the true cost of services and medicine could be passed onto the consumer, and people would be rewarded for looking after their bodies.

    Many of the problems in having health insurance stem from mass insurers having too much knowledge of the risks to an individuals health, and being able to refuse coverage.

    Perhaps, but insurance companies have no duty to provide insurance, no more than the restaurant down the road has a responsibility to feed me if I forgot to stock up on food for the holiday period.

    Just like any other insurance, those most at risk would have to pay more. We accept it with cars and home insurance, why not healthcare?

    If these could be addressed, and also, some way of preventing people dying unnecessarily due to lack of money for basic healthcare, I might be interested.

    Capitalism is the only way to allow private business to fully invest in its own technology and success, (without prices being artificially inflated or deflated), which raises the standard of healthcare whilst lowering the cost, bringing it within the affordable range for an ever increasing number of people like the poor.

    Consider that the bare minimum a poor person can afford themselves in America is far better than what a rich person can afford in other countries. This is because of capitalism.

    Capitalism allows private companies to compete with each other in a free market for better services and better prices – all of which benefit the consumer. This is because people are actually paying for what they are actually using.

    Psoloiordinary said:

    Not a lot about what the poorly folks who can’t afford treatment should do.

    The purpose of the article was to highlight the immorality of the welfare state. As for the poor or disabled, they could be cared for by private charity and/or the help of loved ones.

    My mother in law has had MS since she was young. She has cost the country thousands. Your suggestion is . . .

    If you and others who value your mother want to help her, you are free to do so.

    Let me illustrate the flaw in your thinking by being slightly direct, so please don’t take this personally: why should I pay for your mother-in-law? I might choose too, for example, by giving to charity, as many free and wealthy people do. But can you rightfully demand, at the point of a gun, that your mother-in-law’s health is MY burden?

    The fact that something is not perfect does not mean it is wrong and not worthy of us trying to improve it.

    You’re right. But the welfare state shouldn’t be improved, it should be replaced.

    Why does your “logic” about healthcare not apply to any kind of centrally administered government agency? The roads? The tax system itself.

    I could ask you: why does your socialistic system of healthcare not apply to clothes, food etc? Why don’t you put restaurants and burger vans under governmental control to ensure everyone has a free meal when they need it? Or de-privitise a huge department store so the poor can get a free pair of shoes or trousers when they need them?

    I don’t agree with you that you have the right to choose not to pay tax in a democratic society. You leap from theft being wrong to tax being wrong. You have simply asserted this leap.

    I agree. In a democratic society you cannot claim that paying tax is wrong because a democracy is mob rule and whatever the majority decides becomes “right”. In a free society however, one not ruled by majoritarianism, government financing would not come from forced expropriation of private property.

    Stand back a bit and look at the end result of your leaps. Think about the next point you should address i.e. what about the poor sick?

    If you want to take care of the poor and sick, you are free to do so.

    Like I addressed in the article, need does not equal right. I need/want a new car. Who will pay for it? I need/want a job. Who will provide it? I need/want clothes. Who will make them? I need/want a girlfriend. Who will drop her into my lap?

    The idea that the poor or disabled can make unearned demands on those that have, is grossly immoral and one of the evils of socialism, which is rooted on altruistic morality.

    You tend to find psi that the freer and wealthier people are, the more generous they are because they can freely choose to give their money away to help others. As opposed to socialism, where every extra dollar your friend has you observe with envious eyes, and every extra dollar you have is being eyed by someone with less than you. With socialism, you think you have a claim to someone else’s surplus, and someone thinks they have a right to yours just because you have more. It generates envy and resentment; it devalues real work and trade.

  5. Ergo Says:

    “With socialism, you think you have a claim to someone else’s surplus, and someone thinks they have a right to yours just because you have more. It generates envy and resentment; it devalues real work and trade.”

    This is an astute observation, and of course very true of how socialism and communism ravages the psychology of the people under it. Just observe the cultural mentality of the Indians, for example. Sixty years of socialism created a lethargic, risk-averse, saving & hoarding psychology among the general population. Even with increased globalization now in India, many find it difficult to shrug off their socialist mentality and dive into investing, ventures, businesses, etc.

    Beyond that, on a personal level, Indians are generally very suspicious of each other–and for good reason; our culture is dishonest and corrupt to the core; we have the highest levels of corruption, deceit, and loot in the government as well as in the few private sectors. These are the vestiges of the Socialist system that thrives on looting and stealing, for forces the ones who earn their wealth to guard with ferocious zeal and look upon everyone with deep suspicion: the general stance is, “it’s better to con than to be conned.”

    Things are changing now, however, as a new generation of Indians, who have never lived in the Socialist era like their parents did, are now entering the capitalist Indian market.

    Excellent article.

  6. Tom Rees Says:

    Get rid of the welfare state and you will get a populace that turns to god. The inverse correlation between religious conviction and material/social security is consistent and strong across nations and societies. Just a cautionary note for atheists…

  7. evanescent Says:

    @ Ergo, excellent comment, thanks for the kind words.

    @ Tom Rees: I disagree. Form a free society based on individual rights and people will have to resort to their rationality to survive, or die – there will be no one to parasitise off.

    Material and social security is not provided by socialism, it is undermined. Only capitalism respects the Rights of men and allows financial and social security.

    You tend to find that the more religious a country is, the less free it is, because more power is exerted by government over every aspect of life and business. Freedom is inversely proportional to socialism, and the history of capitalism has shown that greater freedom equals greater productivity and wealth. You have no greater living example of this than the United States.

  8. psiloiordinary Says:

    . . . and for the people without relatives to pay for them?

    . . . or who’s relative can’t afford to pay for them?

    My point is that a democratic society can and has decided that you should have to contribute. Why exactly is it that a democratic society should not be able to do this?

    This is what I can’t follow / spot in your case.

    You are effectively jumping from taking people’s money is wrong to the NHS is wrong. How do you substantiate this leap?

    - – -

    You say;
    You tend to find psi that the freer and wealthier people are, the more generous they are because they can freely choose to give their money away to help others. As opposed to socialism, where every extra dollar your friend has you observe with envious eyes, and every extra dollar you have is being eyed by someone with less than you. With socialism, you think you have a claim to someone else’s surplus, and someone thinks they have a right to yours just because you have more. It generates envy and resentment; it devalues real work and trade.

    Any actual evidence for any of this?

    Any at all?

    If not than at least “objectively” admit this is a personal opinion / political bias / personal preference.

  9. evanescent Says:

    Psi said:

    and for the people without relatives to pay for them?

    Private charity. What are you saying, that I should be forced to pay for them?

    or who’s relative can’t afford to pay for them?

    Private charity. What are you saying, that I should be forced to pay for them?

