On Welfare

My Recent Posts

Today, I’ll address questions like: Are we obliged to help others when they are in adversity? If so, under what conditions? Who, exactly, deserves our help? How well do current welfare states perform the task at hand? And how might we put together a system to do the job properly, helping those who need and deserve help, while avoiding injustice to anyone?

 

Views from the past

 

John Locke, certainly, knew that there are good reasons to help your fellow human beings when they are in trouble. For he wrote, in his First Treatise: “It would always be a sin, in any man of estate, to let his brother perish for want of affording him relief out of his plenty. As justice gives every man a title to the product of his honest industry, and the fair acquisitions of his ancestors descended to him; so charity gives every man a title to so much of another’s plenty as will keep him from extreme want, where he has no means to subsist otherwise.”

 

But a counter-balancing view comes from 16th century English clergyman Richard Hooker, quoted by Locke himself. “If I do harm, I must look to suffer, there being no reason that others should show greater measure of love to me, than they have by me showed unto them.” In other words, if you behave badly towards others, you can’t reasonably expect them to behave any better towards you.

 

In my view, Locke is right, but Hooker is more right. Locke is right, because undeserved adversity – such as accident, illness, disability, unemployment – can happen to anyone. “There, but for the grace of god, go I.” Moreover, old age hits everyone who doesn’t die young. So, if you don’t show caring for your fellow human beings when they’re in trouble, you can’t expect them to feel much obligation to help you when you’re the one in trouble. But Hooker is more right; because brotherhood must be a two-way process. If individuals fail to show fellowship towards you, or if they behave badly towards you or even do harm to you, you can’t reasonably be obliged to feel or to show any brotherhood towards them.

 

My take on all this is that, to be worthy of our compassion and help, individuals must behave as our fellow human beings. That means, they must measure up to two sets of standards. One, they must be human beings; they must behave in ways that are natural to, and right for, human beings. And two, they must be our fellows. They must care about us; each of us as an individual. In particular, they must refrain from doing things that unjustly harm or inconvenience us, violate our rights, or restrict our freedoms.

 

Human nature

 

Here, in brief, is my take on human nature. We human beings are individuals. And we have free will. But we have also an ethical dimension. We are moral agents, who strive to know right from wrong. And we are naturally good; that is, our nature leads us to seek to do what is right. Even though, obviously, some among us fail to develop that nature.

 

Furthermore, it is in our nature to form societies and to build civilization. And at a higher level yet, it is in our nature to be creative. It is this creativity which elevates us above mere animals.

 

Convivial and disconvivial

 

In an earlier essay, I introduced the ideas of conviviality and convivial conduct. Other words you might use to describe such conduct are “civilized” or “reasonable.” I characterized some of the features of convivial conduct as follows: Seeking truth. Peacefulness, honesty, and respect for rights and freedoms. Refraining from harming innocents. Taking responsibility for directing your life, and for the effects of your actions on others. Striving to be economically productive. Tolerating difference. Always trying to behave with integrity and in good faith.

 

On the other hand, some individuals are disconvivial. In large matters, or repeatedly, or even habitually, they engage in conduct that is not convivial. Such as: Lying, dealing in bad faith. Ordering, committing or supporting aggressions. Behaving unreasonably or irresponsibly towards others. Sponging off others. Violating rights, or promoting or supporting violations of rights. Trying to constrain others’ freedoms, or their enjoyment of their justly earned wealth. Those that behave in disconvivial ways are, to use a vernacular word, assholes.

 

Now, I’ll ask: Why should those of us, who strive to be convivial, feel any sense of identity with, or caring for, those that behave like assholes? Why should truthful, honest people, for example, care about liars or the dishonest? Why should productive people care about the lazy? Why should peaceful people care about aggressors? Why should those, who respect others’ rights and freedoms, care about those that violate our rights or deny our freedoms?

 

From the point of view of those who strive to be convivial, disconvivials are a pain and a drain. They don’t measure up even to minimum standards of humanity. They are not fit to be accepted into any society of convivial human beings. Why, then, should we care about them?

 

Who are your fellows?

 

To promote, support or carry out any act that violates the rights of, harms or inconveniences, or seeks to harm or to inconvenience, innocent people is to commit an aggression against those innocent people. If you are a victim of such acts, those that did these things have committed aggression against you. So, why should you feel any kind of fellowship for them? If they want, for example, to constrain your freedom, to subject you to harassment, to impose taxes on you from which you get no benefit, or to reduce or cut off your economic opportunities? They have behaved, not as your friends, but as your enemies.

 

Do you really have any obligation to help such individuals? Ought you to go out of your way, or to use any of your resources, for their benefit? My answer is: Hell, no. You have no obligation to feed again those that bit your hand last time. They owe you compensation for what they have done to you; you don’t owe them anything.

 

Political policies and agendas

 

Today we suffer under a host of bad political policies, promoted by self-serving interest groups. Some like to go to the school-bully that is political government to get favours for themselves, or to get harms done to those they don’t like. Others like to rob us of our earned money – to deny us, in Locke’s words, title to the product of our honest industry – to enrich themselves and their friends and supporters, or to fund their pet projects. And many of those projects are disconvivial in themselves; for example, spreading lies and propaganda, seeking to force people to change their lifestyles against their wills, or starting wars. Yet others have a yen to violate our freedoms just for the hell of it, or to enforce arbitrary “laws” harshly on us.

 

Whenever you are inconvenienced, harmed, or you have your rights violated or your freedoms unnecessarily constrained by a political policy, then those that promoted, supported or enforced that policy have committed aggressions against you. And in a nasty, sneaky way too. What they have done is worse than merely criminal; it is cowardly, too. It is morally equivalent to – unprovoked – punching you in the nose, then running away.

 

But it is the deliberate imposition of political ideologies and agendas that leads to the worst excesses of disconviviality. Such agendas spawn webs of interconnected policies, all directed to outcomes that today are, virtually always, hostile to the interests of convivial people.

 

Take, as an example, socialism, which even 180 years ago had shown that it doesn’t work. Or communism, that has caused the deaths of almost 100 million people. Or fascism, a warlike ideology that easily turns to genocide. Or religious conservatism, that seeks to force everyone to conform to the customs of one particular sect. Or social conservatism, which seeks to maintain an existing order, even after it has clearly failed. Or corporate cronyism, or some ill-defined idea of “social justice,” both of which seek to enrich favoured groups, and to make innocent people pay for it.

 

I ask: Are those that promote and support these agendas really our brothers, our fellow human beings? And my answer again is: Hell, no. Should Jews, for example, be expected to feel fellowship with former nazis, or with their modern cohorts? Should those, whose lives have been damaged by bad political policies, be expected to feel compassion for, or to give any kind of help to, those that promoted or supported such policies? Surely not. They didn’t, and don’t, care about you; so why should you care about them? If an asshole starves, that’s one less asshole. Isn’t that a good thing?

 

But among all these evil ideologies, the worst is the environmentalist or green agenda. Hatched, propagandized and rammed down our throats by a globalist élite with no concern at all for us human beings, this agenda openly seeks to destroy the industrial civilization, which over the last two centuries has brought more opportunities for human beings to fulfil ourselves than ever before. And it does so by – among much else – using lies, bad “science,” hype and deceptions, by inverting the burden of proof, and by making the accused prove a negative. It is no exaggeration to say that those that favour the green agenda are traitors to human civilization. And therefore, they deserve to be expelled from our civilization, and denied its benefits.

 

Welfare states

 

Although there are government run welfare systems of one kind or another in many countries, the roots of the welfare state system lie in the UK. Before the 19th century, help for the poor was a religious matter, and was provided by local parishes. After the disastrous experiment of the 1834 Poor Law, there grew up private systems, through which people could get relief from poverty. Most notable among these were the friendly societies. But the political class still wanted to take control of these systems. Via a “national insurance” scheme in 1911, they gradually progressed to the creation, in 1948, of the giant, all-encompassing combine that is today called the welfare state.

 

In the UK at least, it isn’t just pensions, health and unemployment insurance that are provided by government and financed through taxation. Among much else, there is subsidized housing. There is “free” education. Things like roads and railways are, more or less directly, controlled by government. Even bus services are subsidized. The effect is like a giant financial whirlpool. For productive, honest people, some of what has been taken from us through taxation is, eventually, re-cycled to us in one form or another. But a lot of it – most – just disappears.

 

So, how well has the welfare state done its job? After 70 years, has it ended poverty? Has it made us all better off? Has it provided us with financial security in our old age? Hell, no.

 

First, the welfare state has always been a Ponzi scheme. It doesn’t enable people to build up a surplus, which they can use when in need. Rather, it has always depended on those currently working to pay for benefits for those not working, or no longer able to work. Then, in the early 1970s, there began the fall in indigenous birth rates to below replacement levels, which today has reached almost all Western countries. The political class’s response has been twofold. First, to increase taxes. Thus, today in the UK we suffer the highest tax burden in 50 years. And, as the population ages, that burden is increasing rapidly. Second, to actively encourage mass immigration. This has led, understandably, to negative reactions from those who feel their culture is being diluted, and their home turned into a foreign land; if not also a building site.

 

Second, the economic policies that maintain the welfare state have had disastrous consequences for many working people.  Sixty years ago, one working parent could support a family. Now, it often takes two. Buying a home, too, has become an increasing strain. Meanwhile, low interest rates and deliberate currency inflation – euphemized as “quantitative easing” – have favoured the state itself, and the big corporations that hang off its coat-tails; while we ordinary people are unable to preserve anything like the value of our savings. Further, acts of political meddling have taken away the access to the market, and so the earning power, even of highly skilled individuals. I myself am a victim of such an evil act, code named IR35, which for 20 years now has reduced my income to half or even a third of what I’m worth in the market.

 

Third, the welfare state has had bad social consequences, too. Sociologists tell us that it has created an underclass. With no desire to work, and in some cases with criminal tendencies, they have become unemployable and dependent on the state for their very existence. It has also caused a more general moral decay; many now show no shame about taking as much as they possibly can from the trough. It has destroyed the feeling of solidarity, that underpinned what used to be known as “civil society.” Further, those who, like me, have been expected to pay for all this, but have stood on our own two feet and never claimed any social benefits, don’t get even a single word of thanks or appreciation. Not even from one of the recipients, not even once. Ungrateful bastards! Instead, they give thanks and respect, not to those who earned the wealth they are living off, but to the political class that re-distributed it in their direction.

 

Fourth, like any centralized system that is not subject to market pressures or competition, the welfare state has become expensive and bureaucratic. Worse, it has encouraged health fascists and other nanny-state freedom-haters to try to take advantage. That’s why we keep hearing trial balloons for policies like denying medical treatment to smokers, or imposing a “calorie cap” on restaurant meals. Or, even, the ridiculous idea of a “universal basic income” (UBI). Such a system would have all the failings of the welfare state, and more. The poor would, very likely, be worse off even than under today’s welfare systems. A UBI would take away all incentive to work hard, or even to work at all. And so, it would inevitably end in disastrous failure.

