We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Benefits should be a safety net for the most vulnerable, not a lifestyle choice.

- The TaxPayers’ Alliance

To be honest I am far from convinced tax funded safety nets can ever not end up becoming a ‘lifestyle choice’ for a great many people, but all journeys start with little steps and it is a nice effective slogan.

47 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Mr Ed

    Benefits, a trampoline to totalitarianism, a step to serfdom and a passport to poverty.

  • James Strong

    @ Mr Ed.
    ‘Benefits, a trampoline to totalitarianism, a step to serfdom and a passport to poverty.’
    Maybe so, but how would you respond to the response from non-readers of this blog who might say ‘So you’d let people starve in the street. would you?’

    My solution would be to slash taxes, slash benefits and hope charities, ideally local charities,would provide the necessary help. But wnhat if charities didn’t spring up?
    I’d also slash unskilled immigration and I’d stop mohammedan immigration completely. I’m a long way from being ideologically pure in terms of free movement of people, but I think open borders is a pink fluffy aspiration that is just absurd until traffic is equal in all directions.
    Recently I saw how many people can respond to ideas like yours when I advocated the abolition of the NHS. It ended with one of my interlocutors storming off swearing, and I was accused of wanting to return the poor to 19th century squalor and disease.

    You’ve got a big job on your hands to convince people of your view.
    Do you want to take it on?

  • Mr Ed

    James, indeed you have a point. The effects of the Edwardian Liberal government are still felt today, the virtual wiping out of the Friendly Societies and mutuality and the replacement of personal responsibility with dependence has not only changed the incentives to people, but in some ways the population itself, as the numbers of people who are able to live uneconomic and parasitical existences has increased. I heard Norman Tebbit say to that Druid Archbishop that when he and the Druid were young, the sort of people who were 3rd generation benefit dependants simply did not exist. Their ancestors had managed to cope, so why cannot they?

    Would I leave people to starve in the street? Only if they were predators seeking to steal my or others’ property. Would you cook a burglar a meal and say ‘help yourself’?

    The riposte to the question of ‘Would you leave people to starve in the street?’ if the answer is ‘Yes’, then what is the problem? If the answer is ‘No, but I can’t afford to help’, I say, look at your wage packet and add back in income tax and National Insurance and put that aside, look at your shopping bills and where £1 in £6 is VAT, put that aside. Now you have funds with which you, and the many other decent folk like you, may help others. Why do you think your fellow citizens would not help? If they will not help voluntarily, why should you rely on them to support a welfare state with all its arbitrary rules, cruelties and inefficiencies. What if people vote against welfare, what will become of the feckless? What if the State goes bust, what will those on welfare do when the bank transfer stops, if unwilling to work?

    And if you gave your money to help those for whom dependancy was a lifestyle choice, would you ask for something in return? Some effort? You would be free not to ask for anything, put up a sign offering free money, and see if you get a queue, and see how long your money lasts, and what good it does. We live in a world of scarcity, we need economic work to be done if we are to survive, that we can never escape, we need some to do economic work, or we all perish.

    Examples of public subscription providing everything from lifeboats, to St John’s Ambulance to vintage V Bombers show that people will and do help others in common causes.

    Perhaps as a starting point, we could ‘offer’ to billet long-term dole layabouts in the houses of Guardian readers. Any takers?

  • Paul Marks

    There were no compulsory poor rates (taxes) in most of Scotland before 1845 – not even in Glasgow.

    People did not starve in the streets – people such as the Rev. Chalmers (the sort of Christian who showed his concern for the poor with his own hands – rather than making political speeches as “Progressive Christians” do) made sure that people did not starve on the streets.

    There was also little or no state welfare in France till the very late 19th century – yet France was not known as a place where vast number immigrants fled from to escape staving on the streets.

    However, in Ireland there was a large scale government Poor Law in the 19th century and massive “infrastructure” schemes as well – and this worked out so well……. errr accept it did not work out well at all (lots of dead people actually).

