Anything the Government Gives You, the Government Can Take Away

From the Guardian:

A majority of doctors support measures to deny treatment to smokers and the obese, according to a survey that has sparked a row over the NHS‘s growing use of “lifestyle rationing”.

Some 54% of doctors who took part said the NHS should have the right to withhold non-emergency treatment from patients who do not lose weight or stop smoking. Some medics believe unhealthy behaviour can make procedures less likely to work, and that the service is not obliged to devote scarce resources to them.

And that’s the trouble with services and institutions run from the taxpayer’s purse, administered by centralists and bureaucrats. It becomes a carrot or a stick for interventionists to intervene in your life. Its delivery depends on your compliance with the diktats and whims of the democracy, or of bureaucrats. Your standard of living becomes a bargaining chip. Don’t conform? You might be deemed unworthy of hospital treatment.

It seems innocuous to promise all manner of services in exchange for taxes. Citizens may welcome the convenience, the lower overheads, the economies of scale. They may welcome a freebie, and the chance to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labour. They may feel entitled to it.

Many words have been spent on the problems of dependency; that rather than working for an honest living, the poor may be sucked into a vortex of entitlement, to such an extent that they lose the desire to produce. A tax-sucking multi-generational underclass can develop. Individuals can live entirely workless lives, enjoying a semi-comfortable existence on the teat of the taxpayer, enjoying the fruits — financial handouts, free education, free healthcare, a free home — of social engineers who believe that every problem under the sun can be remedied by government largesse and throwing money at problems. And who can blame them? Humans have sought out free lunches for as long as there have been humans.

Welfare dependency is generally assumed to be viewed negatively in the corridors of power. After all, broad welfare programs mean greater spending, and that very often means great debt. And why would a government want to be in debt? Surely governments would prefer it if more of the population was working and productive and paying taxes?

But it is easier to promote behaviour desired by the state when a population lives on state handouts. And for states that might want to influence the behaviour of their citizens — their resource consumption, their carbon footprint, their moral and ethical beliefs, or their attitude toward the state — this could be an attractive proposition. It might cost a lot to run a welfare system, but it brings a lot of power to influence citizens.

And increasingly throughout the Western world, citizens are becoming dependent on the state for their standard of living. In the UK, 92% of people are dependent on the socialist NHS for healthcare. 46 million Americans receive food stamps. That gives states a lot of leverage to influence behaviour. First it may be used in a (relatively sensible) attempt to curtail smoking and obesity. Beyond that, the sky is the limit. Perhaps doctors or bureaucrats may someday suggest withholding treatment or dole money from those who exceed their personal carbon or meat consumption quota? A tyrant could even withhold welfare from those who do not pledge their undying allegiance or military service to a regime or ideology (it happened many times last century). An underclass of rough and hungry welfare recipients is a fertile recruiting ground for military and paramilitary organisations (like the TSA).

With the wide expansion of welfare comes a lot of power, and the potential for the abuse of power. Citizens looking for a free lunch or an easier world should be careful what they wish for. Welfare recipients take note: you depend on government for your standard of living, you open yourself up to losing your liberty.

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82 thoughts on “Anything the Government Gives You, the Government Can Take Away

  1. Leave your views about welfare aside. If you’ve decided to help a poor man get healthcare, and you spend you own resources to treat him from some lung disease. Would you still help him if he insists on smoking?

    • I’m really talking about the potential for abuse. Personally, I believe that everyone who wants to be healthy should stop smoking. The reality for smokers is that if they want the liberty to smoke, then they need to stay off handouts, otherwise they become susceptible to the whims of bureaucrats and planners. The choice to smoke is a personal decision. Once you start accepting money from the taxpayer, it becomes less so. And that’s just reality.

  2. This is a mean-spirited article Aziz; the well-off can never blame the poor and unfortunate enough for their plight, nor attack those who work hard in the public services enough. Am I fortunately not to live in the UK or the US == the elites have become intolerably selfish.

    • @Professor Locke.

      I’m not even really anti-(limited)-welfare, but I think welfare recipients ought to be warned. Once you depend on welfare you become susceptible to the compulsions of the government of the day. Today it is smoking and obesity, which are relatively sensible things to discourage. But the potential for abuse — abuse set up by and for the benefit of those very elites (e.g. want welfare? Join the army to fight the next resource war!) — is humungous.

      • “I’m not even really anti-(limited)-welfare, but I think welfare recipients ought to be warned.”

        Of course you’re not. You just title your posts in such a way to increase mistrust of the government lol ;). Which you should of course be weary of.

        But what I don’t understand is: why do you trust the govt with all the power to protect your rights and property?

        Why we do need to be more concerned about govt getting involved with health-care as opposed to anything else?

        • But what I don’t understand is: why do you trust the govt with all the power to protect your rights and property?

          When did I ever say or imply I trusted the government to do that? The same mechanism applies; dependency on government leads to the erosion of self-liberty.

          Generally, I hope the government will succeed at these functions because they tend to be the least iatrogenic/metastatic (i.e. they are “protecting from harm”, thus the mission is by definition limited).

          But no, generally I believe that the best self-defense of rights and property is from the local level. That the state (particularly in the European nation where I live) demands a monopoly over such affairs is politically, institutionally, and constitutionally problematic. So while I have to (by law) hope that the government does its job in these realms, I do not particularly trust it to succeed.

        • “When did I ever say or imply I trusted the government to do that? The same mechanism applies; dependency on government leads to the erosion of self-liberty.”

          You’re kidding!? This is an essential tenet of libertarian/libertarian-esque philosophy.

          And vis-a-vis Healthcare, where is the erosion of liberty? Who loses out? If you can afford to pay for and find a private doctor you can still do that. I feel like universal health care would be cheaper than trying play the game of raising or moving the costs onto others when the uninsured come into the emergency room.

        • Don’t judge me by what a book or a person I might agree with 30% or 50% of the time says. I’m not a libertarian. I’m not even sure if I’m really libertarianesque. I get flamed more by Rothbardians, Galtians, etc, than I do by liberals. I’m quite unique; I don’t think there is anyone else on the net who subscribes to the bulk of my views.

          And vis-a-vis Healthcare, where is the erosion of liberty? Who loses out? If you can afford to pay for and find a private doctor you can still do that. I feel like universal health care would be cheaper than trying play the game of raising or moving the costs onto others when the uninsured come into the emergency room.

          Where is the erosion of liberty? Dependency upon a human agency like the state is always and necessarily an erosion of liberty, because your rights and services can be taken away on a whim. As we are discovering in Europe, societies who depend on a high level of state spending can be crushed by austerity. That is not even a “whim”; that is what passes for “good economics” in those parts. Whatever the government gives you the government can take away. It’s the same principle. Dependency is fragility. Dependent societies are weak. A robust society exhibits a much lesser degree of dependency.