    My point is that a democratic society can and has decided that you should have to contribute. Why exactly is it that a democratic society should not be able to do this?

    What exactly is a democratic society but a region where power is invested in a majority vote. On what right or authority does a democracy rule, except that there happen to a majority of agreeing voices. If a majority where you live decide that you make too much money and decide to deduct your wages to those who are more worthy in their eyes, would you allow this? I wouldn’t. The principle is the same.

    Government should have a very specific and limited role in society: http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/12/28/the-role-of-government/

    You are effectively jumping from taking people’s money is wrong to the NHS is wrong. How do you substantiate this leap?

    I don’t think it’s a leap at all. How else is the NHS paid for, if not with money taken without consent?

    Any actual evidence for any of this?

    You could research this yourself, but here is just one example:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanitarian_response_to_the_2004_Indian_Ocean_earthquake
    The 2004 Tsunami: note which countries gave the most money in charity and compare with your estimate of personal freedom in those countries.

    See Ergo’s comments for life in India, a socialist country. Compare the wealth and generosity of private US citizens to that of all others in the world. Compare the bloom of wealth in the 19th century in the USA and other countries that moved towards capitalism towards the ever-increasing financial and social decline in the socialist UK and other European countries. The evidence is all around you.

  10. Demonweed Says:

    This all makes very good sense until you take the time to earnestly indulge a skeptical perspective about it. It is a fair point to argue that security (be it the sort criminal justice often provides or the sort national defense did in more sane times) is a service that must be paid for. Creating value with that sort of service would be incredibly inefficient (to some extents even impossible) without a major role for collective action. Some police officers may not have pure motives, and many elected officials clearly do not — but vigilantes and mercenaries would be even more destructive if relied upon as the principle means of creating security. Hopefully at least this much is non-controversial here.

    Perhaps extremists will argue about many other issues, like education or infrastructure, based on idealism about unprecedented excellence and/or scope of private sector capabilities in those areas. Still, it seems unreasonable to me to argue that leaving individuals to their own devices in those areas produces better outcomes than collective action.

    This is not merely true in an altruistic sense. Sure, the limousine owner pays more to maintain the highway than the student in a used Geo. However, the limousine rider’s wealth is more easily amplified through shipping goods and/or employee business travel along those roads. Progressive taxes mean that costs are not equal, but inequality of wealth means that potential benefits are not the same across the board either. It may be true that the supermarket entrepreneur or the bus fleet proprietor benefit more (or at least more directly) than the major league athlete or the high end attorney.

    Yet by its nature, capitalism insures that simply having more resources, by opening up more investment opportunity, concentrates benefits along the same lines as progressive taxation concentrates costs. This may not result in absolute metaphysical perfection of balancing individual costs with individual benefits, but it is worlds apart from the Robin Hood paradigm so often wrongly associated with collective action.

    This applies just as well to education. It is more often non-wealthy ideologues than actual wealthy American behind grumbling about the fact that the rich pay more for educational programs that they (having greater access to the top tier of private education) are actually less likely to participate in directly. Most wealthy Americans understand that a “fend for yourselves” attitude about education would drive down overall rates of literacy, numeracy, etc.

    Support for propping up public education is widespread even among the richest Americans because they recognize a reality that does not involve 300,000,000 separate universes for 300,000,000 people. The quality of life they gain directly by elevating levels of basic skills throughout the service sector is much more efficiently obtained by funding public education than by hiring and training a large staff of personal intermediaries. Then there is also an investment issue here too. Productivity (the only non-parasitic way to generate profit) is boosted by funding education as a social service. Then there is the political issue as well — in any society with real civil liberties, better educational outcomes translate into a more sensible and informed electorate.

    Health care can be viewed in a similar light. I don’t believe anyone disputes that it would be ideal if all citizens earned enough to pay their own medical bills and also made optimal decisions regarding personal health care. I do believe it is absurd to suggest that is the inevitable consequence of complete governmental non-interference in the medical sector of the economy. Like it or not, many people face a reality in which regular health maintenance or early treatment for a tolerable condition demand an opportunity cost like forgoing cell phone ownership or doing with cable television. Like it or not, some of those people put modern creature comforts ahead of good medical care. Then there are those faced with such low incomes that household budgets demand a compromises between food or medicine. There really is no ideal outcome for such unfortunate Americans.

    Medicine as a social service promotes superior results in these situations. People who might otherwise languish with serious ailments, generate demand for high cost emergency medicine, then die anyway are people who place a drag on the economy. Timely targeted assistance will not only be a kindness that saves the lives of many of these people — it is also a pragmatic boon that returns many to the labor market. This drives up productivity and/or drives down labor prices, which in turn results in better investment outcomes for the individuals making relatively large payments into the system.

    When opponents of such policies ignore all rationales save the social justice argument, major real practical considerations are swept under the rug. When opponents of such policies bemoan the injustice of compulsory absolute equality of wealth, they demolish a straw man that no earnest thoughtful analyst could possibly link to limited utilitarian state involvement in specific sectors of the economy. Once active in the Libertarian party myself, I understand why these perspectives possess such popular appeal. In light of the beliefs described in this comment, I hope that others may see why these perspectives ought not be so popular.

  11. psiloiordinary Says:

    How is a society without a NHS more free than one with it.

    If you are just counting £’s then you could make this case. If you value people at all then how do you measure one against another?

  12. Favela Cranshaw Says:

    Psi….. : If you value people at all, then how do you justify enslaving them?

  13. psiloiordinary Says:

    Favela;

    Get a grip – How on earth does having an NHS equate to enslaving people?

    Evan;

    Tax = theft seems to be your case. I ask again; please support this.

    You say “private charity”, what about those that charity can not afford to treat?

    Please answer this.

    You also quoted a wiki page to support this claim;
    You tend to find psi that the freer and wealthier people are, the more generous they are because they can freely choose to give their money away to help others. As opposed to socialism, where every extra dollar your friend has you observe with envious eyes, and every extra dollar you have is being eyed by someone with less than you. With socialism, you think you have a claim to someone else’s surplus, and someone thinks they have a right to yours just because you have more. It generates envy and resentment; it devalues real work and trade.
    First of all the number don’t fit with your claims about them.

    Secondly your claims about the numbers don’t support what you were claiming anyway.

    Is this really your best bit of supporting evidence?

    Surely you must have something to back up “wealthier people give more” ? What about as a percentage of income? Do you have any figures for this?

    Why is having a NHS and a welfare state the equivalent to “socialism”?

    On the one hand you say that rich people are more generous anyway, on the other hand you object to a system which enforces contributions from all, and which actually takes less as a percentage from the wealthier in society. Make your mind up.

    Equating tax with theft ignores the value (imperfect as it is) of democracy.