    The left blame the dead on “Laissez-Faire” – rather hard to fit with the reality of the Royal Irish Police riding round (with rifles on their backs) collecting the Poor Rate. And the government also building roads to no place, and bridges to no where (concentrating the poor together on the schemes – where sickness got them).

    However, it is not true that all government welfare schemes expand over time.

    The old Poor Law (under such Acts as that of 1782) did indeed expand out of control – the Speenhamland insanity (like “Tax Credits” today – wage subsidies).

    But the new Poor Law (under the Act of 1835) did not expand (as a percentage of the economy) over time, partly because it was controlled by local board for whom ONLY POOR LAW RATEPAYERS could vote (people could not just vote themselves higher benefits – as the people who got the benefits could not vote).

    Also although twice as many people were on “out relief” as “in relief” (i.e. for every 50 people in the Workhouse there were 100 people on benefits outside the Workhouse – under the NEW, not just the old, Poor Law) the threat of “go asking for money and they will send you to the Workhouse” was very real to people.

    The basic reason why the Fabians (the authors of the “Minority Report” – against the Majority Report of people such as C.S. Locke who helped the poor with their own hands, rather than making political speeches) hated the Poor Law was because spending on it did NOT expand out of control in the late 19th century.

    So they changed things in the 20th century (created an entirely new system) in order that spending WOULD expand out of control.

    Our civilisation is not dying a natural death – it is being murdered.

  • Recently I saw how many people can respond to ideas like yours when I advocated the abolition of the NHS. It ended with one of my interlocutors storming off swearing, and I was accused of wanting to return the poor to 19th century squalor and disease.

    I get that sometimes too. I usually lead with “if the NHS is the ‘envy of the world’, why are its survival rates for all manner of things so inferior to those of a number of other First World nations, and moreover why have so few places, such as that bastion of free market capitalism France, declined to go the whole hog with socialist medical care? I mean only an idiots thinks the alternative to an NHS is no healthcare system at all!”

    I find that works quite well surprisingly often. But yes, a lot just react with spluttering outrage because the notion is heresy, and the mere fact something may be true does not stop it being heresy.

  • On the NHS thing most people think the alternatives are:

    1. US style 100% private provision of high quality, but great expense
    2. No healthcare provision as before the NHS in 1945

    The fact that neither of the above is true and also that other models exist and have better patient outcomes at lower or equivalent cost (e.g. French Public/Private model, Swiss regulated insurance model, etc.) is being deliberately held from debate because the fully socialised NHS model cannot be questioned.

    The net result is that people are dying because of political self-censorship on all sides on the NHS.

  • Yeah, the NHS is one of the sacred cows in Britain which even otherwise rational people turn a bit funny about. Others are the BBC, and the concept of living in a place without a patch of concrete laughably called a garden. Foreigners find all this rather puzzling, a bit like I find aspects of French culture bewildering.

  • I have a vague memory of an honest politician (I think, Dutch) saying something like “We made a safety net, but they’re using it for a hammock.”

    Whatever the attribution, it’s a pungent way to put it.

  • CaptDMO

    Tax funded safety nets.
    And of course, “other” safety nets that are NOT taxed are considered “subsidized” by “certain” activists that call themselves Economists.
    Naturally, “acadamia” must divest from Israeli, oil, coal, meat, based investment, by DEMAND from “useful” students, Union retirement “investment” must be in
    lower return Union labor, 401(k)s must (somehow) exclude (very high returns, thanks to response to “common sense” infringement attempts)gun and ammo manufacturers. On and on…..
    Naturally, what’s left is minimal “retirement” safety net, an astonishing expected “liabilities” tab that magically doesn’t appear on the deficit, or National Debt Clock, and a magical new “source” called higher minimum wage/higher education loan repayment profits that vaporize as hidden taxes infest an ever broadening value added, every step of the way, cost of living “index”.
    But don’t worry, those “old people” aren’t likely to take up arms against those “free” (ahem) municipal armored personnel carriers, or (ie)Bureau of Land “Management”/IRS, eminent domain enforcement partners. Just ONE “nod” from a (now gub’mint paid) licensed medical provider, with “immunity”, and they can’t even drive to the peaceful protest.
    Here’s your pellet.