 

And last… the welfare state is unsustainable. It’s like a neglected, ramshackle building that will eventually collapse under its own weight. The political class know this, but they aren’t willing to admit they were wrong. They won’t do anything to dismantle or even to reform the system. Therefore, it continues inexorably on its way towards the brick wall of bankruptcy. And when it hits… unless you’re rich or politically connected, you don’t want to be old. Of course, the political class will look to make sure they themselves don’t suffer. Unless there is radical change, it will be those, who have paid and paid and paid but grow old at the wrong time, who will be shafted. Maybe 10 or 15 years from now. Maybe sooner.

 

A sane, sustainable system

 

How might we build a sustainable system, which can help those who are poor through no fault of their own, while allowing everyone to get on with their lives in their own way? The first component, I think, must be savings. People must have incentives and opportunities to work, to develop their skills, and so to build up a reserve for their old age, or for a rainy day. And whatever is left over, they must be able to leave to their children or to other favourites. To enable this requires several conditions. One, a fully free market. Two, a framework of good governance, that delivers peace and objective justice to all, and defends individual rights, and in particular property rights. Three, a reasonably stable currency, which cannot be arbitrarily debauched. And four, the absence of a greedy, grasping, ravenous political state.

 

The second component is insurance. This works best for those risks, such as serious accident or disability, which have a low chance of happening, but major negative effects if they do happen. Third comes the implementation of systems of mutual aid; perhaps through re-vitalization of friendly societies, or creation of modern versions of them. Fourth is a revival of civil society, in which people look out for their neighbours, and in which there is personal contact between helpers and helped. And as a final backstop, particularly in cases of unexpected emergency, there is always voluntary charity.

 

As to the how to get there from here, that subject demands an essay in itself. All I’ll say now is that the interests of productive, honest, self-directing people must always take precedence over the interests of the lazy, the dishonest, the politicized and all other assholes.

 

To sum up

 

All human individuals owe help and compassion to their fellow human beings. But fellowship is a two-way process. You don’t owe anything to those that fail to behave as human beings, or fail to behave as your fellows, or support political policies that harm you.

 

Today’s welfare states have had major negative economic and social effects. They have all but destroyed solidarity and civil society, and caused moral decay and loss of individual freedom. Furthermore, welfare states are unsustainable. Without radical change, they will collapse; and sooner rather than later.

 

A free, just, de-politicized and sustainable welfare system is feasible. It could be built on a foundation of savings, insurance, mutual aid, civil society and, at need, charity.

 

Comments

Neil Lock Added Jan 4, 2019 - 10:33am
This article is radical stuff. Please don't let yourselves be fooled by the slow, gentle start. This one is a bit of a roller-coaster ride!
Stone-Eater Added Jan 4, 2019 - 10:56am
Are we obliged to help others when they are in adversity
 
Absolutely. I don't need a new cellphone each 6 months...
 
I admit that I didn't read your article to the full yet but I had the urge to say yes. Why ? Because it's very simple: I imagine I'm in a situation that needs help and nobody helps me. When people have the capabililty to set themselves in the place of THE OTHER, the whole discussion becomes obsolete.
 
Am I right ?
 
Now.....nobody please comment like "lazy bastards don't wanna work"....
Stone-Eater Added Jan 4, 2019 - 11:10am
BTW:
 
There's nothing wrong with a state-organized welfare system. Why ? Because the private guy is not very generous in general. The condition is then that either the private or the governmental sector can CREATE jobs so that people can get off the "lazy bastard" drawer. That also needs education and flexibility by both. A 50-year-old jobless carpenter doesn't become a Webdesigner overnight. 
 
We need a redefinition of "work" and therefore a renewed conscience of people that "work" is not 7-to-5 in an office space only. 
 
This is more of a field of psychology than of economy. We had this system for the last 200 years at least, and we need to change - demography and resources demand it. 
 
Empathy and the readyness to help does not PAY: And we're born and raised in a society that everything we do is rewarded in a way that we get something in return.
 
But a friendly smile, or a smile of relief, a hug, has no material payoff. A kid that makes a degree because you helped him to get through school cannot PAY you off.
 
But you will be part of his life and memory. When will we relearn that such simple things are much more valuable ?
 
And that also counts for the "lazy bastard" bugger on the street when he gets a job at 60. It will restore his self-esteem and - help others.
Ryan Messano Added Jan 4, 2019 - 11:25am
Great article, Neil. I would only add it is the job of ANYBODY BUT THE GOVERNMENT, to help the poor and sick. I would also add that you did not tie the declining birth rate with the advent of libertinism in the West.  Sex outside of marriage is always individual and societal suicide.
The Owl Added Jan 4, 2019 - 11:25am
I will comment later when my stomach has calmed down from the roller coaster ride...
 
One question that came to mind...
 
What is inherently uncivil...indeed evil...about wanting to conserve that which is good about society and civility?
 
Like the rights that we all have as individuals in our communities, I would think that those should be fiercely defended from those who wish to chip them away for patently political purposes.
 
George N Romey Added Jan 4, 2019 - 11:25am
Ok let me try to break this down.  First and foremost I never understand why people feel the need to hang onto economists and the like from the 1700s and 1800s.  At that time most people worked in agriculture or worked in very small businesses. Work was physically oriented.  If you didn't have the strength or stamina you were screwed and there were very few public and private charities.
 
Today in developed countries most of us find our livelihood is dependent upon an organization, most them bigger than a few people organization.  Our continued employment is dependent upon that organization's needs.  I think we can agree that for the most part keeping employees on because firing them was unconscionable for the most part has left the gate.  
 
For all kinds of reasons people fall on hard times and their ability to get back on track can be dependent upon any number of factors. A 30 year old could expect more similar employment to their old occupation compared to a 60 year old.  A STEM graduate from MIT a better chance than someone that barely finished high school.
 
The question becomes what is the role of the welfare state?  What should the portion be of hand outs and hand ups.  How do we get people back into self sufficiency?
 
The Fox News crowd claims that private charity can perform this need.  However, private charity cannot handle it by themselves.  Just ask any church pastor.  There's no canned answer and the system doesn't particularly do a good job of distinguishing between those willing to work for regaining self sufficiency and those just gaming the system.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 4, 2019 - 11:34am
Like the rights that we all have as individuals
 
You have as many rights as you are able to pay for them. This is valuable around the world. The rest is blue eye.
Dino Manalis Added Jan 4, 2019 - 12:23pm
 We should help each other as much as possible, while the government ought to assist people to become as independent and self-sufficient as possible.
Dave Volek Added Jan 4, 2019 - 12:43pm
Neil
 
I think George summed up your philosophy quite well with:
 
First and foremost I never understand why people feel the need to hang onto economists and the like from the 1700s and 1800s. 
 
In other words, you are behind the times and have a rather primitive understanding of how a modern society functions.
 
I could write a lengthy rebuttal to your article, but I will just make a two points.
 
First, if we cut off all social assistance, what would happen? Here's my synopsis:
 
1) Short term welfare recipients would no longer have a little financial assistance to help them get through a rough patch of life. Without this help, some will not get through that rough patch.
2) Some long term welfare recipients would find jobs. These would be the deliberate abusers of the system.
3) Some would become burdens to their family, thereby putting these citizens into poverty.
4) Some would starve or die of some other poverty-related affliction (and you seem to be OK with that).
5) Some would resort to private charity. As Stone has alluded, rich people really aren't that generous, so private charity is unlikely to pick up much of that slack. 
6) Some will take to petty crime to feed themselves and pay the rent: shoplifting, burglary, mugging, and prostitution. You seem see that as a preferable outcome than social assistance.
7) Some petty criminals will eventually end up in jail, which then becomes real expensive.
 
In a way, western democracies have blundered into a social construct where it is cheaper to put 10 families on welfare than to put one person in jail.
 
Second, I can't speak for the UK, but it seems the social assistance programs in the USA are a real mess, leading to too much dependency. In Canada, we have reformed our programs such that most long-term recipients are indeed physically or psychologically damaged enough not be able to hold down a full-time job. I would not want to inflict these people on employers who would have to go through the expense of trying to train them only to fire them. Nearly all able bodied Canadian would take a minimum wage job than go on welfare. If the UK is similar to the USA, then we should lay the blame on the legislative processes for creating poorly run social assistance programs, not on the recipients.
 
 
And I have a solution for creating better social programs.
 
 
Neil Lock Added Jan 4, 2019 - 1:07pm
Stone-Eater: You say that empathy and readiness to help do not pay. I agree; but the same is true in the opposite direction, too. When the Beatles sang, "Money can't buy me love," they weren't joking.
 
Your and my arguments are actually two sides of the same coin. What state welfare has done is take away our chances to interact positively with those who might be able to satisfy our needs. It has made it far harder to trade material things for non-material ones, in both directions. And that's bad for everyone.
Neil Lock Added Jan 4, 2019 - 1:18pm
Owl: If I read you right, I totally agree with what you say here. Indeed, I favour the restoration of the sense of civil society, which the state's machinations have all but destroyed. And yes, our rights should indeed be defended against those that want to take them away for political purposes. And the last thing we should trust to "defend" those rights is a political government!
Leroy Added Jan 4, 2019 - 1:19pm
Excellent article, Niel.  I enjoyed reading it.
 
I suppose I have a different take.  We are not obliged to help anyone period.  It should always be a choice.  If I give shelter out of the goodness of my heart to a homeless family, it is a good thing.  I might even feel good about it. If the government takes my money by force and does the same, I get no credit and might feel a little bitter about it, especially if I feel that they didn't deserve it.  Before, we had to depend on the generosity of others, namely family, the church, or charities.  It brought us together.  We helped friends and neighbors and, most importantly, our parents.  Today, we depend on the government.  When we grow up, we can leave the family to pursue our dreams.  We don't have to worry about what happens to our parents because the government is there to take care of them.  It gives us freedom, but it also dehumanizes us.
 
Should we only show charity to those that have behaved well towards us?  It's a choice.  It doesn't necessarily matter.  My sister is a very charitable person.  She often helps those no one else will.  She literally picked up one young man off the streets and brought him into her home.  He was kicked out of the house by his parents.  He was kicked out of the homeless shelter.  He behaved badly towards his fellow man.  He turned his life around. There was no obligation.  She did it out of kindness.  She also took care of an old doctor after he lost his wife.  He was a modern-day Scrooge.  He lost his medical license for selling prescriptions.  I knew him as a customer.  He was a tightwad and a pain in the derriere and a slum lord.  (I had no issue with slum lords.  They provide a service.) My sister turned him into a human being.  It is all about choice.
 
If we owe our fellow human beings, then the government has the right to collect on that debt.  I reject that position.  
George N Romey Added Jan 4, 2019 - 1:24pm
Bad things happen to good people and they may not always have family, friends and community to lean on.  It benefits society as a whole to get people back into self sufficiency mode ASAP.  The problem is that our modern welfare state gives hand outs but isn't so good at hand ups or how to determine what individuals are worthy of either.  
 
It's very easy for someone that has never been that misfortune to take a hard line.  There go by the grace of God go I.  
Neil Lock Added Jan 4, 2019 - 1:45pm
George: Wow, you make so many points in such a short space that I'll need several paragraphs to answer.
 
