Monday, January 12, 2009

Do those who have less deserve less?

I think that very often conservatives think that those who have less deserve less, while liberals think that those who have less have had bad luck. Obviously, you've got to go case by case on that one. If you provide assistance liberally, then you're taking the risk that you'll end up with undeserving welfare queens (or kings) and undermine the work ethic. If you go too conservative, then some innocent victims of misfortune get screwed. On which side should we err?

10 comments:

Mike Darus said...

Are there another possibilities?

Those who have less choose less and are happy with it for the sake of other values.

OR

Those who have much have gotten it through immoral means and are to be pitied for their poor quality of life.

SE said...

Of course, a conservative (or perhaps more accurately, a libertarian) approach would be to get the government (certainly at the federal level) out of the welfare business altogether. The private sector, through charities, churches, etc., is far better able to determine who "deserves" help than a federal bureaucracy, thus avoiding any welfare queen syndrome. And of course, when such help to others is given voluntarily we avoid the theft through taxes necessary to fund such programs through the government, thereby keeping true to the commandment Thou Shalt Not Steal.

Victor Reppert said...

If taxation is theft (is it all theft, or just some of it), then this assumes it was properly owned before it was taxed. And, I don't know who this squares with Jesus' stand on paying taxes to Caesar, which seems to involve some kind of social contract argument.

Ilíon said...

If you believe that Christ commands *you* to beggar yourself for the sake of "the poor," then go for it (and send some of it my way!), you would be remiss to not do so.

But you're not satisfied with that. You insist that *you* cannot do what Christ (seemingly) commands of *you* unless everyone else be compelled -- onder threat of violent death -- to likewise beggar themselves, and the entire society, to no appreciable effect.

Ilíon said...

VR: "I think that very often conservatives think that those who have less deserve less, ... "

Do they really?

VR: "... while liberals think that those who have less have had bad luck."

Do they really?


VR: "... On which side should we err?"

No possible individual, and no possible group of individuals has the the knowledge (nor the purity) to "solve" the silly and question-begging (*) conundrum you pose.

(*) And you're unable to even see that you always beg the question in favor of bureaucratic interventionism. Which is to say, you are always in favor of forcing some set of citizens (who are electorily weak) to labor for the benefit of some other set (who are electorily strong).

Face it: you're in favor of slavery ... just so long as you personally are not one of the slaves-of-the-voters.

Mike Darus said...

Victor:
"Give what is Caesar's to Caesar." permits a social contract theory but it in no way supports it. It equally allows for divinely appointed monarchy. It says taxes may legitamately be owed to the government who make the coinage but it does not take a stand on why or what form of government it is. It also does not help differentiate a just tax from an unjust one.

The accusation of "theft" in taxation by conservatives does not require the logical conclusion that all taxation is theft. There can be distinction between taxation with representation and taxation without representaion. There can even be second guessing of those taxes imposed by representation.

Ilion goes to far to aledge that the taxation will "beggar" the tax payer. Since taxation is a percentage of income and since our tax code is somewhat progressive, this objection is at least in theory, answered by the provisions of the current system.

Your contentions about "deserving" and "luck" are not likely the real reasons behind the current tax code or the participation of government in assistance or even the motivations of conservatives and liberals. Poverty is a very complex issue. This dictomy that you offer does not represent any theory fairly.

Ilíon said...

Mike Darus: "Ilion goes to far to aledge that the taxation will "beggar" the tax payer."

Mike Darus ought to learn to read ... and comprehend ... better.

Ilíon said...

Mike Darus: "Since taxation is a percentage of income and since our tax code is somewhat progressive, this objection is at least in theory, answered by the provisions of the current system."

Does Mike Darus even comprehend what a 'progressive' income tax is? Does Mike Darus even comprehend that even had "Ilion ... aledge[d] that the taxation will "beggar" the tax payer" that the progressivity of the tax scheme does not address the problem; that it is, in fact, a great deal of the problem?

SE said...

the progressivity of the tax scheme does not address the problem; that it is, in fact, a great deal of the problem?

Exactly! The more you make the more they take. If that's not theft, what is?

SE said...

Ilion goes to far to aledge that the taxation will "beggar" the tax payer. Since taxation is a percentage of income and since our tax code is somewhat progressive, this objection is at least in theory, answered by the provisions of the current system.

I think what Mike is saying is that the progressive nature of the tax code means that only those with the ability to pay will be taxed at the higher rates (in other words, they won't miss it)and therefore it won't "beggar" them.

Unfortunately we can't know for certain how many people have gone under who might have prospered if not for having so much of their income stolen. Besides, the progressive income tax is a Marxist idea anyway.