Alternatives to the Welfare State

II Thessalonians 3:10: For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

In my last article, I discussed how the U.S. is a welfare state, what that means, and how it violates the principles of Freedom and Responsibility. However, one might ask how those currently on welfare would survive without the welfare state. It’s a valid question. There are many people who cannot live without either their current welfare benefits or some kind of replacement. If those benefits disappeared, what is to stop them from dying? Today we’ll discuss the various alternatives to the welfare state that could or would appear in a more free world.

Work

Ephesians 4:28: Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Many people on welfare benefits don’t really need the benefits. I won’t say they’re lazy, necessarily, because they are just making rational economic decisions given the market distortions of the welfare state. That is, they can get more money by not working, than by working. Or, more by a part time job than a full time job. If the welfare benefits disappeared, these people would likely find gainful employment promptly.

Family

I Timothy 5:8: But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

This is part of the biblical model. People who have family who legitimately can’t work should take care of them.

I note that family members are far more qualified than a career bureaucrat to identify genuine need as compared to indolence.

Church

I John 3:17: But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

The church should be able to cover anyone else who is legitimately in need, and who doesn’t have a family to care for them.

Miscellaneous charity

There’s no reason you can’t help someone out outside your church who isn’t related to you. I think this would be much more widespread if taxes were lower and the welfare state didn’t exist. I know if I had 30% more of my income, I’d be quicker to help people.

Starvation

Back to the original verse… if you don’t work, you don’t eat.

As you see, if the government weren’t stealing our money to give it to other people who may or may not legitimately need it, some welfare recipients would work for themselves, some would be helped by family or religious or nonreligious organizations, and some just might starve to death from their own laziness. I suspect the last category wouldn’t happen at all.

Can you think of any other alternatives to the welfare state?


P.S. I’ve received requests for action items — things you can do to make a difference, such as ways to contact officials directly. The best place I know of for that is DownsizeDC.org. Here and here are forms related to the welfare state that allow you to directly contact your Congressman on particular issues.

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The Welfare State: Where’s the Freedom and Responsibility?

“Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.” — Margaret Thatcher

Definition of Welfare State

1: a social system based on the assumption by a political state of primary responsibility for the individual and social welfare of its citizens 2: a nation or state characterized by the operation of the welfare state system

The United States of America is a welfare state, per the second definition. According to the most recent available statistics from the Census Bureau (4th Quarter, 2012) 35.4% of Americans are on one or more means-tested programs, and 49.5% of Americans received benefits from one or more programs, including non-means-tested programs, such as Social Security.

The number of people on benefits is growing, while the relative number of people supporting those benefits is decreasing. There was a time when there were no benefits, and people were expected to exercise personal responsibility regarding their financial situation. Now, as much as 70% of American families receive more from the government than they pay in taxes. This is not sustainable, any more than it is moral.

Some may object to the inclusion of Social Security as a welfare benefit. After all, it’s your money, right? Wrong. SCOTUS ruled in 1937 (Helvering vs. Davis), “The proceeds of both [the employee part and the employer part of Social Security] taxes are to be paid into the Treasury like internal-revenue taxes generally, and are not earmarked in any way.” Social Security withholdings are just a sneakier part of the income tax. SCOTUS ruled in 1960 (Flemming vs. Nestor), “A person covered by the Social Security Act has not such a right in old-age benefit payments as would make every defeasance of ‘accrued’ interests violative of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.” Yeah, lots of legalese. It says more, but basically they don’t have to pay you, even though you paid them. I feel like I’m already spending too much time defending inclusion of Social Security as a welfare benefit, but here’s one more point: the first person who ever drew Social Security was Ida May Fuller. She paid in $22.54 over three years, and then drew $22,888.92 in Social Security benefits over the next 35 years. Clearly, benefits aren’t directly dependent on inputs.

Welfare benefits are ultimately a redistribution of wealth scheme: they take from young people and give to old people, or they take from rich people and give to young people, or they take from some other people and give to yet other people.

If the recipients did this directly — without layers of bureaucracy between them and the victims — no one would be confused about the nature of this redistribution. Anybody could see it was theft, plain and simple. Tragically, legality confuses issues of morality for many.