    Sounds a bit like creationists talking about evolution and Hitler. You are making a category error by ignoring one the greatest of human achievements – civilisation, democracy and a safety net which prevents needless deaths.

    - – -

    Once again I ask you to either back up your claims with evidence or badge them as an unsupported personal preference / political bias.

  14. evanescent Says:

    Demonwood said:

    Creating value with that sort of service would be incredibly inefficient (to some extents even impossible) without a major role for collective action. Some police officers may not have pure motives, and many elected officials clearly do not — but vigilantes and mercenaries would be even more destructive if relied upon as the principle means of creating security. Hopefully at least this much is non-controversial here.

    I’m not sure what you’re arguing for demonwood; we need the police and army, and we need a government.

    Still, it seems unreasonable to me to argue that leaving individuals to their own devices in those areas produces better outcomes than collective action.

    Why? The success of capitalism disproves this. Even if it what you said was true, which it isn’t, that would not justify collectivism.

    capitalism insures that simply having more resources, by opening up more investment opportunity, concentrates benefits along the same lines as progressive taxation concentrates costs.

    Capitalism ensures that those who work harder and are more creative and productive reap the rewards; they get wealthier.

    Most wealthy Americans understand that a “fend for yourselves” attitude about education would drive down overall rates of literacy, numeracy, etc.

    How does private education = fend for yourself. This is an unsupported claim. The appalling standards of education in the UK for example don’t example make the national curriculum look too favourable. With private schools competing against each other to win more pupil attendees, standards are raised and prices drop; parents are able to send their children to the best possible school they can afford, without having to pay for other peoples’ children.

    Support for propping up public education is widespread even among the richest Americans because they recognize a reality that does not involve 300,000,000 separate universes for 300,000,000 people.

    Strawman. I think this demonstrates that you’ve completely missed the point.

    Like it or not, many people face a reality in which regular health maintenance or early treatment for a tolerable condition demand an opportunity cost like forgoing cell phone ownership or doing with cable television. Like it or not, some of those people put modern creature comforts ahead of good medical care. Then there are those faced with such low incomes that household budgets demand a compromises between food or medicine. There really is no ideal outcome for such unfortunate Americans.

    And in none of these instances is it the obligation of other people to support the lives of the unfortunate or laziness.

    Poverty and laziness are not cured by cannibalising the wealth of others, and charity is not the cure for poverty. The cure for poverty and laziness is effort; real work; a freer more productive society where those at the very bottom still have a minimum acceptable standard of living – that can be achieved through capitalism.

    When opponents of such policies bemoan the injustice of compulsory absolute equality of wealth, they demolish a straw man that no earnest thoughtful analyst could possibly link to limited utilitarian state involvement in specific sectors of the economy

    The principles of socialism and communism are the same. Socialists want to draw the line somewhere before communism but there is no good reason for them to do so; they draw the line in the wrong place, after rights have been violated.

    Psi said:

    How is a society without a NHS more free than one with it.

    Haven’t I explained this already? The NHS is funded by expropriation; so a country without it is freer than one with it.

    If you are just counting £’s then you could make this case. If you value people at all then how do you measure one against another?

    I am just counting property, because property is a right necessary to a living rational being. I don’t value all people – and that is the point. Not all people are of automatic equal value, because value is a term applicable only another living consciousness. And society is not a living being itself to be valued as one.

    Mrs Bloggs 300 miles away might be unable to get a job, or unwilling. That’s unfortunate, or lazy, I can acknowledge. But I don’t want to support her. I have my own life to live; my own goals to achieve; my own family and friends to value – all of which I value over Mrs Bloggs. Anything I give to Mrs Bloggs is an act of free undeserved charity.

    How on earth does having an NHS equate to enslaving people?

    Because it takes their money at gun point.

    Tax = theft seems to be your case. I ask again; please support this.

    Taking the property of others by force, of those who haven’t initiated the use of force, in other words, those who aren’t criminals, that is, those who haven’t violated the rights of others, is a crime. It’s a crime whether committed by a mugger, or the government. The government does not has a universal right to pass whatever law it wishes. The government is subject to law, not above it. The government should protect Rights and keep the law, not violate them or invent it.

    You say “private charity”, what about those that charity can not afford to treat?

    If YOU want to help these people out, you’re free to do so.

    You also quoted a wiki page to support this claim; First of all the number don’t fit with your claims about them.

    Urm, yes they do – look at how much money American donated compared to the rest of the world.

    Is this really your best bit of supporting evidence? Surely you must have something to back up “wealthier people give more” ? What about as a percentage of income? Do you have any figures for this?

    Here’s another link you might find of interest: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/lif_mem_of_vol_org_cha-lifestyle-members-voluntary-organisations-charity

    And again: http://www.nationmaster.com/red/graph/lif_mem_of_vol_org_cha-lifestyle-members-voluntary-organisations-charity&b_map=1 What do you notice about those countries (in colour) that give charity?? Could they be the more-free more-wealthy countries in the world??

    Here’s a thought experiment for you, psi: compare the wealthiest countries in the world to the poorest. Note how much happier people are the wealthier ones compared to the poorer. Notice the crime rate and the corruption level in both. Notice how much charity is donated on either side. Notice the relevant level of individual freedom in both. Contrast the level of governmental control in the market. Compare Iran to Soviet Russia. Compare Soviet Russia to England. Compare England to the USA. I’m not doing all your thinking for you, think about this for yourself – the results are obvious.

    Why is having a NHS and a welfare state the equivalent to “socialism”?

    The UK is a socialist government! I think you need to read up on this political position.

    On the one hand you say that rich people are more generous anyway, on the other hand you object to a system which enforces contributions from all, and which actually takes less as a percentage from the wealthier in society. Make your mind up.

    Yes, richer freer people are more generous, in practice, and also in self-evident theory: where do you think charity comes from?? The poor don’t give to charity! The less money one has the less one can afford to give away. The more one has, the more one can afford to give away. Just look at Bill Gates. Where the hell do you think charity comes from if not the voluntary donations of those who can afford to give? Therefore the way to encourage more charity is by promoting wealth, not castrating it!
    A forced contribution is mugging. Also, you will find that the wealthier people are taxed more, not less.

    Equating tax with theft ignores the value (imperfect as it is) of democracy.

    Democracy is about as valuable as a heart attack.

    Sounds a bit like creationists talking about evolution and Hitler. You are making a category error by ignoring one the greatest of human achievements – civilisation, democracy and a safety net which prevents needless deaths.

    You are making a category error by equating civilisation with democracy – the two are not synonymous . Democracy is only a form of government, and an immoral form. No one denies that we need government (no one rational anyway), the question is: what type of government? One that respects individual rights, or one that doesn’t?