        • “Dependency upon a human agency like the state is always and necessarily an erosion of liberty, because your rights and services can be taken away on a whim”

          Except if you have the $$$. Or if you are in banking in finance. Which, by the way, is the reason why economies are doing so poorly – banking and finance. Aided by their buddies with the $$$ in govt. The issue is bad governance partnering with bad actors in industry.
          I think people understand that. I don’t think people understand the concern of people like yourself who seem to want to shout: don’t you get it, it’s all scam! They just want to take everything from you! Most people’s actual experience is not that. Most people don’t think they are being cheated when they get VA benefits, unless it’s not enough, or Medicare/Medicaid. It’s almost a pointless exercise to insist there is tyranny where none exists, or that there is an unacceptable level of tyranny where no one else agrees.

        • Don’t you get it, it’s all scam! They just want to take everything from you!

          I never said that, or even anything approaching that. I said that governments find the power that centralisation and dependency generates attractive. That doesn’t on any level mean that this is some big plot or conspiracy. Austerity in Europe is not a conspiracy, it is bad, bad policy which ends up burning those who have become dependent on government largesse.

          It’s almost a pointless exercise to insist there is tyranny where none exists, or that there is an unacceptable level of tyranny where no one else agrees.

          This is not about government, or tyranny or any of those peripheral topics that I just invoked to get people’s attention. The point is about dependency, and the resultant fragility that this dependency creates. If people were dependent on corporations (which to some degree they are) or perhaps more importantly if corporations were dependent on government (which they absolutely are — large corporations are extremely fragile) I could make almost the same point. By the way your point about wealth is almost irrelevant… If a person or corporation institution is independently wealthy then they are by no means at all “dependent”, but like I say most of the corporate structure today is not independently wealth, it got rich from continued subsidies and corporatism and thus is fragile (you don’t need trillion dollar bailouts if you are robust).

          The issue is not whether people deem X to be tyrannical. If people are fragile to a shock and the shock happens, it will hurt them, which is precisely what is happening right now in Europe. People there were very often happy with the level of state spending (and thus social dependency) that existed there. They did not perceive tyranny. But the dependency was there.

        • “This is not about government, or tyranny or any of those peripheral topics that I just invoked to get people’s attention. The point is about dependency, and the resultant fragility that this dependency creates. If people were dependent on corporations (which to some degree they are) or perhaps more importantly if corporations were dependent on government (which they absolutely are — large corporations are extremely fragile) I could make almost the same point. By the way your point about wealth is almost irrelevant… If a person or corporation institution is independently wealthy then they are by no means at all “dependent”, but like I say most of the corporate structure today is not independently wealth, it got rich from continued subsidies and corporatism and thus is fragile (you don’t need trillion dollar bailouts if you are robust).

          “The issue is not whether people deem X to be tyrannical. If people are fragile to a shock and the shock happens, it will hurt them, which is precisely what is happening right now in Europe. People there were very often happy with the level of state spending (and thus social dependency) that existed there. They did not perceive tyranny. But the dependency was there.”

          But you seem to purposely leave out the reason why govts even attempted to do this: the world financial meltdown. Austerity is simply bad policy. Why not leave it at that? Why not attack the austerity mongers and the bad actors? Why segue into an indictment of govt in it’s entirety? If you have shitty people in govt you have a shitty govt. Period. If you spend your money on wars of choice and let financial institutions rob every blind over and over again you can’t afford to do much else without taking on staggering debt. Your post makes it sound like govt getting involved in universal health-care is bad regardless if they can afford it or not or who is in govt.

          Anything anybody gives you can be taken away.

  3. In defence of John’s article, I came from a working class background. My dad broke batteries to get the lead for a scrap metal merchant. My mother worked as a Secretary. My grandmother looked after me while they worked and read to me at an earlier age. Her husband left her with 4 children and she srubbed floors at a hospital. My family could have been welfare recipoents if it were not for strong morals and a worth ethic.

    Unfortunately for me, my parents bought their first home in an Estate, that was later zoned a Government housing development precint. When they built the housing and the welfare recipients moved in, we had break ins, and the children of the welfare system bullied children includinging myself. This area was a stronghold of Labour (Democrat) electoral power. No Liberal (Conservative/Republican) It is almost as if this eletoral zone was deliberately set up to ensure a safe seat for Labour.

    I have no sympathy for welfare recipient that receive benefits that span generations. It is a vicious cycle and children learn the “system”. In Australia voting is compulsory. The irony is these voter who rely on welfare have such low civic responsibility that they brag about casting “donkey” votes. i.e. illegitimate votes for “Mickey Mouse” or Get F…D” So I don’t know how the Labour types get in. I think it is more the middle class who vote Labour/Democrat because they get socialist health care or public schools or other ideological benefits because they were brainwashed bt the Communist movement whilst they were young, and it was the only “radical” party that a youth could vote for.

    The reality in Australia is the welfare payments just keep up with the cost of living. Most people experiencing intergenerational welfare have to move into public housing or remote locations of Australia where houses are cheaper but work scarce. A life of day time TV, cigarettes, booze on governement welfare is bearable in remote Australia.

    As a result you get the Australian Bogan.

    http://www.bogan.com.au

    • I have no sympathy for welfare recipient that receive benefits that span generations. It is a vicious cycle and children learn the “system”.

      I do. We all want a free lunch. This is the same thing as taking corporate subsidies. The large corporations are subsidised to produce weapons; the welfare recipients are often subsidised to produce armies.

      This is not really an anti-welfare post. The reality of big modern government interventionism has meant that welfare is a reality whether we like it or not. The point is that those we accept it are accepting the fragility of government dependency. Whoever you get money from has a lot of power over you.

    • Buddy,

      I totally understand your opinions. I feel that these problems are now imbedded in Western Culture.

      Helping the poor = good (Of course, but helping the 3 generations of the same family for 40 years using welfare programs can’t be good. Or ask the question, why are there now 3 generations of the same family using welfare programs?)

      What about farm subsidies? Of course we want to help the farmer. But in the US, 75% of all farm subsides go to farms earning more the $2 million in profits. (Yes, the largest firms skew the stats) Or that the US pays Brazilian farmers (In 2010) approx. $730 million because of these farm subsidies. Sheesh, this is getting crazy.

      Or as Aziz points out, the corporate welfare programs, tax breaks & loopholes, etc..

      Read “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins. It will help you understand that welfare and debt are used to control the masses. Helping the silent middle IS NOT THE AGENDA.

      In the US, the housing crash has created a whole new class of “Dependant Americans”. Now, much of the baby boomer middle class is DEPENDENT on the US Federal Government propping-up their house prices. The supposedly wealthiest generation of people the world has ever seen, now depends on the government for damn near everything. Did this happen by mistake?

      • Read “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins.

        I second this suggestion.

        In the US, the housing crash has created a whole new class of “Dependant Americans”. Now, much of the baby boomer middle class is DEPENDENT on the US Federal Government propping-up their house prices. The supposedly wealthiest generation of people the world has ever seen, now depends on the government for damn near everything. Did this happen by mistake?