Setting aside the issue of theft, a major problem with the welfare state is expressed well in the first definition: “a political state [assumes] primary responsibility for the individual and social welfare of its citizens.” Since when is it the role of government to be responsible for “the individual and social welfare of its citizens?” The very idea is nonsensical. As Southern Baptist preacher Adrian Rogers said, “The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.” Taking from some of its citizens would violate its responsibility to care for their welfare. And if it doesn’t take from them, it has nothing to care for the welfare of the others.

I’ll wrap this up now. As y’all know, I focus on the twin principles of freedom and responsibility. The welfare state violates both of these: the former by taking from people what they’ve earned, and the latter by giving to people what they haven’t earned. The welfare state needs to end.

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Stock Exchange

“Go into the London Stock Exchange – a more respectable place than many a court – and you will see representatives from all nations gathered together for the utility of men. Here Jew, Mohammedan and Christian deal with each other as though they were all of the same faith, and only apply the word infidel to people who go bankrupt. Here the Presbyterian trusts the Anabaptist and the Anglican accepts a promise from the Quaker. On leaving these peaceful and free assemblies some go to the Synagogue and others for a drink, this one goes to be baptized in a great bath in the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, that one has his son’s foreskin cut and has some Hebrew words he doesn’t understand mumbled over the child, others go to their church and await the inspiration of God with their hats on, and everybody is happy.” Voltaire

My sole voting Patron picked the stock exchange as the topic for my next post, so here it is. When he picked it, I didn’t know enough about the stock exchange to write about it — maybe I still don’t.

I had had an idea that somehow it was too complex to run without government regulation. That sounds ridiculous once it was articulated, because I believe the entire economy can function better without government regulation. Now I’ve done some research, and it turns out that most regulation in the stock exchanges — even the New York Stock Exchange — is largely performed by independent entities such as FINRA.

This makes this a much more boring and less abstruse subject than I anticipated. No matter, we can still discuss it.

The stock exchange is just a formal organization for free market activity, and as usual, government intervention is unnecessary at its best, and even detrimental.

The New York Stock Exchange was founded in 1792, but people still exchanged stocks before that, under a buttonwood tree. Amsterdam had the first stock exchange in the 1600s, and London and Philadelphia followed shortly before New York. If you need to brush up on your stock market history, Forex Academy is known to go deep into the context of everything relating trading and exchanged, including the history. For example, you would definitely learn about that, the SEC — which regulates exchanges and such — wasn’t founded until 1934, in response to the Great Depression.

Congress blamed insider market abuses and inadequate disclosure of financial data for the Great Depression, and reacted by creating the SEC. In truth, the Great Depression had more to do with tariffs and poor Federal Reserve policies. I feel like I’ve heard this story before: the government causes a problem, and uses the problem as a reason to take more power.

Insider trading is probably among the top couple of financial crimes average Americans are aware of. Should it be a crime? Do we need the SEC to stop it? I say no, on both accounts.

If it’s viewed as a beneficial rule, individual stock exchanges can implement and enforce it within themselves, but I doubt its beneficiality. Market prices are set by the information available to the market, and most often this information takes the form of people buying or selling. If someone buys or sells based on information not generally available, his actions bring a piece of the information he has to the general public.

Disclosure of financial data has no need to be mandatory; the market and the exchanges already require it. They did it before Congress mandated it, and there’s no reason to think they would stop if Congress didn’t exist.

Of course, this financial data costs money to produce and disseminate. When the SEC requires more disclosure than the market demands, it limits the functional efficiency of the companies involved. When the SEC requires less or the same disclosure than the market demands, it is superfluous.

In summary, although no system is perfect, stock exchanges would perform just fine — and even better — with only nongovernmental regulation. We don’t need the SEC or the related Congressional acts. Freedom suffices.

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Bump Stocks: What To Do About These Frightening Implements of Death?

Someone murdered a lot of people in Las Vegas recently. I’m not going to name the suspect, because I support limiting notoriety for mass killers, as a step toward discouraging future copycats. I won’t question whether the suspect had the tradecraft skills and physical capacity to pull off the murders as stated in the MSM. I won’t question whether he acted alone, or whether the killer/s actually used the weapons and accessories in the official story. Rather, I’ll discuss first the accessories that were ostensibly used, then I’ll consider the reactions to this mass murder as they relate especially to those accessories, and finally I’ll discuss appropriate policies on those accessories.