I never understand why people feel the need to hang onto economists and the like from the 1700s and 1800s. I see your point, but if you feel a need to "hang onto" the ideas of earlier thinkers, you should pick good ones. Not any of today's "economists," for example! And if you don't look back to the best ideas of the past, you will probably end up re-inventing the wheel, badly.
 
Most of us find our livelihood is dependent upon an organization, most them bigger than a few people organization. I couldn't agree more; and that's part of the problem! The state is a top-down thing, a collective thing. By its nature, it favours big organizations and hates the independent individual.
 
How do we get people back into self sufficiency? I did try to answer that question in the article. But it is certainly not by taking away from people their freedom to tread their own path in life! Which is the main reason they ceased to be self sufficient in the first place.
Neil Lock Added Jan 4, 2019 - 1:51pm
Dino: I agree with what you say, except that where you say "government ought to assist people to become as independent and self-sufficient as possible," I'd prefer "government must not get in the way of people becoming as independent and self-sufficient as possible."
Neil Lock Added Jan 4, 2019 - 1:55pm
Dave: I look forward to your "lengthy rebuttal!"
 
When you say, we should lay the blame on the legislative processes for creating poorly run social assistance programs, not on the recipients, I heartily agree. And please note that in the whole article I never (at least, never intentionally) criticized those who are in need of help through no fault of their own.
Dave Volek Added Jan 4, 2019 - 4:06pm
Neil
 
"No fault of their own" is a hard line to define. The case workers for Canada's social programs are often making judgement calls, but  I think training and experience give them the abilities to make better calls.
 
I used to work on the drilling rigs. There were many young men, attracted by the money, who tried out this occupation. The rigs do challenge a young worker in many ways. At least half of the new workers quit within a couple of weeks. From my perspective, they didn't have the fortitude to handle the work. I suspect most of them found easier work.
 
In a like manner, for some people cannot handle a 40-hour work week in a simple job, which you and I would take for granted.  There is a certain amount of fortitude that, if it is not there, they can't get ready for work, commute, show up on time, get along with fellow employees, get a few productive things done at work, and work the entire shift. They may appear quite able bodied, but there are some underlying psychological problems that need to be addressed which won't be solved by tough love. If we cut them off social assistance, they will flounder. And there are consequences for us when they do flounder.  
 
In the past, I believe the Alberta government has tried some remedial programs to train the flounderers to be more employable. I think the success rate was too low to justify the expense. In other words, it is cheaper to keep them on social assistance for most of their lives than try to give them a hand up. 
 
In another kind of judgement call, one of my students had four young daughters when her husband walked out of their lives. She was able-bodied, but the case workers put the family on social assistance, and this situation has lasted for about 10 years. The mother was able to get her girls to school and ensure they were home after school. Her girls are doing well academically, and one is now in university. The Alberta government could have said "no way", and the mother probably could have got a job cleaning hotel rooms. But that would have meant an insufficient income for her family and not that much time to nurture her family. My community just might be dealing a few more juvenile delinquents, and there is a cost associated with that as well.
 
As you may know, the oilpatch in world has taken a big hit in the past few years. I see many Alberta oilpatch workers who were laid off have gone on to other occupations, probably taking a big cut in pay. But again, oilfield workers have a certain fortitude that will keep them off social assistance.
 
I don't know how to put fortitude into people. The best we can do is to not provide an excessive income to social assistance as a disincentive for those thinking social assistance might be an easy ride. I'm always amazed at how many Canadians take on crummy low-paying jobs, and that is a good sign our social programs are working well.
 
If social programs are being abused, then look to your legislative processes, not the abusers and the people you think might be abusers.
Even A Broken Clock Added Jan 4, 2019 - 5:12pm
Neil, I've been doing some thinking about Rousseau and the social contract. What you are laying out seems to embody what you would consider to be your version of a social contract. I view the US Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as being the embodiment of our social contract in the US, and am trying to see how those documents could possibly be updated given the technological and economic world we live in today.
 
One thing I'll say about your perspective on abandoning those who refuse to participate in civil society. Seems like we've tried that experiment in the US and it has led to the highest incarcerated rate in the world. So something does not seem to be working, that's for sure.
Ryan Messano Added Jan 4, 2019 - 5:30pm
EABC, they don't need to be updated.  Human nature never changes, despite technological innovation.  We have a high incarceration rate because we don't ban porn and drugs, as we once used to.  Porn (56% of all divorces are due to porn use), and drugs lead to fatherlessness.  High fatherlessness rates (Illegitimacy has gone from 3.6% in 1947 to 39.8% today) mean high poverty and criminality rates. 
Katharine Otto Added Jan 4, 2019 - 9:07pm
Neil,
Answer to question number one:  No, we are not obligated to help.  No one "deserves" help, but some people or situations may be amenable to the kind of help that is available or offered.
 
Now, you're moving from the individual to the general, when you talk about the "welfare state."  If the answer to the first two questions is "no," the next questions become irrelevant.  
 
So, are you talking about individual responsibility, or responsibility that is claimed in the individual's name by the state?  The "welfare state" steals from the individual to provide the welfare without giving the individual credit for his/her charity.  In other words, the current attitude seems to be "Why should I help my fellow man, give to charity, or feed the homeless if the state is stealing my money to do it?"
FacePalm Added Jan 4, 2019 - 11:24pm
Katharine made the point secularly which i was about to make religiously.
Christ despised the "Corban" system.  Few today seem to know what it was in His day, but essentially, it was to give to the Temple certain sums which would then be later distributed by the priests to those in need...IOW, a "social security system."
 
Why Christ hated it was summed up in His saying that if you see your neighbor - or even your old parents - in need, you can say to him or her "it is Corban," or already donated, so you can ignore the Commandment to honor your father and mother... or "make void the word of God for the sake of your tradition."
 
If we're looking to assign blame for the way things are, we can certainly attribute much-if-not-most of it to the banksters, their toadies and supporters, the corporate entities; they're the ones who designed the schools to "teach" nothing more than just enough to run the machines and fill out the paperwork, but do little to encourage creativity, ingenuity, or especially, independence of any kind.
 
If we're looking for solutions, i can't think of a better one than to start as early as psychologically feasible to teach the youth to look for opportunities.  A great curriculum could be built around Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," for example.
Ryan Messano Added Jan 5, 2019 - 12:08am
Love 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad'.
Do A Deal Added Jan 5, 2019 - 12:51am
The solution is a Job Gty as part of a Full Employment Fiscal Policy.  Or as  like to cal it: "Put the Lazy Asses to Work".  No handouts are involved.  Job Gty
Easy Peazy!
FacePalm Added Jan 5, 2019 - 2:50am
Do a Deal-
i did read through the info at your link.
The "job guarantee"("guaranty" is not a guarantee, last i checked) does not account for slackers, those who hate working at anything for any reason at any time; these are worse than no one, since other people will have to pick up their slack and fix what they fuck up.
 
The Fed is a private cartel owned by mostly-foreign banksters, who simply will not obey commands from anyone else.  They were formed in 1913 through trickery on the one hand, and abdication of responsibility on the other, as only Congress was granted the power to "coin money and declare it's value," and neither does the Constitution allow them to delegate this responsibility to ANYone else.  The Founders were quite aware of the dangers of unfunded paper currency, having just been through the entire "Continental" debacle...which is why the Constitution does NOT delegate the power to "print" money.  Just "coin" it.
 
The question of taxation isn't addressed at all, either.  If someone works a 40 hr. wk. @ 10/hr, yet are taxed 40%, their take-home will be 240.  Hard to squeeze by on 960 a month, what with rents and groceries being so high, not to mention insurance and licensing for the car, etc., the phone bills, the electric, the gas, the water - and all of those have taxes on them, too.
 
Not quite so "simple" now, is it?
 
And who's going to teach them how to innovate, how to save, how to seek and find opportunities beyond a simple job?  Did you know that the word "Job" is an acronym?
 
Yep.  "J.ust O.ver B.roke."
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2019 - 5:13am
Great article Neil. I agree with the thrust.
I do believe that the measure of a civilised society is how well it treats its weakest members. I do believe we need to show compassion for those in need.
I do think that those in need also need to help themselves. Welfare should not be a way of life but a safety net. The Jarrow marchers did not march for hand-outs; they marched for work.
I also agree that the welfare system has not worked well enough. It needs an overhaul. It should be there as a safety net. It should provide basic needs and help people get back on their feet.
Universal credit may have worked if it had been set up properly. We should be getting people back into work not subsidising a lifetime of idleness. But deliberately putting people into hopeless destitution is not the answer either.
Neil Lock Added Jan 5, 2019 - 7:02am
Leroy: Well spotted! I asked the question "are we obliged to help others?" at the beginning of the article, and then failed to answer that question in the terms in which I had stated it. I'll have to re-word a few things...
 
The position I put forward, stated broadly, is that it is in our interests to help those around us when they need it, as long as they behave as our fellows, and are prepared to help us in return. This is a little different from an "obligation." I tend to think of providing towards such help as a moral obligation, but it isn't something which can reasonably be compelled by a third party, such as the state. So you're absolutely right when you suggest, at the end, that government has no right to "collect" on a debt that, if it is owed at all, is owed only by one individual to another.
 
I think where I go further than you is in excluding from any such obligation the provision of help to those that show by their behaviour that they don't deserve it. But yes, as you say, it is a choice. You can choose to feed the beaks that have bitten you, if you want. I myself regard that as bad business; something which a masochist might do, but I'm not a masochist.
 
Leroy, many thanks for your insightful comment - that's exactly the kind of feedback I was looking for!
Neil Lock Added Jan 5, 2019 - 7:16am
Dave: I like the way you put the characteristic, which will keep those who have it out of social assistance programs unless they absolutely need them, as "fortitude." I think the way I would say it might be "striving for independence." Combined, of course, with other desirable characteristics such as keeping your freely made promises.
 
And you're right that if there is abuse of the system, the problem is with the way it is set up. I think the mutual aid systems of the 19th century went quite a long way towards avoiding the worst abuses. In particular, there was personal contact between helpers and helped, and there weren't many malingerers, because those tempted to be lazy knew they would be shamed if they were caught out. That's where civil society scores over any system imposed by the state.
Neil Lock Added Jan 5, 2019 - 7:49am
Broken Clock: Yes, I too have done a little thinking about the social contract. I gave a summary of my views on it in one of my earlier essays, "On Political Societies and Political Governments." The version of the idea I used there was, in essence, the one put forward by John Locke. (Rather than Rousseau - whom I haven't studied extensively, but on the basis of the little I've read I'm no great fan of his). My basic problem with the social contract idea is the notion that there is such a thing as the social contract, which can be imposed on everyone by the leaders of a political society. I see, rather, social contracts made between individuals and the societies they choose to join.
 
As to what you say about high incarceration rates in the USA resulting from those who fail to participate in civil society. I may be wrong, but I had heard that the single biggest cause of imprisonment in the USA has for decades been draconian enforcement of "war on drugs" laws. (Ryan seems to think it's the opposite, a pulling-back from enforcing such laws; but I'll leave the two of you to argue over that one :-)
 
Neil Lock Added Jan 5, 2019 - 7:57am
Katharine: Thanks for your comment. I think I already dealt with the issue of obligations in my reply to Leroy, above. You weren't the only one to pick that up!
 