        This is a very valid question. I think much of what happens happens by mistake (this tends to come from my understanding of maths and probability, and my realisation that effective planning is always disrupted by unintended consequences), but that for the bureaucrats these things are clouds with silver linings…

  4. Pingback: Anything the Government Gives You, the Government Can Take Away « Financial Survival Network

  5. Bread and Circuses. Bread and Circuses John.

    I live with my integrity, and I will lobby Politicans as much as possible to reduce welfare and reduce red tape, so people can become self employed.

    Welfare should be a safety net, not a lifestyle.

    • Sure.

      But the bureaucrats and the corporate class seem quite happy to turn it into a lifestyle. So it is not just the fault of the welfare recipients. The entire system has accepted and in some cases promoted it.

    • Buddy, why would these immoral, not hard-working people who steal and bully (as you said) magically turn their lifestyle around and become self-employed when all the “red tape” is removed?

      • Jon,

        I once thought as you do. I thought, the poor peopleof the world need HELP. They need more EDUCATION or cheaper housing or seed MONEY to start a business.

        But, along the way (I still have no grey hair) I started to notice things. I noticed that my boss didn’t send cement trucks into one town because the cops liked to write tickets. Or I watched as lawyers held swords over businesses using the laws and regulations to extort money. (Everyone in the building knew they were just looking for “go away money”) I saw cities that had implemented rent control in 1960′s, find out in th 1990′s, that none of their public workers and most of the private sector workers could not afford housing in said city. (San Francisco and Berkeley)

        What you see is the seen. But, it is the unseen, that you have issues with. You see the 1 government created job, but don’t see the 2 private sector jobs that were never created because of regulation and welfare programs (From dead-weight-taxation, & mailinvestment) Claude Frédéric Bastiat is a good place to start for this discussion.

        You think that regulation is good and it is. But what you don’t see is that unscrupulous individuals and firms that use large and confusing regulations to hide loopholes that benfits the few over the many. This were removing “red tape” can help those not, in the bottom or middle classes, but the homest and hard working in all classes.

        • Lol! Why don’t you try staying on topic instead of putting words in my mouth?

          But since we’re on the subject, why don’t you provide some evidence that shows that people that don’t have jobs now are simply waiting for the tyrannical regulations to go away so they can finally be self-employed. Show me something. Enough talk.

          People don’t magically start employing themselves. Self-employment is great but if the employer isn’t successful what’s the use? The thought of failure is probably more of a deterrent than regulations. Not that I agree with unnecessary regulation. My point is you need to show a survey or some kind of evidence that shows people would start their own business if not for certain regulation.

          And,
          If the employer can only afford to pay mcdonald’s wages how does it help the economy grow?

          You assume way, way too much about me.

        • Jon,

          I don’t need to show a survey, the evidence you are asking for, is part of the contemporary discussion of economics.

          When people talk of Austrians or Keynesians or Monetarist, we talk of ideas and philosphies that have already been discussed, defined and refined. We choose to align our interests with certain groups and theories because, using a phrase, “The wheel has already been invented.”

          You say “I assume to much about you”, but I am simply trying to point out to you that we have already worked on the issues of wages, regulations and employment. The answer is this, some believe in the Austrians view points, some the Keynes view point, some in the Monetarists or Marxism view points, etc.

          Myself, I would consider myself mostly Austrian, with a bit of True Keynesianism mixed in. That is, I mostly think when governments try to determine the where, what, when and how of production, they usually mess things up (i.e. higher unemployment, less chance for societal advancement and a lower standard of living.) This does not mean I think that government DOESN’T have a role in the economy. Child labor or theft would be two good examples of the necessity of governments. Further more, I believe the government should save excess tax revenue in good times and use that reserve of funds in bad times to help out the economy (True Keynesian Economics).

          And by the way, people do magically start to employ themselves. They are called entrepreneurs and it happens every day. Next, it is well known that regulation, does in fact hamper employment. The only thing everybody now fights over is, the amount of regulation needed.

          But, I will indulge you.

          http://www.nationalnotary.org/become_a_notary/become_a_california_notary.html
          cost – $159 (called barrier of entry)

          http://www.securitiesexam.com/become_stockbroker.html
          You need to pass the series 7($265) and 63($96) exams, which is usually paid for by your sponser firm (The people that hired you.) But, and here is the rub, you can’t take the tests without being sponsored by a NASD/FINRA or exchange member firm. Which means THEY HAVE TO OBTAIN a license from the government.

          http://www.marineinsight.com/careers-2/shipping/how-to-become-a-cruise-ship-captain/
          Want to captain the Love Boat? You need to go to college.

          http://www.ehow.com/how_5161305_become-certified-sports-agent.html
          You will need a Masters degress, to form a LLC, pass a league test (cost, $600-1200) and maintain yearly fees.

          http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,802687,00.html
          Want to be POTUS? Must be 35 years old and native born. Thats it!

          Its easier to become POTUS, then to become a notary! We need more tests, regulations and fees, that way we could end up with a better POTUS. He/she would enacted the right regulations, increase wages, make jobs rain for the sky and solve world hunger.

          God, I love the internet! Had enough yet Jon? I could do this all night. Google is the shit.

          PS My sis works at Google and the pay is fantastic. What do the Google executives think is the #1 road block in their way? Government regulation! It sure isn’t Yahoo!

        • But since we’re on the subject, why don’t you provide some evidence that shows that people that don’t have jobs now are simply waiting for the tyrannical regulations to go away so they can finally be self-employed. Show me something. Enough talk.

          The evidence exists in the costs of various barriers to entry. My favourite example is that it costs $1 million to register a taxi in NYC. Let’s just say a lot of unemployed people with cars could earn money if that system was severely deregulated.

          Here is my fuller thesis in that regard.

          http://azizonomics.com/2012/03/27/chart-of-the-decade/

          Therein there is a link to a John Stossel documentary that fleshed out the barriers to entry point:

        • Obviously entrepreneurship is a great thing but to act like every Joe, Jack, and Sally that up and decides to create any kind of business is going to save a dying economy is misleading. You still haven’t shown in any way what makes you think people will simply start jobs once regulations are scaled back. What regulations?

          You and Aziz have only mentioned some fees, and aside from the taxi startup license, which is just one type of job that would hardly affect a moribund economy, the fees you mentioned are nominal. We can argue all day whether or not the fees are fair or not, but the point is if you can’t pay a nominal fee like the ones you listed, you probably arent going to be able to afford creating a business much less pay anyone a decent wage in the first place.

          You didn’t address my point about the type of employment entrepreneurs provide either. It does matter. The company has to be successful and they would have to be able to pay people enough to afford to buy things. Having a decent minimum wage or low wage job is good for pocket change and to help pay for rent (barely depending on where you live) but the creation of those types of jobs will hardly put a dent in an economy during a recession. There are fast food joints and positions opening up all over the place. Why isn’t the economy doing better?

          You claim people try to become entrepreneurs everyday. Well there goes your theory, doesn’t it? There will always people that try to become entrepreneurs – no matter what.
          My only contention is that most people don’t want to put in the work required to becoming an entrepreneur; that is more of a barrier to entry than regulation. You probably couldn’t find too many people that even knew what regulations were on the books, much less which ones would most likely hinder the start up of a business. The serious people will know these things; the few that actually want to start their own business.