    A safety net? Whose net? Who is to make the net? At whose expense? Who will pay for it? How will you force them if they don’t want to? And on what authority (apart from majoritarianism) do you claim the right to force them?

  15. guftafs Says:

    psiloiordinary:

    Tax = theft seems to be your case. I ask again; please support this.

    You say “private charity”, what about those that charity can not afford to treat?

    Please answer this.

    Well, suppose I, after having considered what the tax money is spent on, decide not to pay taxes anymore, or only a fraction of it. What will happen? A letter will drop into my letter box, asking why I haven’t paid. I will reply, saying I disagree with government policy. The retort will inevitably be, “Pay, or else”. Fines, imprisonment, at gun point. If it weren’t at gun point, I’d just tell them to shove it and that would be it.

    Re “private charity” and those that charity cannot afford to treat? Yes, what about them? Did I cause their misery? Did you? How exactly are we indebted to them? Explain this, please.

  16. Psiloiordinary Says:

    Gutfas;

    Thank you for showing the depth of your humanity and civilisation. This is not an exercise in logic you know we are talking about real people.

    You seem to be saying that you simply don’t care and you don’t respect the rule of law in a democracy.

    Go live in the Lord of the Flies then.

    Yuk.

    Give me an (imperfect) democracy with an NHS and the welfare state over your everyman for himself, let the helpless die and suffer, might and power is right set up any day.

    Evan;

    You dismiss democratic government in a free society as Majoritanarianism.

    You have failed to show any evidence other than repeat your own biases and prejudices.

    I rest my case.

    Psi

  17. evanescent Says:

    Psi, that is a cop out, pure and simple. You have not addressed the points I have raised and you have dismissed my replies because you don’t like them, not because you have exposed any flaw with them. You have presented no case to rest, and your argument is guided by emotionalism, not reason.

    You dismiss democratic government in a free society as Majoritanarianism.

    It is!

    You seem to be saying that you simply don’t care and you don’t respect the rule of law in a democracy.

    Why should we respect democracy?

    Your emotionalism shows through again, and you blatantly avoided Gutfas’ question:

    “Re “private charity” and those that charity cannot afford to treat? Yes, what about them? Did I cause their misery? Did you? How exactly are we indebted to them? Explain this, please.”

    Look psi, if you really care that much about helping people, who is stopping you?? I like to help people too. My problem is when other people like you decide that I SHOULD, that I have a DUTY, and if enough of you get together and decide to redistribute my wealth at your whim, that makes it ok? I don’t think so.

    In any event, it is clear that your intention here is not to argue through this issue logically and rationally, but rather show your emotional commitment to a political position that you cannot defend.

  18. guftafs Says:

    Psioliordinary:

    Gutfas;

    Thank you for showing the depth of your humanity and civilisation. This is not an exercise in logic you know we are talking about real people.

    You seem to be saying that you simply don’t care and you don’t respect the rule of law in a democracy.

    Go live in the Lord of the Flies then.

    Yuk.

    Give me an (imperfect) democracy with an NHS and the welfare state over your everyman for himself, let the helpless die and suffer, might and power is right set up any day.

    Actually, we are closer to Lord of the Flies gang rule than I expect you’d care to admit. If the justification for putting a gun to my head and demand I pay is “Because we are in the majority” (democracy), how far away are we from directing the gun at some unpopular group just because we can? (democracy) How is either case civilized? Might makes right. Ugh.

  19. psiloiordinary Says:

    OK folks, lets be honest here. These arguments of yours sound like the kind of thing my grandad fought the second world war over.

    Evan, read your answers to my questions, I have repeated my questions several times – you have not addressed them at all. Can you support any of your bold claims with any evidence at all?

    Third time lucky?

    We are human beings and a major part f being human is emotion, a major part is caring for others.

    If you folks don’t believe in democracy then you are lining up alongside you worst excesses of both ends of the political spectrum.

    What social structure do you guys actually favour? No taxes, so no laws or law enforcement, no justice apart from that of might is right.

    - – -

    No one can prove on a piece of paper that democracy is better at protecting most of he people most of the time for logical reasons, but the empirical evidence is there for all to see.

    Are you off to live in an armed stockade in the mountains? Taking people as slaves just because you want to? I mean, how do you know it is wrong?

    We can judge right form wrong in the context of human experience and compassion.

    If you folks don’t care about the sick or vulnerable then I pity you for your lives and I worry for those around you, you are not experiencing the full richness of the human condition.

    - – -

    Is this just right wing tax cutting fundamentalism?

    Is it anarchism?

    Seems self contradictory, shallow, silliness to me.

  20. evanescent Says:

    I have answered your questions Psi. Your inability to accept the answer does not constitute an evasion on my part. Did you see the links I provided? Did you see my comment about where charity comes from?? Go back and re-read please.

    We are human beings and a major part f being human is emotion, a major part is caring for others.

    Don’t we get to CHOOSE who we care for?

    What social structure do you guys actually favour? No taxes, so no laws or law enforcement, no justice apart from that of might is right.

    Now you’re talking! What social structure do I favour? Universal freedom with a government that protects individuals rights. That’s it.

    Of course we need law and law enforcement. The question is: where does that money come from? That is the START of the debate, not the end.

    No one can prove on a piece of paper that democracy is better at protecting most of he people most of the time for logical reasons, but the empirical evidence is there for all to see.

    I am not interesting in protecting “most” of the people “most” of the time. That is exactly the kind of thinking that utilitarianism, collectivism, and socialism is based on. That is what Objectivism rejects. It is an invalid immoral starting point.

    Now, the only Rights that exist are individual rights. All forms of government in human history have violated Rights to some extent. The worst examples being Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia (both socialist, incidentally). The United States is the best form of government we’ve had so far, although it’s not perfect. In my article I provided links to other articles about government and individual rights. If you’re genuinely interested in discovering the proper nature of rights and politics, I suggest you read them.

    We can judge right from wrong in the context of human experience and compassion.

    These things are the END RESULT of our course of action though, they are not the standard by which to decide right from wrong. In other words: the ends do not justify the means.

    If you folks don’t care about the sick or vulnerable then I pity you for your lives and I worry for those around you, you are not experiencing the full richness of the human condition.

    Have you listened to a word I’ve said? I have avoided saying much about what I care for, for precisely this point: it’s irrelevant! Now, this thinking of yours is symptomatic of a very cynical attitude toward other people, something you accuse us of!

    Do people like you think: “I’m not convinced I would look after people if I didn’t have to, so other people wouldn’t either!”?? You see, I actually have confidence in the human race. I actually think that the freer people are, the wealthier they are, and the more generous they are. (If you doubt this, I ask you: where do you think charity comes from?? The rich or the poor??)