  • Jerry

    ‘as the people who got the benefits could not vote).’

    Should be applied across the board.
    If you don’t pay any taxes ( and we have a LOT of those over here ), then you don’t vote. Period.
    If you don’t contribute, why should you have ANY say-so in a government that you are not paying for ??

  • phil

    Tax funded safety nets are a safety device for everyone.

    Remove the benefit safety net and employers will be utterly ruthless and treat many people like sh*t.

    This is already beginning to happen, and not just to the low skilled.

    Good terms and conditions at work for most people depend on the benefit safety net.

  • Good terms and conditions at work for most people depend on the benefit safety net

    No, they really don’t, that depends on something states hate… lots of competition. When employers have to compete for workers, they also need to treat them well.

    But of course states prefer a few large oligopolistic employers (who are often shits) rather than many, many competing employers, because the moment you cannot get all the significant players from a given industry around a single table that a government minister can chat with, states start to think people might get the idea that the state is not actually ‘running’ the economy.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Thanks to the good work of Willem Adema, i learned that the UK spends almost the same percentage of GDP on welfare as Denmark.
    So why does Denmark get so much more bang for the buck?
    I don’t know for sure, but my (falsifiable) theory is: because Denmark spends more money on the welfare police than it spends on national defense, while the UK just throws money out of the window. The welfare state can only work when combined with a bit of fascism.

    NB: i don’t recommend the Danish approach: better to abolish welfare altogether; but still, i must admit that the Danish approach is the lesser evil.

  • CaptDMO

    First, can we separate “benefits” and (social)”Safety Net” (welfare)?
    Why was it that US companies first started offering (ie)insurance benefits to lure/retain folks that would actually work for them?
    Hint: It involved the gub’mint legislatively “addressing” income inequality with Socialist “economic” (political science) theory.

  • Pardone

    They are certainly a lifestyle choice for parasitic private landlords who sponge off the state, costing the taxpayer a fortune.

    “No, they really don’t, that depends on something states hate… lots of competition. When employers have to compete for workers, they also need to treat them well.”

    This is why the CBI are big fans of immigration. Indeed, its why politicians, in the pocket of corporate backers, are very pro-immigration.

  • Laird

    CaptDMO, your “hint” is incorrect; in the US (anyway) employer insurance had nothing to do with “socialist economic theory”. It arose during WW2 when wage controls were in effect, and the government agreed to “look the other way” when companies offered the in-kind benefit of health insurance as an inducement to the recruitment of workers.

  • They are certainly a lifestyle choice for parasitic private landlords who sponge off the state, costing the taxpayer a fortune.

    So stop paying tax funded welfare to the rent payer and… voila… no problem, right?

    This is why the CBI are big fans of immigration. Indeed, its why politicians, in the pocket of corporate backers, are very pro-immigration.

    Actually once you get rid of the welfare state, open immigration really makes a great deal of sense once the state gets out of the way and civil society is actually allowed to function.

  • NB: i don’t recommend the Danish approach: better to abolish welfare altogether; but still, i must admit that the Danish approach is the lesser evil.

    I disagree. I prefer it to fail due to a lack of the required authoritarianism.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I prefer it to fail due to a lack of the required authoritarianism.

    Yes, that’s an option, but we don’t know what will happen when the welfare system fails: it might be replaced by full-blown fascism. (See Road to Serfdom.)

  • I think “full-blown fascism” is just as likely if the welfare system ‘succeeds’ (which of course begs the question of what exactly has ‘succeeded’).

  • CaptDMO

    Laird.
    “…when wage controls were in effect ”
    PROHIBITING companies from offering higher wages, in competition for actually competent labor
    Feel free to “rethink” that.
    Several other (non-communist)”economists” have.
    Google, Independent Institute, (or Wiki, ONLY if you ABSOLUTELY MUST).