          But I just don’t understand where this assertion: less regulation (which regulation specifically?) will automatically lead to entrepreneurship? You can’t even point to a group of people that say they will start their own business once regulations are lifted. Who saying this? Where are these people?

        • Jon, it’s much more than fees. You need to consider the licensing involved; to run a lemonade stand in a lot of jurisdictions you have to pay hundreds of dollars and attend hours and hours of health and safety training. You have to have a fire extinguisher on the stand.

          Then you have to consider that a huge chunk of the poor cannot get access to capital to start a business because the banks are not lending unless people jump through huge hoops (e.g. MBA, experience in industry, collateral, etc). Why are they not lending? They can happily sit on their excess reserves and their algo carry trading with all the QE money and cream an easy profit without engaging in much actual banking.

          When there exists in parallel a large welfare system, it’s easier to just claim welfare than it is to jump through the hoops. I think that that is hugely problematic.

          I know that most people don’t necessarily want to be an entrepreneur. But you’re getting confused. Back in the 1950s (and at any point ’til the 80s or 90s really) people didn’t consider self-employment being an “entrepreneur”. I think that that is a side effect of all the managerialist MBA bullshit that kids are often put through nowadays. Getting off your ass and finding work is not “being an entrepreneur” it is just self-employment, a capacity for which human beings have used throughout hsitory.

        • “Jon, it’s much more than fees. You need to consider the licensing involved; to run a lemonade stand in a lot of jurisdictions you have to pay hundreds of dollars and attend hours and hours of health and safety training. You have to have a fire extinguisher on the stand”

          So lemonade stands is the solution to the world’s economic woes?

          “When there exists in parallel a large welfare system, it’s easier to just claim welfare than it is to jump through the hoops. I think that that is hugely problematic.”

          So once the “hoops” are removed people living on welfare will have an “aha!” moment and suddenly think starting their own business or working for someone is easier than living on welfare? Either welfare is the cakewalk you imply it is or not, Aziz. If it is such a cakewalk
          why would anyone get a job or start a job simply because regulations are lighter? Why would these same people, who won’t even get a job working for someone else, go the extra mile to start up their own business? It doesn’t make any sense.

          But I doubt you know anyone on welfare. I am almost most certain you don’t know an American on welfare, much less an African American. Have you ever been to an American ghetto, Aziz? The incentive of getting out of the ghetto is a motivator enough. This whole welfare queen thing is a bit overblown. Most of the people “that live it up” on welfare, probably have more than one job. Those that think welfare is glorious are probably the same people that are dealing drugs or prostituting. Nothing is glorious about it and welfare alone doesn’t amount to much.

          “Then you have to consider that a huge chunk of the poor cannot get access to capital to start a business because the banks are not lending unless people jump through huge hoops (e.g. MBA, experience in industry, collateral, etc). Why are they not lending? They can happily sit on their excess reserves and their algo carry trading with all the QE money and cream an easy profit without engaging in much actual banking.”

          No. Then you have to consider the uneducated masses, some of which can’t speak proper English. But never mind that, it’s those pesky “regulations!” Which ones were those again? Oh yeah! You keep mentioning fees and lemonade stands but nothing else. Unless you are going to give people handouts on entrepreneurial/job training, people aren’t going to start businesses once regulations they have never heard of go away. You have a much bigger hurdle to overcome: the hurdle of a lack of education and skills. How can you expect a business to thrive and be successful SIMPLY by ending regulations?

          ” I know that most people don’t necessarily want to be an entrepreneur. But you’re getting confused. Back in the 1950s (and at any point ’til the 80s or 90s really) people didn’t consider self-employment being an “entrepreneur”. I think that that is a side effect of all the managerialist MBA bullshit that kids are often put through nowadays. Getting off your ass and finding work is not “being an entrepreneur” it is just self-employment, a capacity for which human beings have used throughout hsitory.”

          I’m getting confused?! You can’t possibly have just said “people didn’t consider self-employment being an “entrepreneur.” That is just stupid, Aziz. What’s the difference? We both know what I am talking about and what you have been talking about and implying this whole time. Come on man rofl! Getting off your ass and finding work is called getting a job. It’s not self-employment! Changing the definition of self-employment is pointless. If you do believe people won’t get off their asses to find jobs, why would they start their own?
          Why dont you provide a shred of evidence for your assertions? Can you not even give me one survey that asks people if they would become self-employed if not for regulations?

          You and FO-Sho seem to struggle with answering these basic questions.

        • Jon,

          Do you just like to argue?

          You said, “You didn’t address my point about the type of employment entrepreneurs provide either.”

          Ah Jon, that would be ALL BUSINESSES. So like, ah, 100%.

          You said, “But I just don’t understand where this assertion: less regulation (which regulation specifically?) will automatically lead to entrepreneurship?”

          Ah Jon, like all of them. The entrepreneur has to take time away from R&D, marketing, raising funds to comply with the regulations in their choosen field. Surley you have heard of this before. This CAN’T be the first time you have run across these ideas.

          Honest questions for Jon.

          How old are you?

          Have you ever had a job?

          Have you ever studied economics?

          You talk about McDonald wages like everybody earns them. Do you have a survey to back that up?

          If you want people to earn “living wages”, why don’t you start your own business?

        • “Jon,

          Do you just like to argue?”

          Dammit you caught me! I fucking love it!

          You said, “You didn’t address my point about the type of employment entrepreneurs provide either.”

          “Ah Jon, that would be ALL BUSINESSES. So like, ah, 100%.”

          Pretty simplistic explanation. Maybe it’s my fault for not articulating properly what i am trying to say, let me put it succinctly: Most people are risk averse and do not want to put in the work required to start up a business. A lack of knowledge and fear of risk are the main barriers for entrepreneurs. People need incentives to create jobs and they need confidence in themselves and their business plan. This whole thing about regulations is the least of anyone’s worries. People that want to create jobs will – regulations be damned. That does not mean I believe in dumb regulations or unnecessary regulations.

          You said, “But I just don’t understand where this assertion: less regulation (which regulation specifically?) will automatically lead to entrepreneurship?”

          Ah Jon, like all of them. The entrepreneur has to take time away from R&D, marketing, raising funds to comply with the regulations in their choosen field. Surley you have heard of this before. This CAN’T be the first time you have run across these ideas.

          Ok so you are against all regulation. Got it. We know where that led us.

          Honest questions for Jon.

          “How old are you?”

          24

          “Have you ever had a job?”

          Oh plenty.
          Could you be any more condescending?

          Have you ever studied economics?
          A bit. Not that it matters, as someone the other day quoted: “ECONOMICS is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousandfold by a factor that is insignificant in, say, physics, mathematics or medicine— the special pleading of selfish interests .”
          Have you ever held a Nobel prize in economics? No?! So why bash Kruggy so much then? Society has decided he knows more than you about economics. But you’re smart and you’ve studied philosophy so you understand the fallacy of arguments from authority. So why should it matter if I haven’t studied economics when you don’t have a Nobel but bash Kruggy? (I just want to see how you answer) Its a bit of the pot calling the kettle black.