First, we’ll consider the aforementioned accessories — bumpfire stocks, or just bump stocks. Some in the MSM would have you believe that these devices “make a AR-15 fire full auto like a machine gun.” Well, no. They don’t. What they do is utilize recoil to bounce the gun in a way that helps you pull the trigger rapidly, thus approaching full auto rates of fire. You can do the same thing without a specially-designed stock, but it takes practice. Bump-firing — with or without a bump stock — is not the same as turning it into a machine gun, or firing “full auto.” Legally and technologically speaking, a “machinegun” fires more than one round per action of the trigger (fully automatic, or full auto fire). Regardless, a bump stock is not a terribly useful accessory. I think of it as a freedom-simulation device. It lets you imagine for a few gunpowder-fueled moments that you’re living in a free country, enjoying the inherent joy of firing a fully automatic weapon, albeit one with substantially diminished accuracy. To summarize, a bump stock is a piece of plastic that helps you pull the trigger faster than normal.

Having considered the accessories in question, we’ll consider the emotional reactions to the mass murder as they relate to the bump stocks. Every time the MSM decides that a deadly event is tragic enough to lead in the evening news, emotional meltdowns and calls for laws that wouldn’t have actually prevented the tragedy in question are sure to follow. No, I’m not callous to the loss of life. Sure, I’m a bit cynical. Fifty-plus dead in one night in one place is news; the same number every month or so in Chicago is discussed occasionally, but not like a single mass murder; likewise the innumerable civilian women and children killed by U.S. bombs in half a dozen foreign countries; and thousands of innocent babies murdered in contract killings orchestrated by their own mothers and carried out by medical professionals aren’t even considered murders…. This article is about the bump stocks — not those other issues — so let’s get back to how people reacted to this tragedy. As soon as the MSM could figure out what a bump stock was, there were calls to ban them. Senator Feinstein introduced a bill to ban bump stocks, and a similar bill has bipartisan support in the House. POTUS Trump is looking intobanning bump stocks. Even the NRA has gotten in on it, actually asking the BATFE to review their ruling on the accessories with a view toward issuing more regulations on them! (How many times does someone have to betray you, before they stop being traitors and start being the enemy?) To summarize, fifty-nine violent deaths instigated emotional reactions across the board, spurring normally intelligent individuals (Senator Feinstein and her ilk excepted) to irrational plots to imprison or kill people for possession of a piece of plastic.

Having considered the bump stocks and the emotional reactions to the murders, we’ll now consider the appropriate policies for the bump stocks. In short — freedom, y’all. As I’ve written previously, there is no place in a free society for regulations on firearms accessories. It doesn’t matter that a bump stock is a nearly useless toy. It doesn’t matter that it’s been possible for years to 3D print one in your living room. It is immoral to imprison or kill people for simple possession of property. It is especially immoral when that property has anything to do with firearms, and thus relates to the fundamental right of self defense. All attempts to ban or restrict bump stocks — or any other firearm accessory —  are antithetical to the principles of freedom we all should hold dear. Support for these bans should be countered in every available forum. Organizations that promote these bans should be boycotted. To summarize, don’t kill people over a piece of plastic, and oppose those who would — morality is pretty simple, right?

In conclusion, we have considered the bump stocks, the emotional reactions to the murders, and the appropriate policies to adopt for bump stocks and other firearm accessories. It makes neither moral nor rational sense to ban a piece of plastic just because someone used one once to kill a lot of people that he probably could have killed more efficiently without the piece of plastic…. I hope this article has either clarified your thinking, or assisted you in clearing things up for someone you know.

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Cash in Ancapistan

Money provides such an advantage over barter, that it is indispensable for a functioning economy today. Modern civilization has been accustomed to a government or pseudo-government entity creating and maintaining a money supply. Indeed, these currencies have dominated the economy across the globe throughout living memory. Recently, cryptocurrencies have been on the rise, but they are far from replacing dollars, pounds, and yuan. In a truly free society, how would money be provided for the economy?

In short, it would be provided the same way all goods and services are provided in a free society: by mutually voluntary human interactions in the market. Without a government-mandated currency — printed with a legal obligation to accept it in payment of debts — people would be free to produce or accept any currencies they choose.

