… To me, watching out for those who need it most is one of the great ends of society. It’s a duty we can’t ignore. (And this is one of the places where my politics are religiously informed. The whole loving of the neighbor and honoring of the fathers and mothers isn’t particularly negotiable). Maybe I can offer a clear answer to Bart’s question on how much we should be willing to spend to care for those who need it:
As much as it takes. Everything, if need be. …
But if we spend “everything” for the poor, what would we have left for the “sick”? And if we save some for the “sick,” then which illness, disease, or injury gets more?
It’s easy to be “generous” with other people’s wealth. It’s also easy to be wasteful. You do not occupy the moral high ground by couching your threats of violence as noble altruism.
You paraphrased Hinkle’s assertion that there be a “ceiling” on what’s given to the poor as: “Fuck it. Taking care of others is just too hard.” Perhaps an equitable paraphrase of your position would be: “Fuck it. It’s much easier to address my priorities if I put a gun to everyone’s head.” Because that is what you are pushing for, ultimately.
My position is, essentially, the middle ground - that there be no floor or ceiling on charitable giving. Or, rather, that each individual decides his or her priorities, and determines how much or how little to give to what charities with no third party setting any limits.
This not only minimizes the use of force to right societal wrongs, it also maximizes the efficiency of how those wrongs are righted.
We shouldn’t be surprised by the ever-growing costs of entitlements. As more money is funneled in this way, more cronies find ways to make the bludgeon of government work in their favor. And with greater bureaucracy and greater distance between the purported beneficiary and his benefactor, there naturally comes less efficiency and accountability.
The question isn’t simply “how much should we spend for the poor,” but how should we spend it.
Unlike individuals expending their own wealth by employing their own subjective valuations, the state is inherently incapable of achieving value and efficiency.
There are four ways money may be spent:
- Spend your own money on yourself. When you spend your own money on yourself, you make sure that you get exactly what you want and that you get the most bang for your buck (obviously, it is your hard-earned wealth and you would logically not wish to waste it).
e.g. From the television in your living room to the juice in your refrigerator.
- Spend your own money on someone else. Here, you are still concerned about getting the most bang for your buck, but you are not as careful about what you get.
e.g. A holiday gift for your company’s gift exchange.
- Spend someone else’s money on yourself. Since no one knows better than you what exactly you want, you are then uniquely capable of doing so - but you are not as concerned about saving or being efficient with the money.
e.g. A lunch on the company’s expense account.
- Spend someone else’s money on someone else. In this situation, the spender is less concerned with both efficiency and value …
e.g. All government spending (that is, when cronies, politicians, and bureaucrats don’t find ways to grease their palms in the process, which is #3).
Government is not only inefficient, but there is even incentive to be inefficient - a government agency that fails always has the same solution: increase its budget! Further, there is no way that a favored few - no matter how angelic or intelligent - making economic decisions for millions of individuals can be as concerned for their specific desires as those millions of individuals making decisions for themselves.
I admire that you see injustice in the world and wish to correct it. I, too, cannot stand injustice. My family makes it a priority to give to various charities - not just checks, but food and clothing and time. But it is my very disdain of injustice that cannot accept your answer that greater injustice - direct threats of violence - is needed to make things right.
Furthermore, It is rather utopian to believe that ultimate power (a monopoly on force) bequeathed unto an entity to achieve good deeds would not, just as it has throughout time, become ultimate power usurped for tyranny and corruption.
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- birdmechanical said: Isn’t part of the issue with caps is that it ignores economic reality? Shouldn’t there be different concerns like for now during a recession when more people are hurting than in times of prosperity? Also: birdmechanical.tumblr.c…
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