          “You talk about McDonald wages like everybody earns them. Do you have a survey to back that up?”

          As you said: I don’t need em! No but seriously you missed the point. Obviously most of the jobs have to pay a decent wage if you even want any semblance of an economic recovery. I’m pretty sure that’s basic common sense. No economics needed.

          If you want people to earn “living wages”, why don’t you start your own business?”

          Are you being deliberately dense or do you struggle with reading comp? The point of mcds wages was hypothetical. You must agree that a million low wage jobs is not the key to economic recovery. My only point was to say that it’s not enough for people to simply end regulations and start creating jobs. People have to be educated and start successful companies that give people enough income to purchase goods and buy homes, etc. Etc. My problem with you and Aziz’s position on this is the lack of specificity and the level of oversimplification.

          You guys seem to imply that there will be some mass upsurge in entrepreneurship once those vague regulations that are so vaguely tyrannical and crushing are lifted. This is historically not the case. You can look at other countries that have tried this. All that happened was people who already knew how to create businesses did what they always did, and those that already had businesses made more money (no biggie).

          The problem was that very few other people had the know how or education to create a successful business. But I guess if grown men operating lemonade stands or an apple cart suffices for you then you win. Not that people shouldn’t be allowed to do this and make a living. It’s just not what I think any rational person would exactly call a viable business – one that could provide for a family or even an individual.

          Point is: be specific about the type of jobs your are talking about and provide some basic survey about the people that say regulations are the main barrier to them starting a business.

          That’s it. I agree with entrepreneurship. I agree with abolishing retarded regulations. I think people should be allowed to operate lemonade stands without paying a fee.

        • There is no way of proving my hypothesis other than by slashing regulation on small business and seeing what happens; “surveys” are just surveys, they are just people answering questions, they are not real life.

          But I think evidence for my over-regulation hypothesis is quite self-evident:

          Is there more and deeper regulation and more legal jargon and hoops to jump through on small economic activity than 10 years ago? Much more.

          Are there less people employed in small/self-employed economic activity than 10 years ago? Much less.

          Is capital and lending for new small business much scarcer than it was 10 years ago? Absolutely.

          Is there a greater incentive to sit on welfare than 10 years ago? Moderately so; there has been an expansion welfare programs. Every unemployed person does a kind of cost-benefit analysis: is it easier for me to get up and work of my own accord, or is it easier for me to take unemployment, look for job openings and hope for the best?

          A personal example: my Father has a PhD in physics, 10 years of home-building experience (for himself), and the desire to do honest work. He worked for tech companies in Silicon Valley for 10 years, but lost his job around 5 years ago, and decided he wanted to become a self-employed building contractor. It has taken him most of the last 5 years to jump through the requisite hoops. It not only costs hundreds of thousands of dollars of surveys, etc, to get a permit to build a house, but five years of bureaucracy to get a relevant licence. People don’t have an appetite for that shit.

      • I will give you an example. I am Australian, your laws may be different (USA Right?) In Australia, you can not become a self employed worker to go from building to building factory to factory offering labour services (Sweeping, stacking boxes, driving a forklift etc, the type a welfare recipient could possibly perform with no schooling) You have to be employed. Why won’t someone employ a worker off the street and pay an hourly contract rate. Because the law forbids it! To employ someone a whole raft of labour laws prevent employers taking a risk with that person. You said you came from middle class parents. You just don’t get it. You socialist types are making it harder for honest hard working people to get a job in a tough job market. This is mental abuse!

        • As much as I deplore saying this we have become just one more decadent economy. We are in the throes of the last gasp as historical societies have proven over and over again. Not that it matters, but I’m a registered Independent and the fact is that has gotten me nowhere as the powers that be do as they damn well please. Frankly, I don’t know what the facts are concerning Obamacare so I’m in good company given that Nancy Pelosi urged passage of the bill (without being read) so they could read it later. Am I my brother’s keeper? Sure, to an extent. As a good neighbor, I offer to buy your groceries, take your kids to school, provide meals for a limited amount of time. But I’m not willing to hand you money to keep your potentially sorry ass alive to procreate and hand down the mindset that you are “deserving” based upon your own choice of watching me go to work while you shop for TVs, jewelry, cars and almost any food your fat ass desires. Like so many of us I have worked for mine and asked nothing from the omnipotent and all-knowing government. And, yes, I’ve faithfully paid my taxes to prolong your consumption of all the fried foods, cigarettes, alcohol, illegal drugs and on and on. And now, you overdose on any substance and I run to save you. Yeeep! I may not be at your funeral, but you’ll be remembered as the fooking moocher that you believe you are entitled to. So long sucker.

        • Huh? Socialist type? I wouldn’t call myself a socialist. Middle class? Sure. Is that an insult now? I think you are really confused about what I am saying. I think your paranoia derived from what you perceive is socialism is on a par with a über religious person’s fear/paranoia of the devil. I’m not sure how my “socialist” tendencies have led to anything seeing how I don’t employ people and thus cannot take away their opportunities. I don’t ship jobs overseas so… Yeah.,. What the hell are you talking about fascist? ;)

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  8. I don’t know what the solution is – maybe there is none – but something is definitely wrong with a system that pays for repeated heart surgeries for people who smoke and overeat. It’s just not right for “everyone else” to waste resources on people who are slowly killing themselves anyway.

    I do think there is a solution to the problem of morbidly obese people on airplanes. A pet peeve of mine I admit, but who here hasn’t had the experience of buying a seat on an airplane only to have some colossally overwight individual settle into the next seat, and then some, overflowing into the space you thought you had paid for? If they are willing to make body contact, and most are, there is nothing one can do. Airlines should be able to charge by weight (and volume,) to cover costs and to protect the rest of us.

    • Good to see you back.

      Deregulating markets so that the true cost is taken into account? Of course, this means market actors could and would discriminate, which in a way is just as problematic as government discriminations. But I don’t think that is anywhere near as politically problematic as it being done by government fiat. In a real market environment, needs and wants are more frequently effectively met by the market, simply because a need unfulfilled is a potential profit. The left likes to point fingers at “corporate” power being used to discriminate, but the corporate system is a purely statist creation, that concentrates power, crushes the market mechanism and thus (I would hypothesise) a lot of the market’s abilities to meet the needs of the poorest.

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  11. The fundamental argument is regarding “rights” and “responsibilities”. If we are going to give people a “right” to healthcare…then why do they not also have a “responsibility” to take care of themselves? What is the origin of debt from someone like myself, who happens to be a married man in a monogamous relationship, to someone who chooses to engage in promiscuous sexual behavior and contracts HIV or Chlamydia? Why should my insurance premiums be higher because of that person’s CHOICE to behave that way. You can make a similar argument for smoking, alcohol, drugs ….etc. Progressives always want to invoke emotion to try and make people feel guilty for not wanting to help these people…but the reality is…these people don’t want to help themselves….why is that my fault, and why should I be penalized for their lack of motivation to help themselves?