    All this aside, no one has a moral obligation to sustain the life of another. How do you justify the position that other peoples’ bad luck or laziness is MY burden, or anyone else’s?

    So I’ll say it again: if YOU want to look after people, YOU’RE free to do so. YOU’RE free to start your own charity. YOU can do as much as you want. But don’t demand that you have the moral right to take other peoples’ money against their will at the point of a gun.

    Is this just right wing tax cutting fundamentalism?

    Is it anarchism?

    No, and no.

    Now, can you justify your position by answering my questions?

  21. guftafs Says:

    psiloiordinary Says:

    We are human beings and a major part f being human is emotion, a major part is caring for others.

    Accepting your premise, how does that lead to sticking a gun to everyone’s temple and say “Pay, or else?” Not very caring, if you want my opinion.

    If you folks don’t believe in democracy then you are lining up alongside you worst excesses of both ends of the political spectrum.

    No, I don’t believe in democracy, as in unlimited majority rule. Bad things happen, such as Socrates being voted to death, or the Jews being “sent eastwards to work … or whatever.” Today “democracy” is used in a vague way to denote what’s positive with our society, but the original meaning is the one that means something. Look how disastrously wrong things can go in democracies, where unlimited majority vote decides: Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon.

    What social structure do you guys actually favour? No taxes, so no laws or law enforcement, no justice apart from that of might is right.

    As Evanescent said, a state that protects our individual rights, our inalienable rights, our not-to-be-voted-away rights, our rights to life, liberty and property. That would entail a state smaller by several magnitudes than today’s bloated welfare bureaucracy but strong on law, order and defence. I don’t know how it would be financed, smarter men than me will have to figure that one out. The basic issue about the nature of state and its limits must have been cleared before that issue becomes relevant.

    - – -

    No one can prove on a piece of paper that democracy is better at protecting most of he people most of the time for logical reasons, but the empirical evidence is there for all to see.

    Are you off to live in an armed stockade in the mountains? Taking people as slaves just because you want to? I mean, how do you know it is wrong?

    We can judge right form wrong in the context of human experience and compassion.

    I don’t see how “don’t violate my rights” can lead to “I endorse slavery” (a gross violation of rights). You criticized me for being logical earlier. I can’t say the same about you. Perhaps more logic isn’t a bad thing. We are after all talking about real people in the real world, where real things happen.

    If you folks don’t care about the sick or vulnerable then I pity you for your lives and I worry for those around you, you are not experiencing the full richness of the human condition.

    Please spare us the “pregnant teenager” argument. Are you denying us the right to choose upon whom we want to lay our sympathies or not? Again, the gun at our temples, and the command “Care, or else?”

  22. Ben Says:

    Quit saying “at the point of a gun” for crying out load. It’s not a saying.

  23. Égoïste Says:

    Have you studied the idea of “negative rights” in any depth? I believe that the application of this idea to the concept of “rights” in general leads us to a better argument against statists in general, and welfare statists in particular. For instance, man does not have a right to a living. He has a right to not be restrained from acting in order to make a living. As Ye Olde Wikipedia says:

    Negative rights may be used to justify political rights such as freedom of speech, property, habeas corpus, freedom from violent crime, freedom of worship, a fair trial, freedom from slavery and the right to bear arms. Positive rights may be used to justify public education, health care, social security or a minimum standard of living.

    The concept of negative rights seems to be valid in the face of reason, and can’t be used by welfare statists to pick one’s pocket at the point of a gun. I’m all about that. :)

  24. psiloiordinary Says:

    Anyone read “Why people believe weird things” by Michael Shermer?

  25. Tom Rees Says:

    Evanescant: the stats are clear strength of religion and welfare state are inversely correlated in multinational assessments. Your argument:

    “You tend to find that the more religious a country is, the less free it is, because more power is exerted by government over every aspect of life and business.”

    Actually runs counter to the free-market based ‘rational choice’ theory, which was proposed to explain the relative *strength* of religion in the US compared with Europe. In the US, so the theory goes, religious freedom leads to increased choice leads to increased uptake.

    But in fact you can explain approx 50% of international variation in religious belief (after controlling for per capita GDP) by simply looking at factors such as income inequality, life expectancy, infant mortality, homicide rates etc.

    These are all worse in the US than in Europe, and this ‘existential stress’ explains why so many people there turn to religion.

  26. Darren Says:

    Someone once said:

    “It is in our selfish interest to cultivate a society where people care for each other, within their means, with no one being sacrificed to anyone.”

    Seems like a good defence of the welfare state. Now, if only I could remember who said that…

  27. evanescent Says:

    Darren, you cannot seriously be using that as an argument in favour of the welfare state? You have overlooked the most important point: free choice. I’m really not sure how you could pick that one sentence of mine out, and ignore everything else?

    Yes, it is in my rational self-interest to be generous and kind to people. However, I get to CHOOSE who the beneficiaries of my actions are. And being kind and generous does not mean I should live other peoples’ lives for them, or support them by MY work.

    Another thing you’ve overlooked is this: even if it was moral and right to redistribute wealth (which it most certainly is not), that would STILL not justify enforcing such a system. Why? Because where force is present, free choice isn’t. Where free choice isn’t present, morality is impossible. To “enforce” a chosen moral action is a contradiction of the most staggering degree.

    @ Tom, America is a very religious country, but its great individual freedom can be explained because of the Constitution which is supposed to protect individual Rights. America flourishes because of capitalism IN SPITE of religion. It is not religious freedom that can be tied to capitalism, it is ANY freedom. Freedom of action includes religious freedom, so let’s be sure we’re correlating the right cause and effect. For example, the UK is far less religious than America, but it’s also less free, which is why it’s less capitalistic.

    The religious in America are doing their best to subvert the Constitution unfortunately. Now, in other countries that do not guarantee individual Rights, the more religious the country the greater the leaning toward totalitarianism (of course you can have totalitarianism without religion however, e.g. China). Countries in the Middle-East are very religious, not because they are FREE, but precisely because they aren’t, and apostasy is met with death. And this lack of freedom shows itself in moral and financial bankruptcy.

    Individual rights in America are not respected to the level that they should be, but if these Rights were rolled back as some fundamentalists would like to happen, America would no doubt descend into socialistic state-control (it has already slided that way in the last 100 hundred years or so).

  28. Ergo Says:

    ABC News anchor, John Stossel, very nicely sums up the issue of enforced charity:

    “sharing can’t be a basis for production — you can’t share what hasn’t been produced. My point is that production and prosperity require property rights. Property rights associate effort with benefits.
    Where benefits are unrelated to effort, people do the least amount necessary to get by while taking the most they can get. Economists have a pithy way of summing up this truth: No one washes a rental car.”