A variety of alternative currencies have been offered over time, but governments are typically opposed to currencies (or any other services…) that can compete with their own. China recently prohibited ICOs. The U.S. is prosecuting men for selling Bitcoin. Although Bernard von Nothaus got a fairly light sentence after being accused of domestic terrorism for his Liberty Dollaralternative currency, Jonathan May was imprisoned for years for attempting to create a non-fractional reserve alternative to the Federal Reserve system. In a free society, all cryptocurrencies would be free to compete on the open market with privately manufactured specie and paper instruments.

Likely, no more than a handful of currencies would come to dominate a free society’s economy. Bitcoin would be a strong contender, given its current dominance of the cryptocurrency market, but Monero‘s focus on privacy with its usability being as broad as Bitcoin’s thanks to XMR.tocould give it an advantage. Some people would prefer paper instruments, which would essentially be I.O.U.s backed by an individual’s or corporation’s creditworthiness and assets. Traditional specie might be used by those who prefer their currency to have intrinsic value. Specie could be issued expressly after the manner of the aforementioned Liberty Dollar, or metal bars and rounds manufactured by such companies as KitcoApmex, and JM Bullion could be pressed into service as currency. Similarly to the issuing of paper instruments in a free society, a company’s reputation would affect the value of their issued currency. Of course, just as with government currencies, paper instruments and even gold and silver currencies could be exchanged digitally.

To summarize, without governments disrupting the market for money, the market would provide a diverse array of currencies to fit the needs and preferences of all consumers, and the economy could continue to function with the competing monies.

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Abortion: A Voluntaryist Perspective

Voluntaryism is a philosophy summed up in the Voluntary Principle, i.e., “all human relations should happen voluntarily, or not at all.” How does this apply to the abortion debate?

First, realize that the science is clear on the humanity of a zygote. From the moment an egg is fertilized, there is a living cell with a unique set of human DNA. That is — scientifically — a human life. However, science cannot answer questions of morality on its own; that is the realm of ethics and philosophy and religion. Here, we consider the moral question from the Voluntaryist standpoint.

Prima facie, it is immoral under the Voluntary Principle to terminate a human life, except in self defense. Ergo, an argument in favor of abortion under the aegis of the Voluntary Principle must explain why the Voluntary Principle does not apply in this way. Some argue that the zygote or fetus violates the rights of the mother by his existence within her body. Others argue that human beings who have yet to be born do not deserve the protection of moral standards that apply to the rest of us, but this contradicts a plain reading of “all human relations….”

I posit that the creation of a human life is a unique point in human relationships. Human life can arise either through voluntary interactions (consensual sex or medical procedures) or through involuntary interactions (rape). In consensual sex, both parents have voluntarily participated while realizing the potential consequences of their actions include the production of a new human being. In the case of rape, only one parent has voluntarily participated while realizing the potential consequences of their actions include the production of a new human being. In either circumstance, the human being who is produced has no say in the matter whatsoever. Having been created, the new human being should enjoy the full protection of the same moral principles that protect the rest of us, including the Voluntary Principle.

What of the argument that the new human being is violating the rights of the mother? I find pregnancy to be analogous to a private airplane ride. The mother owns the plane, so to speak, and thus has moral control over who rides in it. In a pregnancy by consensual sex, the mother has analogously invited someone onto her plane, and is flying 30,000 feet above the ground. Clearly, to eject someone mid-flight without ensuring that they have the appropriate gear to survive, is murder. It matters not that when she issued the invitation, she perhaps never thought that they would take her up on the offer and show up to ride in the plane one day, so to speak. In a pregnancy by rape, the rapist has analogously smuggled a stowaway (against the stowaway’s will) into the plane — although obviously rape is far more heinous than illicitly hiding someone on a plane. Still, it is clearly murder to eject the unwilling stowaway from the plane without providing them the equipment to survive. The stowaway has not himself violated the rights of the plane’s owner or pilot, and thus it is inappropriate and immoral to retaliate against him. Even if the stowaway had been at fault, execution is probably a disproportionate response to the aggression.

In summary, we have considered the morality of abortion both in cases of rape and in cases of consensual sex, and we have found that under the Voluntary Principle, abortion is conclusively immoral.

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