  • Lee Moore

    1. Mr Ed was discussing the “starting point”, ie voluntary support for t’poor having atrophied as a result of the welfare state, how would you start back on the road to sanity ? I think THE essential first step is workfare, ie making benefits dependent on labour. You don’t have to start with all benefits and all claimants. You could start with the under 25s. If you lack the imagination to think up useful labour for them, that’s OK. You can just get claimant A to bury twenty one pound coins six feet down. And then get claimant B to dig his benefit up. Most of the current chatter about incentives and the poverty trap fails to take proper account of the cost of employment to the worker – you have to work. Why work if you can only get another £5 a week because of benefit withdrawal ? But that’s only a trap if you don’t have to work, harder and in grubbier conditions, at more inconvenient times, to earn your benefit. If the equation is converted from £150 a week for 40 hours of grubby boring unskilled labour (unskilled employment) vs. £120 a week for 45 hours of slightly grubbier, slightly more boring unskilled labour (digging up your benefits with a shovel) even the idlest benefit scrounger will have a real incentive to seek a job.

    Once you’ve got the system working for the under 25s, you can extend it to older folk. And then the “disabled.” The ones for whom imposing a labour condition is impractical – the genuinely disabled – also happen to be the ones where it is unnecessary. Politically the great benefit of workfare is that it is popular. ie if asked “but what if someone refuses to do the work required to get their benefits, would you let them starve ?” roughly 90% of the population would say “Yes I would.”

    2.One inconvenient point for libertarians and free market types generally is that some people’s labour is worth nothing. Or less. For them, it’s charity or welfare (or starvation.) The job market will make no offers. One hopes that the number of such people is actually fewer than it currently appears, ie that the incentive to get a real job and keep it, might improve the self discipline of people who currently appear to be unemployable at any price. But that may be wishful thinking. And as robots and technology improve, this problem might apply to more people as time goes on.

  • 2.One inconvenient point for libertarians and free market types generally is that some people’s labour is worth nothing. Or less. For them, it’s charity or welfare (or starvation.)

    This is quite a major and sadly common misconception. A great many “libertarians and free market types” have had lots to say on that topic, and there is copious evidence that affluent societies are extremely charitable societies. Indeed far from being an inconvenient point, affluent societies are vastly better able to deal with people whose labour is essentially worthless, than political societies that seem to work tirelessly maximise the number of people dependent on state patronage.

    And as robots and technology improve, this problem might apply to more people as time goes on.

    Or as those things make drudge labour pointless, the affluence that results means different ways to make a living become possible.

  • Paul Marks

    On health care the old Russian saying springs to mind – “first they smash your face in, then they say you were always ugly”.

    In the United States the high price of health cover has got nothing to do with “capitalism” and everything to do with the interventions (spending, which has the same effect in health care than it does with student tuition fees, and the webs of government regulations) of government (over DECADES).

    First government makes health cover very expensive – they it uses the results of its own previous interventions to justify even more interventions. This will lead to the a total government take over (the insurance companies eventually going the same way as the private student loan providers).

    As for Britain.

    The free hospitals (centuries old) have gone down the Memory Hole – as have the Friendly Societies (the vast majority of British industrial workers at one time).

    Now we are taught that, before the NHS, the poor were left to die of sickness in the streets.

    And now even RISING WEALTH (in the future – as a result of new technology) is being used as excuse for even more (not less) statism – see the above comment.

    I see – so if the Rev. Chalmers, and those who worked with him, could prevent starvation on the streets of Glasgow in the early 19th century it is impossible to prevent it now…… (without the state) in a society that is many times richer.

    Sorry – I do not see the logic.

  • Paul Marks

    For the record….

    Both the Fascists and the National Socialists (Nazis) were wildly in favour of the state taking over the functions of education, health, support in old age, and income support in times of cries, from the family and Civil Society.

    People (such the BBC-Guardian) who talk of it being “Fascist” to oppose the state taking control of all these things have a mistaken view of what the word “Fascist” means.

    As for the orthodox socialists (Fascism being a socialist heresy) – their aims are not hard to find out.