    He goes on to provide an empirical example demonstrating how property rights engenders accountability, responsibility, rationality, and eventually, prosperity. At the end of his example of the poaching of elephants in Africa, he concludes as follows:

    “Zimbabwe tried property rights. Kenya tried prohibition. Kenya lost elephants while Zimbabwe gained them. The pattern is clear. Property equals responsibility equals prosperity.”

    Read his entire article, including his demonstration of the principle of the morality of capitalism, here:
    http://www.theatlasphere.com/columns/stossel-tragedy-commons.php

  29. heather Says:

    This post is so far beyond nonsense that I will be charitable and assume it’s a joke, right?

  30. evanescent Says:

    Hi Heather, which part of the article or the 29 comments that I assume you read in full did you think was nonsense, and why? Unless you can justify your position properly, philosophically and morally, I will dismiss your comment as the waste of time it appears.

  31. psiloiordinary Says:

    Come on Evan,

    You still haven’t answered my questions.

    - – -

    So lets try to get to the heart of your position.

    Do you believe in democratic government or not?

  32. evanescent Says:

    Psi said:

    Do you believe in democratic government or not?

    No. This is clear from everything I’ve written, and the other articles I pointed you to. I assume you’ve not read them.

    You still haven’t answered my questions.

    Psi, I don’t know what conversation you’ve been following but it’s not this one. All your questions have been answered, and mine to you remain outstanding. I don’t have the greatest confidence that your interest here is honest intellectual debate, but rather emotional defense of your vested biases.

  33. psiloiordinary Says:

    So do you believe in Law and Order?

  34. evanescent Says:

    For other readers, here is a list of questions asked of Psi that he is yet to answer:

    - But “free” universal healthcare? How? Healthcare is a service. For it to be free for some, it has to cost more from others.

    - Just like any other insurance, those most at risk would have to pay more. We accept it with cars and home insurance, why not healthcare?

    - why should I pay for your mother-in-law? I might choose too, for example, by giving to charity, as many free and wealthy people do. But can you rightfully demand, at the point of a gun, that your mother-in-law’s health is MY burden?

    - why does your socialistic system of healthcare not apply to clothes, food etc? Why don’t you put restaurants and burger vans under governmental control to ensure everyone has a free meal when they need it? Or de-privitise a huge department store so the poor can get a free pair of shoes or trousers when they need them?

    - Like I addressed in the article, need does not equal right. I need/want a new car. Who will pay for it? I need/want a job. Who will provide it? I need/want clothes. Who will make them? I need/want a girlfriend. Who will drop her into my lap?

    - Private charity. What are you saying, that I should be forced to pay for them?

    - How else is the NHS paid for, if not with money taken without consent?

    Favela Cranshaw also asked:

    -If you value people at all, then how do you justify enslaving them?

    Psi asked: “Still, it seems unreasonable to me to argue that leaving individuals to their own devices in those areas produces better outcomes than collective action.

    To which I asked:
    -Why? The success of capitalism disproves this. Even if it what you said was true, which it isn’t, that would not justify collectivism.

    I’ve since asked:

    -What do you notice about those countries (in colour) that give charity?? Could they be the more-free more-wealthy countries in the world??

    -where do you think charity comes from?? The poor don’t give to charity! The less money one has the less one can afford to give away.

    -No one denies that we need government (no one rational anyway), the question is: what type of government? One that respects individual rights, or one that doesn’t?

    -A safety net? Whose net? Who is to make the net? At whose expense? Who will pay for it? How will you force them if they don’t want to? And on what authority (apart from majoritarianism) do you claim the right to force them?

    And then Guftafs asked:
    -Well, suppose I, after having considered what the tax money is spent on, decide not to pay taxes anymore, or only a fraction of it. What will happen? A letter will drop into my letter box, asking why I haven’t paid. I will reply, saying I disagree with government policy. The retort will inevitably be, “Pay, or else”. Fines, imprisonment, at gun point. If it weren’t at gun point, I’d just tell them to shove it and that would be it.

    Re “private charity” and those that charity cannot afford to treat? Yes, what about them? Did I cause their misery? Did you? How exactly are we indebted to them? Explain this, please.

    And then I asked some more questions:
    -Why should we respect democracy?

    -Look psi, if you really care that much about helping people, who is stopping you?? I like to help people too. My problem is when other people like you decide that I SHOULD, that I have a DUTY, and if enough of you get together and decide to redistribute my wealth at your whim, that makes it ok?

    -Don’t we get to CHOOSE who we care for?

    -Of course we need law and law enforcement. The question is: where does that money come from? That is the START of the debate, not the end.

    -Do people like you think: “I’m not convinced I would look after people if I didn’t have to, so other people wouldn’t either!”?? You see, I actually have confidence in the human race. I actually think that the freer people are, the wealthier they are, and the more generous they are. (If you doubt this, I ask you: where do you think charity comes from?? The rich or the poor??)

    -How do you justify the position that other peoples’ bad luck or laziness is MY burden, or anyone else’s?

    -Now, can you justify your position by answering my questions?

    I don’t know what thread Psi is following, but he seems to think he can make accusations based on philosophical ignorance and emotionalism. Notice how he evades all the questions put to him, and demands answers from everyone else? Notice how his responses to everyone else’s well-written and long comments are short dismissals and red herrings, followed by MORE questions of his own?

    If you want me to continue this discussion Psi, you will have to demonstrate the common courtesy of actually reading my responses, and then answering everyone’s questions before you present new ones of your own.

    If you don’t do this, you are clearly not here for an honest intellectual discussion.

  35. Psiloiordinary Says:

    Hey man,

    Its your blog – if you don’t want to answers questions just say you won’t.

    I am questioning the position you have put up and it seems to me that my respect for democracy as being the best way yet to organise society answers all of those points above – which I why I wanted to check I had it straight that you don’t?

    So do you believe in law and order?

    How should society be organised?

    You have commented that the welfare state is wrong and thinking about what you say has lead me to the key difference between our positions being the one about democracy. That leads neatly on to law and order.

    Do you believe in law and order?

    How should justice be best served?

    What is your alternative to democracy?

    Anarchy? Dictatorship? Something else? What?

  36. evanescent Says:

    See my remarks in comment 20:

    Now you’re talking! What social structure do I favour? Universal freedom with a government that protects individuals rights. That’s it.

    I did also point you here as well, which is a more appropriate place to discuss government: http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/12/28/the-role-of-government/

    Its your blog – if you don’t want to answers questions just say you won’t.

    Is anyone keeping track of the red herrings?