As to your characterization of current attitudes as: "Why should I help my fellow man, give to charity, or feed the homeless if the state is stealing my money to do it?" That was basically what I was trying to say, when I talked of loss of solidarity and of civil society. But you have said it far more eloquently. So thank you very much, and I'll put something in along those lines next time I revise the article!
Neil Lock Added Jan 5, 2019 - 8:05am
FacePalm: Aha, so the pre-19th-century system of poor relief goes back 2,000+ years! As I've long suspected, there's not so much difference between state and church after all... Good catch!
 
And yes, education is important.
Neil Lock Added Jan 5, 2019 - 8:14am
DoADeal: I took a quick look at your link. It's a very centrally controlled way of doing things, isn't it? Shades of the Soviet Union. So you'll pay one set of people to dig ditches, then another set of people to fill them in? That's just as bad as the welfare state, but in a slightly different way. The honest, productive people, who simply want to make their own way in life, will still get shafted.
Neil Lock Added Jan 5, 2019 - 8:23am
Opher: Good heavens! You and Ryan agree on something! And not only that, but you both think my article is "great!" (Well, it is almost 3,000 words long...)
 
When you say that a welfare system "should be there as a safety net. It should provide basic needs and help people get back on their feet," I heartily agree. And the suggestion I briefly outlined, I think, ought to do just that. A free market and a good climate for savings, to allow those who can fly without a safety net to do so. Insurance, to support those individuals with no chance of getting back on their feet. And mutual aid to help those, who can get back on their feet, to do so.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 5, 2019 - 9:16am
Neil
 
What state welfare has done is take away our chances to interact positively with those who might be able to satisfy our needs.
 
One can't complain about the welfare state and "lazy bastards" when at the same time put the bureaucratic and financial hurdles and regulations too high to get out of welfare....
Stone-Eater Added Jan 5, 2019 - 9:18am
....and put up his own little business. As it is the case in Switzerland. Governments like welfare. Why ? Because a guy on the dole is easier to control than one who earns his money by himself.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 5, 2019 - 9:25am
BTW:
 
I set up my company in 2017 in Senegal with an investment of 0. The capital was in goods - 5 computers and a printer, valued at CFA 1'000'000, means US$ 2'500. I got the papers and now we're off.
 
In Switzerland I'd have to put up US$ 20'000 in cash of my account to get it registered properly.
 
And which guy on welfare has that money at hand ?
George N Romey Added Jan 5, 2019 - 10:19am
People forget what it was like in this country more than a century ago. The streets were littered with beggars and disabled people unable to care for themselves.  It's very easy to say no assistance until those people start sleeping on your street.  
 
Not all people have friends or family to fall back and not all families have the ability to care for the sick and disabled.  Some one has to do it.  Moreover, when economic pain hits it tends to hit across extended family lines. 
 
Again, as someone that has gone through the government system it in many ways fosters, encourages if not enforces addiction to state resources.  Take young women.  Having out of children wedlock becomes an ATM machine.  These women cannot care for these children, which are often mentally and physically abused.  However, the court system won't take children away from their natural parent.
 
The system needs to be reworked but that takes an initial outlay of money and will also protest against those that are profiting from a system of people being dependent upon the state.  
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2019 - 11:09am
Neil - no I don't agree with the brainwashed child. I don't share either his stingy, selfish attitude towards taxation or his callous, heartless attitude towards those in need. Neither do I agree about the purpose of government. I see its prime aim as caring for its citizens. Everything else flows from that.
Dave Volek Added Jan 5, 2019 - 12:04pm
One thing this whole welfare debate is some statistics. It is too easy to point one single, young, apparently healthy man on social assistance and say the whole system is corrupt. 
 
Unfortunately, I don't have any data. I suspect no one else on this thread has any data either.
 
My from informal observations of social assistance in Alberta, I would say maybe 10% of the population have used welfare on a short term basis some time in their lives. They eventually got back on their feet again, and the government assistance helped.
 
Maybe 1% to 2% of the working age population is on welfare on a long term basis. At least 90% of those have some kind of physical or psychological disability that makes a 40-hour work week almost impossible. This would mean 0.1% to 0.2% of the population could be classified as true abusers. This low level of abuse does not justify throwing away the entire social assistance programming. 
 
My main beef with Canada's social assistance is that some of those damaged people/families probably could handle a 10 to 20-hour work week. As the person gets trained for handling part-time work, he eventually may move into full-time work. But if a person earns $100 working part-time, he gets $100 taken off his benefits. So there is not much incentive to find and keep a part-time job, especially for someone with a weaker work ethic. Fortunately, it seems that the  governments are starting to realize this and are developing formulas that increase the incentive to find and keep work while on assistance, while reducing the dependency. I understand that unemployment insurance in Canada has gone this way already. 
 
 
 
 
 
Neil Lock Added Jan 5, 2019 - 12:11pm
Stone-Eater: a guy on the dole is easier to control than one who earns his money by himself.
 
You have hit the nail absolutely on the head there, my friend. And the "by himself" bit is spot on too; the bad "law" called IR35, which has hobbled my career and my life for 20 years, was in its original intention a ban on one-man businesses.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 5, 2019 - 1:20pm
Neil
 
Thanks for confirming me :-) That's why I went to Africa. Here you can't get the feet off the ground except you belong to a group which has connections....;-)
FacePalm Added Jan 5, 2019 - 1:30pm
Opher hit on a good point.
Those who go on the dole and intend to stay there are a drain, especially if they're healthy.  Where are the government programs that teach people how to be alert to opportunity?  Where are the government programs that encourage people - emPOWER people - to get off the dole?
 
In most of the "social safety net" programs i'm aware of, if you find an opportunity and seek to capitalize on it, and if you succeed, you'll be prosecuted for fraud...when they catch you. 
 
Are there no foundations in Britain which give grants, or are they - as most are in America - simply tools of the globalists, and they won't help ANYone who is opposed to the NWO/OWG?
 
At the root of the problem is that opportunities are risky; those afraid to take risks cannot succeed, and i think that the PtB want things to stay that way; "take the money, get drunk/stoned, be quiet," or else - and meanwhile, they plan to kill us all, or as many as possible...and as soon as possible.
 
Strong, self-sufficient, creative, innovative, opportunity-seeking, risk-taking people are exactly the kind of people they seek to "tame"...or eliminate first.  Less competition, you know.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 5, 2019 - 1:38pm
Face
 
Those who go on the dole and intend to stay there are a drain, especially if they're healthy
 
I know a lot of people which are 50+ and healthy but don't find a job anymore. They feel useless for society, because here your value as a human being is defined by what your work and what you earn. And if the dear overlord CEO's have a free pass to employ any youngbreed without experience for low wage and snub older experienced workers because they probably have to support family and would need a buck or so more - fuck them.
 
BULLSHIT !
Koshersalaami Added Jan 5, 2019 - 3:37pm
I read most of the article but not most of the thread. I would dispute a couple of things.
 
The first is that it is the welfare state that necessitated dual income households. In the United States, No, it isn’t. That really became prevalent during the 1970’s and 80’s and it was triggered by a combination of factors. The first is collusion between the oil producing states and the American petroleum industry to trigger what was called the Arab Oil Embargo in the immediate aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, leading energy prices to skyrocket. At almost exactly that point, Japan started exporting high-mileage cars to the US at a time when the embargo created demand for them, meaning the US lost a lot of jobs, plus Japan engaged in a lot of practices that China now engages in, causing our massive trade imbalance, only the Japanese practices were more comprehensive. At the same time, interest rates rose, making credit expensive, housing costs rose, and higher education costs rose, while incomes stayed stable. Wives went to work to keep households above water. None of this is about welfare states. 
 
The second is the underlying assumption that various forms of public assistance are ultimately about (misplaced) legislated compassion. They’re about a lot more than that.  They’re about pump priming. Right now in the United States we have an administration, like we did with George W. Bush, that believes the best place to prime the pump is at the top. (Obama didn’t divert from this anywhere near as much as he should have and Clinton wasn’t great about this either.) It’s exactly the worst place unless what’s keeping your growth in check is a lack of sufficient capital to create enough businesses to meet demand. That’s very far from our problem. We have the capital, what we need is the demand, and that is much more effectively done by priming the pump at the bottom because people without money have to spend it immediately when they get it out of necessity, and it is this demand that creates more profits, more jobs - and less need for public assistance, more taxpayers - and less need to raise taxes to raise revenue. It’s not all about the recipients, it’s also about the country. 
 
If you look around the world, you’ll find that countries that you might consider Welfare States tend to be the most generally prosperous. There’s a reason for that. 
Logical Man Added Jan 5, 2019 - 4:08pm
If you never help anyone else, you can't expect anyone to help you.
I try to live by that. Usually works out, given most are decent honest humans, I find.
I'm no fan of government, who's taxes mean that people are less able to look after themselves and make it hard for people to help each other. Greed is propagandized as a good thing, by the greedy, as it gives them cover and makes people easier to control. Perfect combo!
If I see you by the side of the road looking like you could use a hand, I won't hesitate to offer assistance. Just my way of doing things and I'll likely continue that way.
Sure, some will take advantage, but I'd rather risk that than not helping someone who really needs it.
 
Stone-Eater Added Jan 5, 2019 - 4:11pm
LM
 
Thanks.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jan 5, 2019 - 6:24pm
Neil - Another stellar contribution. No need to break this down. We grok each other man :) 
 