    In another vain…I happen to be a physician…if healthcare is a “right”…then where does society have the authority to claim my labor as a “right”? I paid close to $200,000 of my own money and spent 12+ years of my life to become trained….what is the origin of debt then to society that I have, which should require me to be a slave to society and provide free care to all as their “right”?

    • Well in a society based on personal responsibility, differences in personal behaviour would be reflected strongly in things like insurance costs, and your labour as a physician could not be conscripted.

      At the same time, those calling for universal healthcare do have something of a legitimate point in that it feels unfair that people who are sick through no fault of their own, e.g. those with a predisposition toward cancer might ended up paying astronomically expensive healthcare insurance.

      There are no easy answers, but I think the eventuality of government taking over the healthcare business will cause more problems (i.e. destroying the market mechanism, giving handouts to insurance companies, creating dependency) than it solves (i.e. looking after poor sick people).

    • Agreed. I know you studied hard and you deserve you fees via my taxes ( I am Auatralian we have unversal health care). I would be prepared pay your fees to save somone who looked after themselves, but not someone who abused their body.

      The question is: Is someone who abuses their body worthy of health care because they have a mental “deficit” and need protection? Where do we draw the line?

  12. Corporatism and government central planning result in very limited choices and can have very arbritray delivery systems in place. Life is predicable and dreary for the populace as a whole. The bureacrats and artistrocrats continue to enjoy the best fruits from highest point of the tree. When Obama promoted that he was going to give every citizen the same medical care as congressmen enjoyed, did you believe him? Does Obamacare equate to the healthcare provided to Congressmen? Will it ever, if not? No amount of equalization and regulation will ever come close, in my opinion.

    Aziz is right in his major premise. Entitlement is another trap. If you use the begging bowl too long, you will never change your outlook no matter how few coins are dropped to placate your hunger. Life will deliver swift unintented consequences from giving up your power of self-determinism, responsiblity and choice.

    The system, financial and governing, is currently rigged so very few can prosper. No, it is not all bad. The major problem I see is that a lot of people are going to die of hunger to correct the current situation. Fortunately, through the internet, there has never been a better exchange of information which can move us to a more sustainable future.

    • Fortunately, through the internet, there has never been a better exchange of information which can move us to a more sustainable future.

      This gives me a lot of hope.

  13. I’m a Canadian who has spent most of his life under an NHS similar to the dreaded one you seem to so fear. I have a hard time understanding the typical objections you raise in this article to “socialized medicine” as they seem a bit paradoxical. On the one hand, you argue that people are (and should be) responsible for (paying for) their own health care and then you object that, in a system where “society” pays for each individual’s health care (i.e. Obamacare and Canada’s MSP), individuals that are careless about their health (by being overweight, unfit or by smoking) will have to revert back to a system where they are, again, responsible for paying for their own health care. Logically, this objection is inconsistent. I have always suspected that the real objections are selfish, i.e. “I don’t want to pay for their healthcare.” That I can at least understand along with all the other arguments of the relative merits of socialism vs. libertarianism. But the argument against NHS that I hear in this article seems logically flawed.

    • I’m not even necessarily arguing against the NHS. I live in the UK, and so have a good deal of experience with socialised healthcare, so I am talking about the reality that I am used to.

      I’d refer you to what I wrote above in response to Vinny’s point:

      Those calling for universal healthcare do have something of a legitimate point in that it feels unfair that people who are sick through no fault of their own, e.g. those with a predisposition toward cancer might ended up paying astronomically expensive healthcare insurance.

      There are no easy answers, but I think the eventuality of government taking over the healthcare business will cause more problems (i.e. destroying the market mechanism, giving handouts to insurance companies, creating dependency) than it solves (i.e. looking after poor sick people).

      The bigger point though isn’t even really about healthcare. It’s about systemic fragility; a society dependent upon spending and services that come from the centre is fragile to those services being taken away. We see this in Europe today, where spending cuts are obliterating the European economies, resulting in massive tax revenue drop-offs, and thus even bigger deficits and more government debt.

      Ultimately, if society chooses through the democratic process to have universal healthcare, then that will be the case. However we should be honest about the effects that this centralisation (of money, of power, etc) will have.

      • “Ultimately, if society chooses through the democratic process to have universal healthcare, then that will be the case. However we should be honest about the effects that this centralisation (of money, of power, etc) will have.”

        Can we not have our cake and eat it too? If we don’t engage in casino finance and war as the primary foreign policy, can we not indulge in social spending? Healthcare ought to be a right; it is one of the most important things next to defense of civil liberties.
        You seem to be resigned to the position that universal health care has to be a bureaucratic nightmare with limited choice/input from citizens.

        • I live with the reality of universal healthcare; I take the upside and the downside. In some ways it is much better than the American system, and in some ways it is much worse.

          The biggest bugbear I actually have is not statism as Professor Locke thinks, but centralism. I think that some countries will want to have socialist systems. It is possible to have more robust forms of socialism than the kind of big government socialism that gives birth to corporatism, by doing it at a more local/responsible level. Overall, I prefer the market, but I respect the choice of certain countries to have more socialist solutions, so long as they don’t prevent their citizens from leaving.

          In the United States in particular, I am a big advocate of decentralisation, because the United States has the ability to be 50 mini-nations, each with a separate system. Some states will choose to have socialist healthcare, and others will not. Good luck to each. Both systems can work. Imposing Obamacare from the Federal level is a recipe for hyper-fragility.

        • I dOnt disagree with that. But let me ask you this: if the govt simply mandated every state to cover all of its citizens for basic medical care and allocated money for this but allowed stAtes to implement any system it wanted, as long as it covered all, would you be opposed to that?

        • But let me ask you this: if the govt simply mandated every state to cover all of its citizens for basic medical care and allocated money for this but allowed stAtes to implement any system it wanted, as long as it covered all, would you be opposed to that?

          I’m a relativist. I deal in relatives. That particular suggestion is not as good to me as full localisation, but it’s better than the status quo.

      • If one is serious about fixing problems in healthcare, it is critical to define the problems. The first and most essential question is whether medical care is a right. Progressives have done a good job of controlling the narrative on this issue. It feels good to say that we should take care of everyone. European countries do so, and our failure in this regard makes us less civilized and less compassionate than they. Fortunately, we are not Europe, and America is founded on a different set of principles. We only have to open the newspapers to see what the European welfare system is doing to the fabric of their economies. In fact, in countries like England, they are moving their healthcare system away from socialized healthcare, because it is impossible to provide everything to everyone without rationing care, and patients simply will not stand for it.

        Medical care is not a right, but in a civilized society, it is a responsibility. This responsibility falls not on the shoulders of physicians who bear the greatest burden of this problem, but on everyone. This means that government- both State and Federal- does not act like an insurance company, but instead helps to make it possible for individuals to receive proper medical care. There are many ways that this can be done. Laws can be created that make it easier for doctors to deliver care to patients, not more difficult as has been the case for quite some time. These laws can work to reform outdated and cumbersome policies as they pertain to insurance companies. Currently individuals cannot purchase insurance across state lines or over the internet. Insurance companies also do not have to abide by the same anti-trust laws that everyone else must comply with. Medical liability is another area where serious reform is needed. The current system fails the patients who have been injured by the medical system, and disproportionately rewards insurance companies and trial attorneys.