    The “Cloward and Piven” method in the United States (government spending being used to spend “capitalism” into bankruptcy – economic and cultural, with a DELIBERATLY ever expanding under class)is not some secret – Cloward and Piven published their plans in the Nation magazine (amongst other places) back in the 196os.

    Young Comrade Barack Obama used to go to Marxist conferences to sit at the feet of the great Francis Fox Piven – back in the 1980s.

    As for Britain……

    Take a good hard look at the “Fabian Window”.

    It really is not Paul Marks being paranoid – these people (the Fabians) were EVIL (to the very core of their being).

    In fact they (George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Mr and Mrs Webb – and so on) made it obvious they were evil – with the things they regularly said and wrote.

    But because it was done with a smile (as they made “witty” remarks about murdering millions of human beings) people did not take it seriously.

    It is a tactic.

    Keeping terrible intentions under raps is hard (there is an “urge to confess” in most humans).

    So how do get round that?

    Do confess – quite openly (in words, and images – such as the Fabian Window).

    But imply it is “just a joke”.

  • Paul Marks

    Short version – Snorri has a point

    The INTENTION of those who pushed hardest for the Welfare State was for it to “fail”.

    Indeed its success is its failure.

    Once most people are made dependent on the state for the basic things of life, then economic and social (CULTURAL) bankruptcy is assured.

    Out of the ashes of “capitalism” – a new order will be created (as was always the intention).

    The only question is what form of collectivism it is to be – Red Flag or Black Flag.

    For those of us who reject both – the “success” of the state take over of all the basic things of life (for most people) is a nightmare.

  • Gareth

    phil said:

    Good terms and conditions at work for most people depend on the benefit safety net.

    What were/are unions for then?

    A national union of workers in all but name benefits those at the top of it (politicians and civil servants) and the corporations who have fewer faces to deal with and don’t have to get into a bidding war for staff except at executive level.

  • The key part of the original quote is “benefits should be”. There is a desire, what is it? Is government the best, most effective way to accomplish that desire? For libertarians, the latter answer is generally no but you can’t meaningfully come to grips with the problem until you have a well defined consensus of what the desire is without any handwaving.

    So what are benefits for is a legitimate and real question that has attracted far too little attention among libertarian circles. How do you create structures to fulfill this desire and what are the negative and positive externalities of each of the solutions. This is prerequisite stuff before the policy fight. Socialist solutions thrive on inadequately explained solutions both public and private.

    People were out on the streets in the prior dispensation because the private structures did not have sufficient funds to help everyone. If the only thing that changed from the 19th century was that we transplanted the much greater incomes of today, would that still be true? I’m unaware of any serious analysis that answers that. I suspect that it would not be true. The fear of people being thrown out in the streets is a fear that internalizes government’s suppressive effect on private charity giving without demanding that government pay attention to minimizing its suppressive effect on private charity.

  • Richard

    I am convinced that there can be no benefit reform without tax reform.

    At the moment, if you lose your job or are just getting by you are still liable for Council Tax. Apart from anything else, “signing on” saves all the hassle and, for all practical purposes, removes your Council Tax liability.

    Furthermore, despite some of the rhetoric, I am not convinced that politicians want reform. It would, after all, reduce the roll of the State which is, for as long as they can get elected, their meal ticket too. That would go some way to explain the perverse incentives they provide people with.

  • I am not convinced that politicians want reform. It would, after all, reduce the roll of the State which is, for as long as they can get elected, their meal ticket too. That would go some way to explain the perverse incentives they provide people with.

    Indeed, I regards that as almost self evident Richard. It is very hard to make any sense of the modern world without coming to that conclusion.

  • Pardone

    The immediate abolition of rail subsidies would do a world of good, as would getting rid of the silly state pension (the main reason for our huge debt), making school attendance optional (parents should be free to teach their kids themselves if they so choose). Young people should not be cruelly forced by the state to pay for the old, especially given how young folk are paid the least. End all investment in “infrastructure” as its just an excuse for the state to dick wave and a hole into which corporate welfare is thrust. All infrastructure projects are BS and totally unnecessary.