Assholes individually are usually harmless, except to themselves. It is only when they congregate in large numbers sharing each others fumes that they form the collective sphincter we call the state :)
Ward Tipton Added Jan 5, 2019 - 7:24pm
YOU CANNOT!
William J.H. Boetcker
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.
Koshersalaami Added Jan 5, 2019 - 10:09pm
The day we approach destroying the rich is the day that point becomes relevant. We are ludicrously far from that. 
Do A Deal Added Jan 6, 2019 - 12:37am
FacePalm:
RE: "... The "job guarantee"... does not account for slackers, those who hate working at anything for any reason at any time; these are worse than no one, since other people will have to pick up their slack and fix what they fuck up. ... ..."
• Actually it does. If you would have read through the questions, you would have noted:
" If you want to get into the weeds: they can definitely get fired from the Job Gty program. If they do, they can reapply, but they wouldn't be entitled to another JG job until they wait 30 days with no benefits. If they get fired a second time in a 12 month period, they have to wait 60 days. If they get fired a 3rd time, they have to wait 90 days, but at this point they are assigned a counselor to suss out the problem. Nobody likes getting fired and having to start a new job. If they wait or work a year, they're back to 30 days."
RE: "... The Fed is a private cartel owned by mostly-foreign banksters ... ..."
• This is of course total nonsense, but who cares? (Are they jewish bankers by any chance? Yea. I thought so.)
RE: "... who simply will not obey commands from anyone else. ... ..."
• If you would have read the blurb as you said you did, you would have noted Step:
" 3) Revise Federal Reserve Act so Federal Reserve Bank reports to the Treasury." This would take an Act of Congress and the President's signature.
RE: "... The question of taxation isn't addressed ... ..."
• It doesn't need to be addressed. (40% for someone making $10/hr???? Where did you pull that number out of?)
RE: "... Not quite so "simple" now, is it? ... ..."
• Actually it is pretty easy. Just have to convince a lot of dummies or victims are economic maleducation.
RE: "... And who's going to teach them how to innovate, how to save, how to seek and find opportunities beyond a simple job? ... ..."
• Who cares. Just put the lazy asses to work.
Do A Deal Added Jan 6, 2019 - 12:48am
Neil LockedUp:
RE: "... It's a very centrally controlled way of doing things, isn't it? Shades of the Soviet Union. ... ..."
• No, not it all. Perhaps you should take a closer look. The USSR and other communist countries partook in the state owning and running the means of production. hat's not what we are talking about. I'm talking about offering unemployed folk productive jobs.
RE: "...people to dig ditches, ... ..."
• Why would you do that? You don't think public sector can provide useful jobs? Are these "digging ditches and filling them back up again"?: pulling your children out of a burning building, forming the thin blue line between your wife and getting raped, building and repaving the roads and bridges you drive over, cleaning the toxic waster dump left by some failed job creator, making sure most folks on the road know the rules of the road and can see straight, winning WW2, invent the internet, fund and execute our basic research, making sure your dullard kids are educated and can be functioning adults....(infrastructure; alternative energy; high speed rail; rehire every teacher, fire fighter, cop laid off in last 8 years; quintuple trade school and community college staff - free tuition, free elder and child care
RE: "... will still get shafted. ... ..."
• How would they be shafted?
A. Jones Added Jan 6, 2019 - 1:28am
First and foremost I never understand why people feel the need to hang onto economists and the like from the 1700s and 1800s. 
 
That sounds like a wonderful excuse for your own ignorance of basic Econ101, the basic principles of which were first stated in the 1700s and 1800s ("Oh, gee, that's all OLD stuff. I don't need to learn any of that. Since they didn't work in offices with broadband Internet connections or own mobile phones, anything they had to say about DIVISION OF LABOR, or PRICE FORMATION, or GAINS FROM TRADE must be irrelevant."). See, that's why you're a fuckwit. You make dumbshit statements like that,
 
When designing and building bridges, engineers don't cry, "But why should we study the physics from some guy like Newton who was born in 1643?"
 
What Adam Smith had to say about division-of-labor and specialization wasn't constrained to pin-making or farm work (two examples he used often in "Wealth of Nations"); they apply to any kind of productive work, anywhere, anyplace, anytime. They are universal, GENERAL insights regarding economics. The only people who deny that at this late date are ignoramuses or cranks.
 
Regarding charitable giving, the facts have long been known:
 
Under capitalism, free trade, economic freedom, low taxes, small government, and an ethos of self-reliance and individual responsibility, most people — not all, but most — exhibit great generosity toward those who are less fortunate than they, so long as government doesn't "crowd out" their impulse by taking over the business of charity. "Crowding out" is the technical term: it means, "as government assumes a certain activity, private individuals feel a decreasing desire to engage in that activity." Get it? Government action crowds out private action.
 
American citizens are still the most generous of any country's citizens in terms of voluntary charitable giving toward those who are less fortunate. The fact that the U.S. is not (yet) a full-blown European-style welfare state has a lot to do with it.
A. Jones Added Jan 6, 2019 - 1:30am
you’ll find that countries that you might consider Welfare States tend to be the most generally prosperous.
 
The exact opposite is the truth.
 
You might try doing a little homework on this before posting something stupid like that.
Neil Lock Added Jan 6, 2019 - 5:15am
Koshersalaami: I spent quite a bit of time in the US in 1983/4, and I had the impression the place was still pretty prosperous. At least in comparison to the UK, where Old Labour, with their combination of stagnation, inflation and high taxation during the late 1970s, had succeeded in reducing a lot of people to pauperhood. Most of all, people who had retired on fixed incomes. That was the period in which the burden of the UK welfare state started to become unsupportable for a lot of people. Combine that with the increasing trend for women to work, and you have the two-workers-per-family situation I referred to.
 
Countries that you might consider Welfare States tend to be the most generally prosperous. I see it as the other way round. It is in more prosperous countries that the political classes are more able to institute a welfare state, and so take more and more control over everyone's lives. Of course, the longer term effect is to squash the prosperity, while leaving the welfare millstone on everyone's backs.
 
Also you say, The day we approach destroying the rich is the day that point becomes relevant. We are ludicrously far from that. I think you have the situation bassackwards. It isn't the rich who are being destroyed today; the politically hip and their corporate cronies are doing better than ever. It's the people who deserve to be comfortably off, through their own efforts, who are being screwed.
Neil Lock Added Jan 6, 2019 - 5:21am
TBH: Thank you. But don't forget that you were the one who, a few months ago, reminded me of the word "asshole" as an appropriate one to use for those shysters! What comes around, goes around.
Ward Tipton Added Jan 6, 2019 - 5:27am
"You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.
"
 
Yup, none of these are relevant in the world today. For sure. Now where were we? Singing kumbaya?
Neil Lock Added Jan 6, 2019 - 5:29am
Ward: You (and, indeed I) understand that you can't do the things Boetcker spoke of. But the politicians think they can; and because they are part of a system that fails to hold them responsible, they go ahead and try to do them anyway. Instead of Ten Cannots, they see Ten Carrots they can use to buy unearned respect, votes and power.
Neil Lock Added Jan 6, 2019 - 5:41am
DoADeal: By "get shafted" I meant, in effect, that these people get back from the "deal" only negatives. (To be shafted means, in origin, to have an arrow shot through you).
 
And I don't agree with your positive view of the "public sector." In private business, if your customers don't like what you do, you will start to lose them, and you will have to reform. Public sector "services," on the other hand, are not subjected to this feedback. So they often tend to become expensive, bureaucratic, and unresponsive to (if not downright hostile to) the needs and desires of those who are forced to pay for them.
Neil Lock Added Jan 6, 2019 - 5:47am
A. Jones: Good points about Newton and Adam Smith. As to your last comment, please see my reply to Koshersalaami above.
Ward Tipton Added Jan 6, 2019 - 5:58am
"So they often tend to become expensive, bureaucratic, and unresponsive to (if not downright hostile to) the needs and desires of those who are forced to pay for them."
 
Sounds like someone got called out for special frisky frisking by TSA LOL
Leroy Added Jan 6, 2019 - 6:33am
"I know a lot of people which are 50+ and healthy but don't find a job anymore. They feel useless for society, because here your value as a human being is defined by what your work and what you earn. And if the dear overlord CEO's have a free pass to employ any youngbreed without experience for low wage and snub older experienced workers because they probably have to support family and would need a buck or so more - fuck them."
 
Recent employment gains in the US are overwhelmingly skewed towards older workers.  It debunks the idea that employers don't value experience.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 6, 2019 - 8:54am
Good. We're not there yet...
Leroy Added Jan 6, 2019 - 9:13am
It was also reported recently that 16% of Americans wanted to leave the US permanently.  That includes 40% of the women younger than 30 and 22% of those who disapprove of Trump.  It also includes 30% of the poorest 20%.  The preferred destination is Canada.
 
In the interest of reducing welfare in the US, I favor buying them tickets to the utopia of Canada, with one condition: they can't return, even for medical treatment.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jan 6, 2019 - 10:04am
Great idea Leroy! Lets send 'em all to Volek's place :) Smart move for Dave too, you know. Who ever thought of importing an electorate with allegiance to the party doing them the favor?  Great chance to settle the anxieties of those restless souls and assure a TDG seat in Canadian Parliament.
 
Today Calgary, tomorrow the World!
George N Romey Added Jan 6, 2019 - 11:10am
While our welfare system needs an overhaul it amazes me the people that say off with their head for public assistance have not one peep from about the $14 trillion conjured up and handed over to the big banks and investment firms to get them back to billion dollar profits and million dollar bonuses.  Not one criminal faced possible jail time.
 
Obama should have been known as the robber baron President, not the social welfare President.  I have to wonder when it comes time for another bailout what the price tag will be next time.  Of course all those innocent Americans that lose their job can just live in the streets and eat out of garbage cans. We certainly wouldn't want to send someone from the .01% to jail. Notice how both parties can't come up with the simplest of legislation but immediately found the means to come up with trillions to help their top campaign contributors.
Ward Tipton Added Jan 6, 2019 - 11:17am
"While our welfare system needs an overhaul it amazes me the people that say off with their head for public assistance have not one peep from about the $14 trillion conjured up and handed over to the big banks and investment firms to get them back to billion dollar profits and million dollar bonuses.  Not one criminal faced possible jail time."
 
We scream at the top of our lungs, but it never gets reported. It is not politically expedient and does not support their propagandist meme.
Do A Deal Added Jan 6, 2019 - 12:31pm
Neil Lock:
RE: "... By "get shafted" I meant, in effect, that these people get back from the "deal" only negatives. ... ..."
• How would they be shafted?
 
RE: "... In private business, if your customers don't like what you do, you will start to lose them ... ..."


RE: "... Public sector is responsive tot eh needs of voters.... ..."
• Are the following too expensive, unresponsive, and hostile to your needs?: pulling your children out of a burning building, forming the thin blue line between your wife and getting raped, building and repaving the roads and bridges you drive over, cleaning the toxic waste dump left by some failed job creator, making sure most folks on the road know the rules of the road and can see straight, winning WW2, invent the internet, fund and execute our basic research, making sure your dullard kids are educated and can be functioning adults....(infrastructure; alternative energy; high speed rail; rehire every teacher, fire fighter, cop laid off in last 8 years; quintuple trade school and community college staff - free tuition, free elder and child care
• Why do you hate your wife?
Neil Lock Added Jan 6, 2019 - 1:43pm
DoADeal: It is my normal policy not to delete any comments on my threads which demonstrate that the commenter is imbecile, or in your word "dullard." He who has eyes to read, let him read.
 
Oh, and I don't have a wife. So how can I hate her?
Dave Volek Added Jan 6, 2019 - 5:09pm
Leroy/TBH
Unfortunately, we have immigration laws in Canada that work reasonably well. We throw people out who bend the rules. Just because someone does not like Mr. Trump is a valid reason for immigration. These people would come back to the USA. 
 
And should I mention that we also prosecute businesses who hire illegal immigrants. So there's not much chance of finding underground employment. 
 
Not bad for a socialist country, right? 
 
 
 
Leroy Added Jan 6, 2019 - 6:16pm
" Just because someone does not like Mr. Trump is a valid reason for immigration."
 
I figured that it would be a valid reason for Canada.  "I hate Trump!"  "We do too!  Welcome, eh!"
Do A Deal Added Jan 6, 2019 - 7:53pm
Neil Lock: Why do you hate paved roads?  Do you also hate the troops?
 
A. Jones Added Jan 6, 2019 - 8:04pm
we also prosecute businesses who hire illegal immigrants. So there's not much chance of finding underground employment. 
 
Wrong.
 