        There was a time when indigent patients or patients with complex or chronic diseases received their care at county and charity hospitals. This care was actually quite good and more reliable than the haphazard care that uninsured patients receive today. Much of this dysfunctional healthcare system is the fault of the federal government when they created EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act) and made it illegal for a hospital to send such a patient to the county hospital if they showed up in their emergency room. This law also was in large part the reason why costs are shifted from patients who could not pay for their care to those who could. The government was responsible for creating this huge unfunded mandate and used their police powers to compel doctors and hospitals to give away care without any compensation.

        Finally, there is the issue of personal responsibility. There would be no need for a mandate to purchase healthcare insurance if patients were reconnected to the costs of medical care. Currently, the cost of health insurance is astronomical and people have come to regard it as a prepaid healthcare policy and do not want to pay any more out of their own pockets. With health insurance reform, these policies can be tailored to meet patients’ needs and will become more affordable when ridiculous mandates such as hair transplants or yoga are no longer required benefits. The costs of these policies will plummet. If patients were required to pay for the first dollar of their medical care as is the case with health savings accounts, patients will become better consumers of healthcare dollars. This same concept can be applied to Medicare and Medicaid under the premium support system as popularized by Paul Ryan.

        There are solutions to the problems facing American healthcare. Obamacare failed to solve them and merely magnified them. A bold new plan is needed and is possible if bona fide experts in healthcare- those who deliver it every day- are at the center of its creation.

        • Interesting post. I very much like your definition; it’s not a right, but in a civilised society it is a responsibility. I agree with that, and even more I agree with your point that Doctors should be at the very heart of solutions. Politicans and bureaucrats just don’t get it.

          You’re not completely correct that England is moving away from a socialist system in healthcare, though. Cameron is maintaining that it will all still be free at the point of delivery, i.e. socialised, even if they are paying contractors to do it.

          Also, while I strongly disagree with a lot of the details of Obamacare, I don’t think it will be possible to do a full post-mortem on it until at least 5-10 years have elapsed since its full roll-out, which hasn’t even happened yet.

        • Very good and interesting post! But : “Medical care is not a right, but in a civilized society, it is a responsibility. This responsibility falls not on the shoulders of physicians who bear the greatest burden of this problem, but on everyone”

          But, and this is assuming you believe in rights, how can you assert medical care is not a right and anything else is? Read my longer post at the bottom. If you care to.

          Why would rights even exist by your logic in this post? Why wouldn’t everything be a responsibility?

        • Also, it seems like you are just prevaricating when you say health care is a responsibility and not a right. Its like you don’t want to commit to saying it’s a right because calling it a right would be incompatible, in your mind. But what’s the difference? You obviously believe everyone should have the right to health care if you believe “a civilized society is responsible for giving care.” You believe in certain rights and you believe in certain responsibilities but where’s the distinction? Why are you won’t to call some things rights and other things responsibilities?

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  15. We don’t need a crystal ball to see where government run healthcare will lead, just look at the UK and Canada, where rationing and long waiting periods have been taking place for a long time now. When ANYTHING is provided for free the recipient rarely values it. Nobody has the right to receive unlimited healthcare for free and still insist on the right to pursue an unhealthy lifestyle. Would any insurance company cover a driver who insists on driving in a reckless and unsafe manner? I don’t want the government to mandate how I live my life but I also don’t expect the government to pay for my healthcare. Finally, a gentle reminder, can anyone cite an example of an enterprise run by the government that is fiscally responsible and in good financial condition? Let’s see, Medicare?, Medicaid?, The Postal Service?, Social Security?, Cash for Clunkers?, oh yes, the GSA? Surely I have missed something?

    • The same problem in Australia. The worst thing is the hospitals don’t even check photo ID when checking your Government “Medicare Card” (Last time I visted a hospital emergency ward) As a result it is abused by illegal residents, and family members flying over on holidays.

      There has to be a safety net, but stringent checking of scams.

  16. Woild I help him? No! Nor would I save the life of a meth addict who has made wrong choices and will continue to do so until stopped.

  17. the govt creates and promotes immorality to more fully legitimize it’s existence. High taxation, lotteries, cigarettes (while running ads about quitting), abortion, ad infinitem, ad nauseum.

  18. While the risk is genuine, how is that different from now, except that now insurance companies make those decisions? The disingenuous debate over “death panels” ignores the fact that there will always be some sort of rationing, as there are not infinite resources to devote to health care. The real question is who should be making the decisions.

    • Exactly right. And the answer is the people, of course. The trick is to create an institution that accurately does what people want.

  19. “The fundamental argument is regarding “rights” and “responsibilities”. If we are going to give people a “right” to healthcare…”

    Very interesting, Vinny. I think your post highlights the problem with “rights” and is a good starting point to renew an age old discussion. What are rights? Why do we have them?

    Feel free to correct me if I am wrong but I assume you believe in certain “rights.”

    If you have a libertarian slant you probably believe in the right to your life, your property, etc.

    But where does any “right” come from? Obviously a “right” is not granted from some transcendent being that comes down from on high, taps you on the head with a magic wand and poof, you are imbued with rights. No. “Rights” are abstract – they exist in the mind only. Ergo, people bestow rights on themselves and others. Why is a “right” to your property anymore real than a “right” to your life? To your leisure? To the fruits of your labor? To your health? “Rights” are essentially a part of a social contract with your fellow human beings. Because the only “right” to property you have that exists in a state of nature is the ability to create or take/utilize property and your ability to keep it.

    When you enter into a social contract and “formalize” your “rights”, that is, codified them into legal doctrines, you are depending upon the good will and the honesty of the humans around you to uphold your “rights.” In other words, you only have “rights” as long as other people agree with and respect your rights. Mother nature doesn’t give a fuck about your rights. People die senselessly in freak accidents everyday. Homes are destroyed by fire everyday.

    The process of acknowledging “rights” is basically the process of formalization of what I would call good ideas (though not always) into doctrines on the historical trajectory of becoming laws (down the road). Rights are a human creation (belying the contention the classical liberals held: that they came from god). The idea that rights are static and not subject to the machinations of the human mind is incorrect. People respect different things in different places; though I will concede that the closest thing approaching an absolute “right” is the “right” to life. Peoples ideas change. People’s perception of what is good or necessary will change as well. But again, the right to life is something that will probably remain the most constant – even though this right is violated quite often!

    ” In another vain…I happen to be a physician…if healthcare is a “right”…then where does society have the authority to claim my labor as a “right”? I paid close to $200,000 of my own money and spent 12+ years of my life to become trained….what is the origin of debt then to society that I have, which should require me to be a slave to society and provide free care to all as their “right”?