    The House of Parliament should be knocked down and replaced with pre-fab house for MPs with outdoor toilets, and a small building which houses the debating chamber. A massive saving and an end to decadent, wasteful crap.

  • I agree. Any infrastructure spending that actually is needed can be done on a genuine commercial basis. And if it cannot be, then one has to wonder just how ‘essential’ it really is.

  • Rich Rostrom

    In a society as wealthy as the present First World, welfare/charity/scrounging is a sustainable lifestyle. Nature teaches us that every viable niche will be filled; some mutation will create a species that chooses it, and it will be occupied thereafter.

    In this case, some people will develop cultural traits that cause them to choose (often involuntarily) welfare/charity/scrounging as a way of life. Then that niche is occupied thereafter, as these traits are usually passed on to the children of these people.

    “Workfare” is a useful answer, but it only reforms those who don’t adapt by becoming more disabled, more incompetent, or more expert at scrounging and evasion.

    The long-term answer is to discourage these people from having children. Better contraception (which does not require any forethought or discipline) would help a lot. Cash incentives to use contraception would help too. Given the general modern tendency to fewer and fewer children, it shouldn’t take much effort to achieve a great reduction.

    Nature tells there will be a hard core who develop exactly the right traits to survive and persist in this niche. But it is likely that the great changes in technology and ways of life that are imminent will solve that problem.

  • Nick (Blame The French) Gray

    Here in Australia, we are discussing things like not letting school-leavers get the dole. How would that work in UK and US?

  • In a society as wealthy as the present First World, welfare/charity/scrounging is a sustainable lifestyle.

    Yes indeed but that is precisely why private charity is so vastly superior to state hand outs.

    Not only is private charity not theft based because it is genuine charity in which the money is a gift of the willing (but I realise arguing this from a moral point of view usually is pointless, so I will concentrate on the utilitarian issues), it has the great advantage is NOT BEING A POLITICALLY IMPOSED RIGHT… and therefore that deeply unfashionable Victorian notion of the deserving poor and undeserving poor comes into play. ‘Lifestyle’ poor can be told to get stuffed, whereas genuine hardship cases can be helped.

    Moreover a multiplicity of charities can bloom once the deadening hand of the state has been cut off with an axe, so a wide range of opinion as to who is and is not deserving/undeserving can be catered for, and the scroungers will have to work much harder within that vastly more nuanced ecosystem. It would have hard to overstate the social and economic benefits of making this a non-political issue.

  • re: “To be honest I am far from convinced tax funded safety nets can ever not end up becoming a ‘lifestyle choice’ for a great many people”

    I’d suggest that lessons should be learned from the school choice movement to differentiate between a state funded safety net, and a state administered safety net. If charity were made a tax credit (not simply a deduction) then people could give money to a charity that works, rather than a failing government program (though technically that isn’t state funded, but state required since the funds bypass the state). Private charities have incentives to find ways to wean people off the need for assistance, both since they have limited funds and because they need to compete for those funds by demonstrating that they use them wisely. In contrast government bureaucrats tend to have incentive to gain status by increasing their budgets and keeping people needing assistance. In the US this has lead to a few times as much money being spent on anti-poverty programs as it would take to simply give everyone cash to bring them above the poverty level.

    Of course this approach could eventually lead to taking the next step and getting government out of the safety net business.Once the private sector took over providing charitable services entirely, then the level of taxes could be lowered along with instituting a cap on the tax credit, to gradually get the government out of the business of charity entirely. This could happen gradually to demonstrate that people aren’t going to be starving in the streets. This page goes over issue in detail, though its example spending numbers are from the US:
    http://www.politicsdebunked.com/government-fails-the-poor

  • Snorri Godhi

    Yes, the Cloward-Piven strategy came to mind soon after i posted my comment on the Road to Serfdom — and didn’t Saul Alinsky propose something similar?
    It’s always nice to be told that i have a point, especially by Paul Marks, and btw let me put on the record that many times i might have made the same remark about other commenters here (Paul, Alisa, and Natalie Solvent come to mind, but there are others) but didn’t.