"Penalties rare for companies that hire illegal migrant workers, lawyers say
JESSICA BARRETT, VANCOUVER SUN 03.18.2013
 
Companies that hire illegal migrant workers are seldom penalized for breaking the law, say immigration specialists.
 
Under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, employers who knowingly hire workers without proper documentation can face fines of up to $50,000 and two years in jail.
 
'The problem is employer sanctions are rarely applied,' said Zool Suleman, an immigration lawyer with more than 20 years’ experience.
 
'There’s a huge inequity in how this works.'
 
Unless employers have been found to routinely hire illegal workers on a wide scale or engage in other egregious conduct — such as human trafficking — they are often not pursued by Canada Border Services or Immigration Canada, Suleman said."
 
* * *
 
Not bad for a socialist country, right? 
 
I'd say there's about the expected mixture of 1/2 hypocrisy and 1/2 incompetence for a socialist country.
 
Of course, Canada is not technically "socialist", though if it makes your chest swell with pride to think so then by all means continue to think it's "socialist."
TexasLynn Added Jan 6, 2019 - 9:23pm
Really good post, Neil.  It is well reasoned and presented.  Sorry I'm coming late to the thread.
 
I'm kinda on the John Locke side of the argument.  I would parse his statement though.  Locke clearly says it is a sin to allow a brother to "perish".  Lock is talking about the necessities of literal life (like food and shelter), not the wants, desires and whims men come up with.  Charity (I would say Christian charity because I think Locke approaches it from this view) may give a destitute man clam on another plenty, but only "where he has no means to subsist otherwise."  Thus, logically, if the man has the means but not the want, the claim is void.
 
When it comes to the subject of charity, I have no choice but to approach the subject form my Christian faith.  So please indulge that take on the subject.  With that in mind, Jesus does command me (Christians) to provide for the poor and disabled.  "That which you do for the least of these (the poor) you did for Me."
 
But make no mistake about it.  That is a personal and church obligation.  Jesus did not say "Render unto Caesar half your wealth so that Caesar can give to those in need as he sees fit... after taking a good percentage of the take for his expense and trouble."
 
Today, our biggest problem is the definition of charity has been perverted over time.  In the day of Christ, the most common form of charity was farmers who would turn wide corners when they gathered their crops.  This meant that the corners and edges of the field of grain was left behind.  THIS was for the poor who could come, gather it, and be fed.  BUT nobody ever dreamed, they would not work for what they got.  The farmer would never gather it and hand it out.
 
Paul got it right when he said, "if any would not work, neither should he eat."  If we are ever to fix this broken mess, work and responsibility must return to the equation.
 
I'll briefly note that Christ also commands us to love our enemies.  This does not mean we allow them to abuse our nature, but rather hope/pray for change and give them opportunities to do so.
 
I'm a firm believer that "society" has an obligation to provide for the poor and disabled, but society does not equal government.  Government should never be involved in such for two reasons... 1) By its nature government will never been good/efficient at it AND 2) By its nature government will be corrupted by it.  If nothing else, history has proven this.
 
What government can do, is ensure there is a fair and level playing field in the free market (monopolies, monetary policy, etc.); then get out of the way.  Today, we get very little of that king of protection.
 
Instead governments of the secular world have convinced the masses that envy, punishing the rich, and redistribution of wealth is the same as charity and a societal safety net.  And what a coincidence that government is the natural agent to implement all such baser inclinations.
 
Thanks for the post and allowing me to give my unique perspective on the subject.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 6, 2019 - 10:20pm
Neil,
I answered the first few questions before reading the rest of the article.  Now that I've read the rest of the article, it hasn't changed my comment above.  It did highlight my main objection to the idea of government as moral authority, giving itself the power to steal from the many to support the few (especially itself).  The attitude that Robin Hood was a hero is part of the problem.  Robin Hood was a thief, and he got a hefty cut of the profits.  In other words, the poor got the crumbs from the goodies Robin Hood stole from the rich.
 
Same with government (s), which exists primarily to fund itself.  Your idea of savings is good, except that modern fiat money is not worth saving.  Inflation alone will bleed savings, so a big part of your ideal society must be founded on honest money and government that lives within its means.  Anyone who has to depend on the stock market for savings is gambling in a casino where the house always wins.  
 
Finally, there is no incentive to work any harder than necessary to make ends meet, because of taxation.  Maybe we need to re-think the 40-hour work week and be content to work less, earn less, spend less, and pay less in taxes.  This is another way to move toward income equality. 
 
In today's society, there are too many soul-deadening jobs, so "a job" is not necessarily an antidote to social assistance.  Those people are not necessarily "lazy" but skilled at working a dysfunctional system to questionable advantage.  There's plenty of work that needs to be done--just look at litter and potholes and tree branches in front of traffic lights, for instance--but the entities supposedly responsible for maintenance of public areas do not know how or don't care to treat workers right.  I could go into all the add-on costs of hiring, such as insurance, payroll taxes, etc, but it would make the comment too long.
 
 
FacePalm Added Jan 7, 2019 - 2:22am
DoADeal-
RE: "... The Fed is a private cartel owned by mostly-foreign banksters ... ..."
• This is of course total nonsense, but who cares?

 
Actually, not nonsense(either total or partial), but absolute truth.  However, you seem quite enamored of your ignorance, so who cares enough to educate you out of it?  Not me.  Stay stuck on stupid; it seems that you greatly enjoy it.
Ward Tipton Added Jan 7, 2019 - 3:52am
"The attitude that Robin Hood was a hero is part of the problem.  Robin Hood was a thief, and he got a hefty cut of the profits.  In other words, the poor got the crumbs from the goodies Robin Hood stole from the rich."
 
Actually, by some accounts, Robinhood merely reclaimed that which the people had been over-taxed ... and while he kept some for himself, he returned property that government had stolen to the people ... rather ironic that people would equate the government stealing more from the people to such an individual ... regardless of whether or not he was real. Rather akin to turning a man who gave his life to free the slaves, Uncle Tom ... into a derogatory commentary. 
 
"DoADeal-
RE: "... The Fed is a private cartel owned by mostly-foreign banksters ... "
 
Yeah, but no way someone so simple as Alan Greenspan would know as much about the fed as DoADeal would I am sure. 
Neil Lock Added Jan 7, 2019 - 5:34am
TexasLynn: Thank you for your kind words. To be commended for my article by Ryan Messano, Opher and now your good self, all on the same thread... now that's something!
 
You make a good point about Locke's condition of "no means to subsist otherwise." Yes, if poor people can work, then they should work. And if they choose not to work, then you don't have much if any of an obligation towards them. Another point I need to add at the next revision; thank you. (I see, indeed, that later in your comment you quoted St. Paul to almost exactly that effect).
 
I was interested to hear about the charitable activities of the farmers of 2,000 years ago. That's actually a very sane and sensible approach; "what the farmer has left standing, you can take if you need it." It will fit perfectly into my next planned major article, which will be about property and, in particular, land.
 
As to your Christian perspective, I think we come towards similar conclusions from different directions. I see doing what I can to help those who deserve it as a long term nett benefit to me. Biblically, it might be "cast thy bread upon the waters, and thou shalt find it again after many days." You, on the other hand, see it as a command from your religion.
 
I agree that government is not a good organization to get involved with providing for the poor and disabled. And that government should provide a free market and justice, then get out of the way. My one small disagreement is when you say that today's political governments, in the name of "charity" or "a societal safety net," punish the rich. It isn't actually the rich that get punished. As I said to George a long way up-thread: "It's the people who deserve to be comfortably off, through their own efforts, who are being screwed."
 
Once again, thanks for your most valuable thoughts.
Neil Lock Added Jan 7, 2019 - 5:49am
Katharine: Your idea of savings is good, except that modern fiat money is not worth saving. That was why I included, in my list of necessary pre-requisites for a sustainable welfare system, "a reasonably stable currency, which cannot be arbitrarily debauched."
 
Maybe we need to re-think the 40-hour work week and be content to work less, earn less, spend less, and pay less in taxes. I agree, and I myself (partly prompted by the bad tax law I referred to) did just that long ago. Though my preference is to work less weeks per year, rather than less hours per week. The problem with that approach - and I say this from personal experience - is that it only works as long as you are able to work. For example, as long as your eyesight is good enough. When old age really starts to hit, then you don't have enough of a reserve to live "in the manner to which you are accustomed" but without needing to work, for the last 20 or so years of your life. That's why I put savings at the very top of my list of pre-requisites.
 
Again, thank you for your valuable thoughts. Keep 'em coming!
Doug Plumb Added Jan 7, 2019 - 6:26am
Welfare was created to stop the poor from robbing the rich. You cannot talk about the welfare state in its own isolated context. If we were not dependent on slave labour, everyone would have a job and employers would compete for employees.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 7, 2019 - 6:28am
The state could easily afford to support students and others that cannot work. It would cost almost nothing. Our economy is in trouble because of all the wars and foreign occupations, as well as the slave labour that is employed in our economy - the Chinese children that make our cool stuff.
George N Romey Added Jan 7, 2019 - 7:58am
Again, how about the $14 trillion in welfare provided to the big banks from 2008 to 2015 (about when QE tapered off)?  In that case the money wasn't borrowed (like it is for traditional assistance programs) it was simply created by keystrokes on a computer.  So if we are going to make up money why not for the down and out rather than those that have more than enough.  Even the CEOs that were thrown out of jobs had tens of millions.  Give me a few million and I'd leave my job right here, right now.
 
How about an article on the real rip off of the US, not just a relatively few lazy cheats trying to get $800 a month in free benefits.
Ward Tipton Added Jan 7, 2019 - 8:33am
And laws like the Dodd Frank Act that mandated CEO bonuses as part of the government bailouts?
 
How about small farmers like John Deere and Caterpillar and the Rockefellers receiving millions for not growing crops? Like that? We have been railing against that as well, but more of those funds make their way back via political "campaign contributions" than you or I are capable of putting into our arguments against corporate welfare. 
 
How long before our new "radicals" in office get bought for the first time? I remember when Harry Reid was an idealist and supported 2nd Amendment rights and actually worked for the people in Nevada ... that ended pretty quick however. 
Koshersalaami Added Jan 7, 2019 - 8:42am
I think to a certain extent the case against welfare is a bit simplistic. If the question is: “Welfare: yes or no” I think the question can be answered by what a debater would call a “negative repairs” case, in this case meaning that refining the welfare system makes more sense than trashing it. Dave Volek and George Romey both point out above what the consequences of getting rid of welfare would be. There are reforms we need, such as finding work for the able bodied even if the government makes such work and not penalizing people on welfare who get ill-paying jobs by deducting their pay from their welfare checks, thereby removing their incentive to work. You get what you incentivize. 
 
Also, the idea that some of the money “disappears” makes no sense, only that one might lose track of where it went. The thing about Welfare is by the nature of the recipient population no recipient can afford to do anything with that money other than spending it. Spending it is a private sector function. The poorer one is, the faster they have to spend what they get or earn. It is tax breaks to the wealthy where money “disappears” because they save a lot of it, often in offshore accounts where it sure as Hell doesn’t do the country any good. Spent money creates jobs, reducing the need for welfare and increasing the number of taxpayers, making welfare and everything else easier to afford, and increasing the number and size of customers. 
 