    Now, this thread is not necessarily about democracy, it is about socialism. A socialist regime can be implemented in a democracy (the UK), or communist government (China, or Soviet Russia), or fascist regime (Nazi Germany). Socialism is the root problem that is behind the welfare state, and socialism is predicated on the moral premises of altruism. By rejecting altruism in the article, everything else follows, which is why socialism is evil and the welfare state wrong.

    Any governmental comments you have you’re welcome to make on the other article I’ve shown. As for this discussion, the ball is now in your court to answer my questions.

  37. psiloiordinary Says:

    Red herrings?

    - – -

    “Free at the point of use” – the actual principle under which the NHS was launched.

    The other points are answered by my belief in democracy I think.

    What is your definition of socialism?

    - – -

    Will you answer the law and order question here or on the other thread?

    - – -

    A government but no taxes and no voting?

  38. evanescent Says:

    The NHS is not free, because there is no option to opt out of it. This is the problem with all expropriation.

    I won’t give you a definition of socialism, I will politely leave this to readers to research for themselves.

    The law and order question I will answer in the other thread, same for taxes and voting.

  39. Shaun Says:

    Ah, well said, as usual! I heartily enjoyed it. Keep up the good work.

  40. psiloiordinary Says:

    Hi Evan,

    How can I research what it is that you think socialism is? Have you covered it on another thread? Do you go with one of the mainstream dictionary definitions?

    Why won’t you give us your opinion? You have waxed lyrical on the evils of something but won’t tell us what you think it is?

    Give us a chance man – I am trying to understand what you are saying.

    Psi

  41. audaciousman Says:

    I’m finding a lot of intelligent stuff in your blog, enjoying the exploration, but I am new to objectivism and perhaps I’m missing something.

    You seem to contradict yourself. Any argument against the existence of free-to-the-public health care is equally valid against tax-funded police, government and armies, which you claim we need. I point you to this quote of yours…

    “Healthcare and medicine are services like any other that must be acquired by fair legitimate trade; they belong to the doctors and private companies that manufacturer them, and no one can demand the property of others.”

    …and point out that we can replace “healthcare and medicine” with any service, including policing and army-ing.

    It is totally understandable if you look at something as relatively inexpensive as a bus fare or clothing and say that perhaps one should get those things oneself. It is silly to compare those things, or “luxury toilet paper,” to the much larger expense and requirement for life and happiness of health care. Suggesting that they are the same is not rational.

    I guess it all comes to this obviously untrue proposition…

    “Being unable to pay [the doctor] is no different from being unwilling to pay [the doctor].”

    …in that of course there is a difference. The difference being the nature of the service the doctor has chosen to provide. If he holds the exclusive knowledge of how to prevent a death, it is not his right to withhold that knowledge should a situation arise which requires it. He chose to take on that responsibility when he chose his profession in exactly the same way that a police officer chose to take on the responsibility to protect and serve when he chose his.

    If a doctor can prevent death and choses not to because of a matter of the poverty level of the dying, he commits murder. If a doctor has the ability to assist an amputee in restoring the use of the missing limb through a mechanical appendage, and doesn’t because of the poverty level of the amputee, he actively prevents that person from being her full self in the society, which is destructive. The list can go on.

    The doctor has made the choice already, in accordance with his right to do so, to provide health care for his society. The only reasonable way to pay for such a blanket service is to do so through a governmental agency, just like the police you say, rightly, that we need.

    (My most strongly held opinion is that I may very well be wrong, and certainly I must be to some extent about a worldview with which I have so little experience. Just fyi.)

  42. evanescent Says:

    Audaciousman said:

    You seem to contradict yourself. Any argument against the existence of free-to-the-public health care is equally valid against tax-funded police, government and armies, which you claim we need. I point you to this quote of yours…

    Hi again Audaciousman – we do need these institutions but they are not to be provided by tax either and I never said they were – apologies if this wasn’t clear.

    It is totally understandable if you look at something as relatively inexpensive as a bus fare or clothing and say that perhaps one should get those things oneself. It is silly to compare those things, or “luxury toilet paper,” to the much larger expense and requirement for life and happiness of health care. Suggesting that they are the same is not rational.

    Actually, to suggest we can violate a principle when the matter involves become “more expensive” is irrational. The principle that makes the redistribution of wealth wrong applies to EVERYTHING. It is immoral for your wealth to be forcibly removed and given to somebody for a bus ticket or a liver transplant. No man can make unearned demands on another – and violating individual rights is a crime no matter who does; man or government.

    in that of course there is a difference. The difference being the nature of the service the doctor has chosen to provide. If he holds the exclusive knowledge of how to prevent a death, it is not his right to withhold that knowledge should a situation arise which requires it. He chose to take on that responsibility when he chose his profession in exactly the same way that a police officer chose to take on the responsibility to protect and serve when he chose his.

    Actually you’re completely wrong here – the doctor like any other professional has chosen to pursue a career and get paid for it. In order to provide a service he should be paid for it. He has ABSOLUTELY NO DUTY to provide ANYTHING free of charge. He incurs no responsibility to work for free simply because another person NEEDS something.

    By your thinking, has a restaurant owner taken on the duty to feed people – even those who can’t pay?? Of course not! You wouldn’t demand a restaurant owner be forced to feed beggars off the street, so why should a doctor be forced to sacrifice his means of survival for those who can’t reimburse him? The principle is the same, and to single out the medical profession or police service is an egregious act of discrimination. It is this view that some professions OWE something to US, although we have not earned it that is at the heart of socialism – which you appear to sympathise with – and which my article explicitly denounces.

    If a doctor can prevent death and choses not to because of a matter of the poverty level of the dying, he commits murder. If a doctor has the ability to assist an amputee in restoring the use of the missing limb through a mechanical appendage, and doesn’t because of the poverty level of the amputee, he actively prevents that person from being her full self in the society, which is destructive. The list can go on.

    I disagree. Not giving up your own property to someone who has NO right to it is not a crime. By this thinking, those who have NOT EARNED and those that have NOT DESERVED have a right to the property of others, simply because they NEED it! But this is of course a contradiction of the entire concepts of “earn” and “merit”. If you cannot obtain something by legitimate means, i.e.: free voluntary trade – you do not deserve it. It doesn’t matter if you need it or not.

    Again, by your thinking, the restaurant owner or burger-van operator who operates his business whilst the beggars on the street starve, is guilty of murder – which is of course absurd.

    The doctor has made the choice already, in accordance with his right to do so, to provide health care for his society. The only reasonable way to pay for such a blanket service is to do so through a governmental agency, just like the police you say, rightly, that we need.

    The doctor has chosen to pursue a career, which is his right. To take advantage of the doctor’s services, you have to pay. The doctor should not work for free, and if he chooses not to work on any particular case that’s HIS right and choice.

    That is why the welfare state is immoral and evil – because in the guise of good intentions, it violates individual rights as a matter of course.