  • Natalie Solvent

    I LOL’ed. It is true that she can occasionally be caustic ;-)

  • Mr Ed

    Here in Australia, we are discussing things like not letting school-leavers get the dole. How would that work in UK and US?

    Nick, there have been some mutterings about abolishing dole (now called Job Seekers’ Allowance) in the UK for people under 25, and currently it is paid at a lower rate for those under 25, but I don’t think the latest efforts at reform on the system (if not sabotaged by civil servants) will make much difference. There are those who are unemployed and have the mentality that they are entitled to benefits, and to remove that attitude, the expectation, is probably impossible, but to remove the entitlement involves lots of socialists squealing and the media make as if people are concerned, when in reality they know and loathe the welfare underclass

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Snorri – that is what Saul Alinsky was about.

    But he clothed it in deceiving language.

    Like he did everything.

    Still at least he was more lively writer than the academics (such as Cloward and Piven).

  • That certainly is mutual, Snorri – which reminds me why I like the ‘like’ feature on Facebook so much: it removes the need for a ‘me too’ comment:-)

  • Paul Marks

    Alisa – agreed (on all points – Snorri and “like”).

  • staghounds

    “Career” not “lifestyle”.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Oops…now Natalie won’t believe that i ever read her posts beyond her first name.

  • William O. B'Livion

    Maybe so, but how would you respond to the response from non-readers of this blog who might say ‘So you’d let people starve in the street. would you?’

    My response is now:

    That doesn’t happen. Didn’t happen in developed areas in the 1800s, and it didn’t happen in the 1900s unless there was a world war going on, or the government was keeping food out.

    Leaving aside things like the Ukraine “famine” where Soviet soliders forcibly took food out of the hands of farmers, leaving them starving, and the Ethiopian famine where the government prevented food aid from being delivered to the drought stricken areas because there were rebels there.

    Other than that private charities were sufficient to keep most people from starvation during the 1800s and early part of the 1900s when they were conduits of aid from the upper middle and upper classes to the poverty stricken.

    Until the progressives realized they could use “our” heart strings as a way to get power.

    Now all but the poorest of the poor have wide screen TVs, late model cars and name brand shoes. Now the biggest health problem “the poor” face in the US is obesity and metabolic syndrome/diabetes.

    They could use a little starving. It’s motivating.

    Of course all that motivation means nothing when the government is throttling the economy.

  • William O. B'Livion

    In the United States the high price of health cover has got nothing to do with “capitalism” and everything to do with the interventions (spending, which has the same effect in health care than it does with student tuition fees, and the webs of government regulations) of government (over DECADES).

    I disagree with your starting premise–that health coverage in the US was expensive.

    I’ve paid out of pocket for Health Insurance for a family of 4, including 2 women of child bearing age (ok, one was in college and the other was around 40, but technically either could have gotten pregnant), and it wasn’t that bad. I had reasonably good coverage ($35 dollar co-pay[1], very low (IIRC 2000 family) annual out of pocket costs, coverage for being a motorcyclist (funny thing was the bike was broken that whole year), dental and vision for about 750 a month. Yeah, that’s not cheap but I was *covered* for up to 2 million in expenses annually and 5 million life time. Oh, I should mention that the other person on that plan was a 3 year old little girl. The kind that is aggressively investigating the world around her and learning about swing sets, merry-go-rounds, inertia and gravity.

    I could have gotten a much better deal if I’d been willing to pay more out of pocket and settled for a higher deductible, but I had my reasons.

    Now that plan would cost me close to 1800 a month and have a 3000 deductible per person, 6200 family.

    NOW it’s expensive.

    [1] For those unfamiliar with the term “Co-pay” was a way to reduce the cost of insurance and the use of health care resources by making the patient pick up part of hte tab rather than seeing HC as “free”.

  • Quentin

    $1800 a month is more than many earn. It is indeed expensive.

    However, I came here to say that a safety net is very much needed and it should be there not as a lifestyle choice but to help people back on their feet to allow them to try to succeed again.

    I’d also point out that welfare isn’t simply about food but also accommodation so the vulnerable don’t freeze to death in winter.