The worst financial problem we have here is all that unproductive money in the hands of the very wealthy at the same time that the current powers that be, emphatically including the President, have been exacerbating the problem and trying to exacerbate it more. If nothing else, government has proven to be more effective at redistributing money than the private sector has. When economies are left very free market, like 1900 America or immediately post-Soviet Russia, money tends to concentrate. 
 
Right now, it’s way too concentrated to optimize the economic performance of this country. You can look around the world and find consistently that the healthiest countries have healthy middle classes because any economy depends on a lot of people spending steadily - that’s what keeps businesses open and prospering. Our middle class now has hardly any of our money, and forget about our poor. The wealthiest 40% of the population has over 95% of our wealth. The poorest 40% has 1/3 of 1% of our wealth. How can you look at those numbers and conclude that our problem is how much money the government is giving to a population more like the poorest 20% of our population, which incidentally collectively has 1/10 of 1% of our wealth, or 1/1000 of our wealth for 1/5 of our population? 
 
This concern is so upside down. From an economic standpoint, our biggest problem is not the undeserving poor or even government, because everything government spends ends up in the private sector; it’s the undeserving rich. Our inheritance taxes, which need to be increased substantially, are under attack for existing. An inheritance tax free Eric Trump would do more damage to our economy by himself than a big proportion of the welfare recipient population. 
 
Why are you so much more offended by the undeserving poor than by the undeserving rich? At least the undeserving poor have genuine needs while the undeserving rich are doing so much more damage to our economy. Yeah, I see the lip service - “I care about abuse both ways” - but the posts mostly go one way, treating the government giving more money to the poor as our biggest problem. 
 
Please. Money going to a population worth 1/1000 of our money is not our biggest problem. And that assumes that 20% of America’s population is on public assistance. But even if it’s higher than that, if we double the population to the poorest 40%, we’re still only talking about 3/1000 of our money. Get real. Somewhere along the line, we should be paying less attention to those stealing pennies than those stealing houses. 
 
By the way, as a liberal Democrat, those who fault President Obama with going along with this are right. His refusal to prosecute in the aftermath of the mortgage crisis was criminal, so this behavior clearly isn’t limited to Republicans. 
 
Please stop reacting so viscerally to what bothers you philosophically and follow the money. This is the flip side of bleeding heart liberalism: conservativism that is emotionally blinded by anger at the undeserving poor, more willing to spend $10 to imprison someone than 1$ to help them. 
TexasLynn Added Jan 7, 2019 - 10:32am
Neil L >> To be commended for my article by Ryan Messano, Opher and now your good self, all on the same thread... now that's something!
 
Don't make me take it back. :)
 
It is refreshing to see Opher on the right side of an issue... but there is still the socialism and redistribution of wealth thing.
 
Neil L >> I was interested to hear about the charitable activities of the farmers of 2,000 years ago.
 
The practice was key to the story Ruth (Old Testament).  Ruth was a young widow who took care of her mother-in-law (also widowed).  She went out in the fields to "glean" grain left for the poor.  Her selfless dedication to her mother-in-law and her work ethic caught the attention of the wealthy land owner.  He married her, and their lineage led to King David (and eventually Jesus, the Christ, from the Christian perspective).
 
Neil L >> Biblically, it might be "cast thy bread upon the waters, and thou shalt find it again after many days." You, on the other hand, see it as a command from your religion.
 
There is, of course, a symmetry between Jewish tradition and Christian.  It is my understanding of the quote to mean be ready to do a good deed, EVEN if you expect nothing in return.  Perhaps the precursor to "whatsoever a man sows, that shall he reap."  Do good to receive good in the cosmic scheme of things.
 
So, yes, I am commanded to be charitable; because being so is not natural human nature.  Selfishness is.  At the same time, I'm told that such charity is a treasure laid up in heaven and much more valuable than any reward here on earth. 
 
Neil L >> I agree that government is not a good organization to get involved with providing for the poor and disabled.
 
Understanding the nature of government and men is key to a good society.  We've lost a lot of that.
 
Neil L >> My one small disagreement is when you say that today's political governments, in the name of "charity" or "a societal safety net," punish the rich.
 
I don't think we're in too much disagreement.  I meant, "punish the rich" is the justification and motivation, not necessarily the result.
Koshersalaami Added Jan 7, 2019 - 12:07pm
Ruth is 3,100 years ago. King David’s great grandmother. 
TexasLynn Added Jan 7, 2019 - 12:35pm
KosherS, Yes... but it is my understanding that gleaning the fields was practiced well past the days of Christ.
The Owl Added Jan 7, 2019 - 2:55pm
"The "welfare state" steals from the individual to provide the welfare without giving the individual credit for his/her charity.  In other words, the current attitude seems to be "Why should I help my fellow man, give to charity, or feed the homeless if the state is stealing my money to do it?" - Katherin Otto
 
Why should I put in a lengthy comment when Katherine's remarks sum up my feelings on the matter.
 
The only addition I would make is that there is an equivalent attitude on the side of the welfare recipients:  "Why should I take personal responsibility when the state will do it for me?"
 
The first is clearly the attitude of those that oppose the welfare state.  And the second is highly likely the reason why we have poured trillions and trillions of dollars at the problems with little or no progress in the fights against poverty and ignorance.
Dave Volek Added Jan 7, 2019 - 3:13pm
Kosher
 
A fine response indeed.
 
Another anecdote to the poor circulating their money better is the recent raise in minimum wage in Alberta. A little over a year ago, the wage went from $12.50 to $15.00 an hour, a 20% raise. As predicted, the business community was against this move citing dire consequences for the economy, which is predicted by classical economics: increase the cost and demand drops.
 
But the sky did not fall. Fast-food joints and hotels are still operating in my town. Business owners are not moving to Somalia where they have lower taxes and fewer regulations.
 
My hypothesis is that give a 20% raise to the working poor, that money tends to circulate in the local economy, giving more prosperity for other working poor, who then circulate that money. Give a 20% raise to the CEO class, the money goes to sports cars and resorts, far away from the local economy.
 
Having said all that, I don't think the Alberta government should not have raised the minimum wage so quickly. And I am a proponent of Guaranteed Basic Income, which should make a minimum wage (or raises to the minimum wage) redundant.
 
Koshersalaami Added Jan 7, 2019 - 3:41pm
The CEO class doesn’t even put that much of it into sports cars and overseas resorts. They put it into obscure financial instruments or hide it overseas. At least the sports car purchases gives money to someone, including someone here because of dealerships. Resorts if not in the US or a US property? Not so much. 
Dave Volek Added Jan 7, 2019 - 4:21pm
Kosher
 
Whether the CEO class puts their 20% raise into sports cars or offshore accounts, that is money that leaves the local community. It may stimulate the economy somewhere else (or it might not), but the local people see little benefit.
 
Maybe another way to put this is that $1 in the hands of the working poor circulates much more than $1 in the hands of the wealthy; i.e. more transactions.
George N Romey Added Jan 7, 2019 - 4:42pm
The CEO class spends far less of its money proportionally than the bottom 50%.  We should also make a distinction between the "CEO class" and the "investor class."  The former actually works hard for a living albeit it could be argued no more than the guy trying to make it go on two $12 jobs.  Yes, of course the content of the jobs are different, one mental stress the other likely physical stress.
 
The point is the CEO class may not buy 6 homes or 12 cars because with an 80 hour work week most of that "excess" would be useless.  Now the investor class (typically those lucky enough to be born into extreme wealth) might not have those kind of responsibilities.  I've had friends in the "investor class."  Yes they busy themselves with often visits to the gym, hobbies maybe some charity work but for the most part they have the opportunity to actually enjoy 6 different homes.  
 
The velocity of money is said to be as much as 3x.  My all means the class that spend most of their paycheck are on the higher end.  Those shoving it into CDOs, stocks, bonds, business ventures, etc. far less.  
Koshersalaami Added Jan 7, 2019 - 5:21pm
Exactly. So giving them tax breaks doesn’t really buy the economy much - it’s about the worst place money can land. Even if the government is buying buildings, all the construction, materials, labor, everything is private sector, so a lot goes to wages and employment. (And, in turn, to taxes that come back and reduce deficits without raising taxes.) 
 
The only case putting money in the hands of the extremely wealthy would make sense is if there were a shortage of capital and that shortage was preventing business expansion. In other words, if investors couldn’t get their hands on enough money to invest, employment could suffer. But that is not our problem. This is precisely why the Bush tax cut produced a Jobless Recovery: When people got tax cuts, they didn’t invest in ventures that hired people. 
 
Why not? If we follow normal investor logic, it’s because the return wasn’t there. Why wouldn’t it be? Because demand is soft. Why would demand be soft?
 
Because 40% of our population has 0.3% of our wealth, meaning that for a lot of businesses they’re AWOL as customers. 
 
And many are on Welfare.
 
This reminds me of the old song There’s A Hole In The Bucket
FacePalm Added Jan 7, 2019 - 6:58pm
Tex-
It is my understanding of the quote to mean be ready to do a good deed, EVEN if you expect nothing in return.
 
My younger brother(now deceased) made a lasting impression on me when he said "If you give and expect anything at all in return, even gratitude, you never 'gave' at all; you invested."
 
As much as i hated to admit it, he was - and is - right.  When one TRULY gives, they let go of any expectations.  One may HOPE, but expectations lead to disappointments, then resentments, then often a shutting-down of the charitable spirit.
 
Christ calls us to give even to our enemies..."If you love only them that love you, what reward have you?" is coming to mind, here.
Logical Man Added Jan 7, 2019 - 7:26pm
Doug, your points are well made.
The banking system we suffer under is the root cause of everything you mention.
Time for laws to be applied in the same manner to both rich and poor and bring back the 'death' penalty for corporations.
Make banking serve humanity as a whole and almost all the world's problems would go away and there'd be enough spare cash to fund answers to most of the rest.
 
Dave Volek Added Jan 7, 2019 - 9:07pm
George
 
Thanks for clarifying the different between the CEO and investor classes. Your points are well taken. It seems you, Kosher, and I are on the same page as to which economic class is best at circulating the money.
 
 
FacePalm Added Jan 7, 2019 - 11:20pm
KS-
The way i understand that things work for the VERY wealthy is that they form either a corporation or a foundation, then put the majority of their assets in one or the other legal instrument(or both, or several, or dummy corporations, etc.), then they have the "use of" the assets, but not the ownership thereof.
 
Sometimes, the assets are to be shared with some board members, but it's your choice who you put on that board - so if you pick people who are already wealthy, they have their own stuff.  This is a way to avoid inheritance taxes, as well.
Koshersalaami Added Jan 8, 2019 - 1:49am
The laws allow this. That’s one of the problems. 
 
How did the laws get that way? Who wrote them? Sometimes industries write their own laws and someone in Congress introduces them verbatim. 
 