  43. Jersey Says:

    My problem with welfare is that we just keep giving people money. Just giving money will NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM!!! Instead of just throwing money to us poor folk, about offer us job skills and such so we are able to find better blue-collar jobs, better restaurant positions, and such?

    “Feed a man a fish, he is fed for the day. Teach a man to fish, and he is fed for a lifetime.”

  44. evanescent Says:

    Hi Jersey, well put. The cure to poverty is not charity, it is production.

    The freer people are, the more creative and productive they are – the richer they become, competition increases, price decreases, the cost of goods goes down whilst the standard of living goes up, and an increasing number of modern conveniences become affordable to an increasing number of poorer people. The only system that fully recognises this fact is Capitalism – which requires ultimate liberation from the constraints of State control, viz, socialism and the welfare state.

    As such, the welfare state is not only the immoral, it is the impractical – because it artifically strangles human production, and punishes creativity whilst rewarding laziness – nothing could be diametrically opposed to the true metaphysical nature of man.

  45. Demonweed Says:

    Umm . . . do we have anything other than pontifications from ideologues to other ideologues to support this notion? Yes, I understand if you are a by-the-book anarcho-capitalist then you have a religious duty to insist that welfare creates dependence and the world would become Candyland incarnate if only all welfare programs were abolished. Yet does anyone bother to ask where reality comes down on this issue?

    Europe offers a range of examples in this area. It is also fertile ground for comparison because policies are enacted in the context of a relatively stable and prosperous society. Now, it is possible to practice willful blindness, looking only to the complaints of their assorted political right wings in order to assess that Sweden and Holland and France and so on are all just the tiniest little downturn away from utter economic collapse. Then again, looking only to the complaints of one flavor of ideologue pretty much assures a misguided perspective.

    If we look at the actual numbers, not even the most paternalistic of modern nations is as overwhelmed by irresponsible spending as the United States already is. If we look at the actual numbers, the real growth (economic growth adjusted to factor out population growth) is respectable. These nations are not forced into collapse by idleness or underachievement. In short, these things so many anarcho-capitalists are absolutely convinced could not possibly work do actually work.

    Now, there is a valid argument that some measure of this spending is wasteful. If the Netherlands did not allow indigent adults to apply for a benefit of 12 beers per week, most likely they would save more defunding the program than would be spent dealing with the minor uptick in alcohol-related robberies.

    Then again, it is also a valid argument that here we waste human beings in order to avoid spending money. The “pragmatic” arguments advanced by anarcho-capitalists tend to rest much more on this blind faith in the gospel of Randian nonsense than any sort of actual economic efficiency produced by setting our fellow Americans out in the cold. We spend more cleaning up the messes emergent from feeble social policy than it would take to prevent many of those messes.

    Of course, we could take this to the extreme of abolishing all spending that was not related to criminal justice or national defense, yet that approach hardly seems likely to produce a paradise of economic achievement. We have the passionate conviction of people who are emotionally attached to anarcho-capitalist ideals on one hand, but on the other hand we have the unfortunate reality that when basic human needs go unfulfilled the result is invariably dramatic increases in contagion, violence, and all sorts of other phenomena that are make economic success stories much more difficult to actualize.

    In the end all that really props up hostility to the entire notion of welfare spending is the perverse satisfaction that comes from the warmth of hatred. Vast tides of earnest hard-working laborers are villainized by those duped into believing “anchor babies” are the normal reason for illegal immigration. Millions of Americans facing very real economic hardship, often through no fault of their own, are swept under the rug so that venom can be keenly focused on the thousands responsible for gaming the system.

    I understand and accept that some people believe humanity is defined by property. I get that some people think being forced to pay taxes is just as horrific as being forced to swear loyalty to a tyrant or being forbidden to give voice to beliefs one holds dear. I do not agree. To me, a human being who is no threat to others deserves an incredible amount of respect. To me, it is a horrible mistake when people place property or even proprietary agreements in the same category of importance as actual human beings.

    The problem as I see it is merely that some people are incredibly resistant to any information suggesting that the morality of collective economic action is not at all the same as the morality of political tyranny. For some there is an irresistible urge to confuse the mere existence of civic institutions universal in scope (and non-free in cost) with non-silly concepts of oppression. Until that can be addressed, I suspect true believers will return again and again to their “socialism is unworkable” mantra even ironclad contrary evidence is well within the grasp of any halfway-interested and marginally-literate thinker. Still, it would be a nice start if that fiction were dispensed with so that clash could focus on the more meaningful matter of why it is that some people sincerely espouse a doctrine tantamount to “sanctity of property”

  46. evanescent Says:

    Demonweed, your irrational distaste for Ayn Rand aside, here is an excellent article by Peikoff on the welfare state: http://afcm.org/hcinar.html. If you want to be taken seriously here, I would suggest cutting out the personal snipes at Rand.

    Nothing you have said really touches the merit of my article.

    Humanity is not defined by property, like your strawman suggests. Property IS a necessary Right of human beings, it is a right from which everything else follows. You cannot deny this.

    Now it seems to me that you and your kind would like to draw the line of what is acceptable AFTER right have been violated – but this is a contradiction. You either have rights or you don’t. You cannot deny this.

    Nothing you have said here touches the principles that: property is a necessary right of all men; no one has the right to violate your property and take it without your consent. You cannot deny this.

    Without going into the evils of socialism which my article covers, or the impracticalities of it, which my article also covers, your political and social agenda can be seen clearly: you think the redistribution of wealth is good. Ok, fine, if you really believe this, give your money away to other people, to whoever you want. But oh no, that’s not enough for you, what you want is governmental power to ENFORCE your dogma at the point of a gun. It’s not enough to say “we should share our wealth”, you have to add “or else” at the end. This is why socialism is evil. It is not evil to want to help people or give to charity, but socialism is a lie – it is the violation of human rights for a non-existence collectivist entity, on a bankrupt immoral position called “utilitarianism” that PUNISHES the creative and rewards the non-creative, all in the guise of helping people! Nothing you have said here refutes that one iota.

  47. What is Objectivism? « evanescent Says:

    [...] Obviously the religious would object to Objectivism because Objectivism is a rational reality-based philosophy that rejects anything supernatural.  But many of the people I used to identify with, atheists, and those who follow Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett etc (The Big Four, like I used to) that I shall refer to as the New Atheists, are not Objectivists and disagree with Rand.  Disagree is a weak word.  I have encountered positive bile and venom towards Objectivism from the same people who accuse theists of it.  The same people who would applaud me for criticising religion and theism would spit hatred when I criticised THEIR cherished political beliefs, such as the welfare state. [...]

  48. Willmott Says:

    And increasing more


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