This is a bigger deal than welfare. What did the crowds chant at Trump rallies when he ran? Drain The Swamp. He stocked it. This was the one area where he really did betray his supporters and didn’t keep the faith. 
FacePalm Added Jan 8, 2019 - 2:18am
KS-
i just heard that Trump is going to give an Address to the nation tomorrow nite, 9PM EST.
Pretty sure he's going to declare a State of Emergency and explain that Democrat intransigence in the face of a "clear and present danger" in re: immigrants carrying drugs, disease, and crime has necessitated this action.
But i hope he goes farther, MUCH farther. 
Do you have any idea of what powers the president my exercise by law in a State of Emergency?  i have an outdated list, but you can bet that power-mad preznits like the Shrub and D'OhBama put a helluva lot in there that they now wish they had NOT - but it's too late.
 
As to your point about the corporate entities, i'm hip.  The larger corporations long ago implemented a strategy called "effect government capture," and writing the regs which "govern" their industry is exactly what they do, hiring people who write in the typical IRS regs language so no one bothers to read the damned things (virtually impenetrable mazes, they are, and on purpose), which gives the corps that effected gov't capture the power to not only stay on top, but sabotage and persecute any competitors which may arise, too.  For example, a competitor may suddenly find themselves being audited every year for the next ten, and then the FTC or DEA or BATF or INS or ICE or DOE or any of a dozen other agencies may "all of a sudden" decide that the competitor is in need of some rousting and "investigations."  Happens every day.
Neil Lock Added Jan 8, 2019 - 5:45am
Koshersalaami: I wasn't arguing against welfare per se. Indeed, I explicitly put forward ideas for what I called a "sane, sustainable" welfare system. What I do have a beef with is politicized welfare. And I really don't think that my position can reasonably be described as "simplistic." As to "reacting viscerally to what bothers you philosophically," that kind of thing works both ways.
 
I wouldn't agree that spending is a private sector function. Anyone who has money can spend it. Creating well-being is something people and companies in the private sector can do. Government usually fails to do that because, unlike in the private sector, the people who are forced to pay for it have little or no come-back when (as usual) it fails to deliver what they want.
 
And I laughed when you said: government has proven to be more effective at redistributing money than the private sector has. Too true! The private sector, when properly run and with no political interference, doesn't re-distribute anything at all; it merely trades. But government is, indeed, extremely effective at re-distributing other people's money. Most of all, to itself; and second, to its cronies, like the big company CEOs and "investor class" for whom you show such (justified) contempt.
 
And the cost of welfare is way bigger than the figures you give like 1/1000 of the wealth. Last year, 34% of all UK government spending went on welfare. Given that nett tax rates are pretty close to 50%, that's one-sixth of every penny that was earned. That's not peanuts.
Neil Lock Added Jan 8, 2019 - 5:52am
Owl: You speak of an attitude on the side of the welfare recipients:  "Why should I take personal responsibility when the state will do it for me?" 
 
You have given us the other side of Katharine's coin, and that's spot on too. I did put, in my list of convivial actions, "Taking responsibility for directing your life." But maybe I should make your point more clearly, when I next update the article. Thank you.
George N Romey Added Jan 8, 2019 - 7:54am
In the US welfare is well below a third of government spending.  Of course we have a hegemony we need to fund and that takes a trillion plus a year.  
 
In a perfect world one's efforts would yield equal results.  But the world isn't perfect.  People forget that pre FDR how the poor, disabled and elderly were treated in this country.  Inner cities were typical of San Francisco today, littered with unfortunates.  Do we want our communities to look like San Francisco? In a perfect world family or private charities could adequately look after the disabled or ill but that's not the reality.
 
However, the system as it is encourages the lazy to remain so, even if living (and coping) with social assistance would completely turn off most people. So the question is how do we get people back to self sufficiency and make it clear that the welfare state isn't here for you to live on permanently.
 
Take single mothers.  Poor women know that children in the welfare system become like little ATM machines.  However, children are not ATM machines and having an unprepared parent will almost definitely set that child up for failure.  So how about if a single mother wants support she agrees to have a state funded operation to prevent further pregnancies?  And she has a limited time to get her act together.
 
Now of course such common sense legislation would be called bigoted and racists.  Any politician suggesting same would be labeled even worse.  So common sense approaches will never happen.  Politicians like to use the poor as political footballs because they are an easy mark.
Koshersalaami Added Jan 8, 2019 - 9:24am
Neil,
I have to remember you’re in the UK, not the US. They are very different with very different histories. What the National Trust has done there is nothing like what would be done here. 
 
I don’t know much about welfare in the UK. One thing I don’t know is if the stereotypes get racial like they do here, which has some effect on attitudes toward welfare. 
 
Also, certainly on this site, there are a lot of people who really do want to get rid of welfare. My apologies for making assumptions about you. 
Stone-Eater Added Jan 8, 2019 - 10:32am
People who want to get rid of welfare are typically not on it....
 
Here in Switzerland we have welfare. One can eat a good healthy meal once a day or cook junk three times, buy some clothes once a year, use public transport and pay a single room or a 1-bedroom-apartment depending on where he lives. He better not smoke, that's expensive, but a half-liter can of beer costs about 40 cents in the supermarket (not a good way to keep depressed poor people in the working process.....).
 
But from the day one he gets payments, he has to look for a job and show the applications he did a month - a minimum of 15. At the same time he is obliged to public work - clean streets, work in recycling, in the forest or other work that demand minimum education. If he refuses, welfare is cut by up to 30% - and that's much.
 
I think that's a good system. Of course, handicapped or sick people are excempt from that.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 8, 2019 - 10:42am
BTW: When you're on welfare you're not allowed to have a car, because there's about the best public transport in the world we have. You have the right to work for an annual salary of US$ 6'000 surplus if you can. Your bank account is controlled each year, and the savings amount is not allowed to be over US$ 4'000, if it is, they will not only ask you where that comes from but also they will cut your welfare accordingly.
 
So being on welfare here is like being a little kid that's under family control. Not many people like that LOL
 
Of course there's a black work market as well if you happen to have a job that is in demand. Just gotta be careful how you stack that money. With the cashless society coming I see problems coming for a lot of poor people mowing the neighbor's front yard for a couple of bucks....
Stone-Eater Added Jan 8, 2019 - 10:47am
BTW2: Now if you ask me why I know all these details....because I was on welfare for 3 years before so I know, and now I counsel people who are on the dole and help them to get a job by writing CV's and looking for a job. Mostly people who are foreigners and are not fluent in German or have very little or zero diplomas, work certificates and references, and come from countries from Albania to Zimbabwe.
Dave Volek Added Jan 8, 2019 - 11:55am
Neil
 
I would say that if you were against "politicized welfare", your original article did a poor job of staking out that position. I thought you were leaning towards a total abandonment of all social assistance programs.
 
Maybe I read something in the wrong way, but that was the first impression I got. I suggest a substantial re-write to make your position clear.
 
Dave Volek Added Jan 8, 2019 - 12:10pm
Stone
 
Welfare in Canada is not easy either. We do allow TV's with cable and cellphones as part of the "basic living". But not much else. If there is a car, it is usually only an old car and is not driven very much. Quite often, the car cannot be insured and sits in the parking lot. If the recipient cannot make the rent and utility payments, the social agency takes over this responsibility. The recipient gets this payment deducted from the benefits. In other words, the recipient is treated like a little kid. 
 
 
If the recipient is more responsible, the social agency does not question the use of money. Often recipients have a vice or two (cigarettes are common). Vices are not put into the calculations of the benefits to be received.  If a vice continues, that is a good sign that the recipient may be getting cash elsewhere or he/she is on a cheap low-quality diet.
 
I know the Alberta government tried a "work-fare" program a couple of decades ago. But knowing how damaged many welfare recipients are, it probably cost a lot to watch over these people who have little motivation. It is just cheaper to pay them $1000 a month than hiring someone to hold them somewhat accountable.
 
 
Dave Volek Added Jan 8, 2019 - 12:12pm
And I should add that I have not heard any welfare recipients deliberately having children to get an increase in welfare payments. 
 
I suspect this is a myth perpetuated by anti-welfare advocates.
 
 
George N Romey Added Jan 8, 2019 - 12:54pm
Dave I suggest you watch the movie "Precious."  It's about a welfare family, including a young girl that has a child out of wedlock.  It's a very realistic story of ingrained generational poverty within African American communities.  And BTW it was directed by Lee Daniels, some that grew up in the "hood."
Dave Volek Added Jan 8, 2019 - 3:35pm
George
 
I went to Wikipedia and its version of the plot of this movie. According to Wikipedia, there was some lying about who was living with whom in order to maximize welfare payments. But I didn't see a deliberate attempt to get pregnant just to get more welfare.  Maybe Wikipedia is wrong.
 
Most unintentional pregnancies are often caused by an eventual failing belief that "we won't get caught this time." Poor people are not immune from this thinking. I would hypothesize that when single girls from poverty get pregnant, this trumps the "let's get more money from the government" mindset. 
 
This was a dysfunctional family probably from a dysfunctional community. If there is any thinking about a pregnancy scams, the issue will not be resolved by blaming the girl for faulty thinking.
 
 
 
George N Romey Added Jan 8, 2019 - 4:48pm
In the movie the girl's mean spirited mother is on her to go down to the welfare office now that the girl can get more welfare since she has a child.  Sadly the girl dreams of a better life but with a child now she carries on with generational poverty.
 
The blunt truth is that Aid to Dependents (or whatever its called here in the US) pays per child.  It's more complicated than just money but that's a factor.  It's low self esteem, ignorance, and a moral code that says having children you can't provide for is ok because that's what government is there for.
 
Look I've been in the social welfare system in the US.  There are those that are willing to accept welfare even as it ensures a horrible existence and strips away human pride.  Unfortunately too many case workers will tell a young person to aim only for a $10 an hour job and let the government provide the rest.  Hell I was told that by more than one case worker.  I've seen these young girls beat their children senseless and call them every swear word in the book.  No wonder these children have no hope.  Within the inner city (and increasingly in destroyed small towns that are far more white) the narrative is a young man is told is to join a gang, go to jail or die young.  A young girl is told have children because its the only thing that will ever really be yours.  It all has lead to generational poverty that I doubt will ever be wiped out.
Dave Volek Added Jan 10, 2019 - 1:34pm
George
Then government has failed its people. It's time for a new system.
A. Jones Added Jan 11, 2019 - 8:20pm
The blunt truth is that Aid to Dependents . . . pays per child.
 
That's correct.
 
But when more and more women find themselves pregnant, that's not because they're engaging in a "scam" as Volek believes. It's the result of a welfare system that promotes perverse incentives for people; i.e., it "nudges" people (incentivizes them) to make choices about their actions and their lives that they would not have made in the absence of such legislation.
 
During the heyday of its welfare-state system, Sweden used to provide free abortions to anyone who wanted them. Result? More and more young, unmarried Swedish girls were getting "unintentionally" pregnant and, of course, demanding the free abortion service provided by the state (that is, by the Swedish taxpayers).
 
It was a perfect example of moral hazard: if you subsidize risk by socializing the cost of taking that risk, it creates a strong incentive for more and more people to take that particular risk, since they know the cost of doing so is borne by other people (taxpayers), and not themselves.
 
Moral hazard is a standard, operating concept in the field of insurance; it turns out, however, that it has wide application in the social sciences, as well.