    Very interesting! I think we claim other people’s labor as a right all the time. And unless you disagree with police forces and/or you can or think you can defend your person and your property at all times without help, so do you. The very invocation of the word “right” or “rights” is essentially a plea for humans to acknowledge your desires. If you had no doubt you could protect your life at all times you probably wouldnt enter into a social contract where that “right” is acknowledge. Because perhaps entering into a society would be at the expense of giving up some of your liberty. Anyway, I digress. The point is that by saying you have a “right” to something you are expecting someone to acknowledge that right, uphold that right, and aid in the protection of that right.

    To remain consistent with your position: no one has a right to your labor – you must then give up your right to someone’s labor. You must not declare that you have a “right” to property or life, etc. if by ” right” you expect someone to be obligated to protect you or assist you in protecting your property or getting it back from a thief. Why do you have a right to a man’s time? Why do you have a right to another man’s life to protect your’s? If you dont believe you have the right to police or fire firefighters congrats on being consistent, but I would question what you mean by “right” and why you even invoke the word!

    At best, “rights” are good ideas that are upheld for long periods by society. At worst, rights are whimsical, and basically non-static positions people take in times of plenty and eschew at bad times. When you can take enough and abide the Lockean proviso, a “right” to property makes sense and will probably hold true. When can’t take enough, a “right” to property becomes less a “right” in the eyes of those who don’t have property. Not that I don’t believe in “rights” or rather, really good ideas being upheld. All that to illustrate the capricious nature of rights.

    Given the capricious nature of rights, and the vicissitudes of human opinion of the good, why is a right to healthcare less of a “right” as you seem to imply? Because someone is asking for another’s labor? Well why make social contracts or create a society at all?

    By now my guess is you will state you are simply asking to be recompensed for services rendered. That no one has a “right” to your “right” of labor means no one has the right to your free labor?

    Would you be ok with private police forces? If so why?

    And if you got paid for rendering your services to a patient in a “right to your labor healthcare system” even though that particular patient doesn’t pay you, does it matter and why?

    • I happen to believe and agree with the framers of the United States as they laid out in The Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” ….Key among this statement is the use of the term “pursuit” of happiness….not the “guarantee” of happiness….which it would seem many progressives in this country think is a “right” in their pursuits of an unrealistic and unobtainable Utopia.

      • “I happen to believe and agree with the framers of the United States as they laid out in The Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” ….Key among this statement is the use of the term “pursuit” of happiness….not the “guarantee” of happiness….which it would seem many progressives in this country think is a “right” in their pursuits of an unrealistic and unobtainable Utopia.”

        “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

        And if the “creator” endowed other rights such as the right to rob, murder and steal? Then what? You are at the whims of a creator. Rights come from people. Period. It’s a part of a social contract.

        “Key among this statement is the use of the term “pursuit” of happiness….not the “guarantee” of happiness….which it would seem many progressives in this country think is a “right” in their pursuits of an unrealistic and unobtainable Utopia.”

        Nonsense. You contradict yourself as soon as to started typing this paragraph because before writing it you quoted: ” We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The creators seem to disagree that happiness is not a right.

        The last sentence is a straw man.

        • This topic deserves a full post, which I am slowly working toward (difficult topic, and difficult for me to express what I want to express so may be a few days away).

          The bottom line here is that instead of debating which rights we have or don’t have (that will always be a matter of opinion) what we have to discuss is the kind of society that different conceptions of rights produces .

          In my view, what we need to be aiming for is the minimisation of suffering, but that is not as simple as just giving everything they want, because that approach tends to create debt, and dependency, and a loss of self-determination, all of which are hugely problematic and in my view tend to lead to more suffering.

          I encourage that different localities experiment, to find what works best for them at the present juncture. However I tend to lean toward small welfare nets that give priority to those who cannot work (e.g. children, elderly, disabled) and are in direct danger of extreme poverty/homelessness. This tends to exclude the idea of a universal health system, and instead encourages a government insurance program for the very poor (like medicare but with a higher percentage of the money spent on care) administered at a local level.

        • I agree with what you are saying, if I am understading it correctly. I belive that the core role of the “national / federal” government is limited to “provide for the common defense”….(i.e. military), to provide a means to examine and settle disputes of contract law (i.e. – The courts) and provide security from theft and violence via local law enforcement. Other than that, the remainder of many of the items the federal government is currently involved with should be left to the local government (state/county/city) to determine. This philosophy provides multiple benefits. For one, the closer one is as a citizen subject to these rules, to the level of govenrmental exerting such control, the more effective one’s voice will be to effect change if one does not like the way things are being handled. Secondly, if one’s voice is ignored, one has the option to ‘vote with your feet’, and move to a different state/city…etc that is operating more in line with your preferred philosophy. If the city of San Francisco wants to mandate that all businesses include coverage of erotic massage therapy to their employees, the rest of the country shouldn’t be on the hook for any additional costs that may arise due to increased levels of STDs in San Francisco….that city should have to bear the full cost of such a decision and not expect some kind of bail out from the federal government when they cannot pay all the healthcare bills of the increased cases of HIV, Chlamydia and Herpes.

          This idea that is based on the centralization of power and ideas…and that all people should be required to follow all of these ideas because some jackass that has a degree from Pricenton or Harvard says that this is the ‘right way’ to do things is assenine.

        • Yes, you got it. Centralisation is the issue. With localised systems people can vote with their feet, and it is more accountable.

        • “And if the “creator” endowed other rights such as the right to rob, murder and steal?”…Really? Based on this statement, it is clear to me that there is no point is further discussing this issue with you. I can only pray that someday you will see the light through the darkness that currently clouds your mind.

        • “And if the “creator” endowed other rights such as the right to rob, murder and steal?”…Really? Based on this statement, it is clear to me that there is no point is further discussing this issue with you. I can only pray that someday you will see the light through the darkness that currently clouds your mind.”

          It’s a valid point, Vinny. People create “rights.” that’s the point I was making. If you had rights granted by a creator they wouldn’t be subject to change, but rights change all the time. Look at NDAA. If rights were endowed wouldn’t the abrdigement of endowed rights be prevented by this creator?

        • “If rights were endowed wouldn’t the abridgement of endowed rights be prevented by this creator?”

          The curious as well as the critics of Christianity ask this question. If God is all-powerful and all loving, then why does He permit evil and suffering in the world? Various answers have been given, but permanently settling the issue is impossible because so many of our answers raise further questions. Nevertheless, our lack of ability to answer the question perfectly does not mean that we cannot offer possible solutions. Of course, I do not assume to be able to answer these questions definitively.

          First of all, it is possible that God has reasons for allowing evil to exist that we simply cannot understand. In this the Christian can have confidence in God knowing that His ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). As the Bible says, the just shall live by faith (Hab. 2:4).

          Sin is rebellion against God and His created order, but God has not left us alone in this fallen world. He continued to enter this world, pointing us to Himself, to truth, to morality, purity, and love. He used the evil of the world (liars, perjurers, the envious, etc.), to bring His Son to the cross so that we might have the opportunity to obtain eternal life. In this, God has not stepped away from fallen creation, but has stepped into it by becoming Jesus. God works within the fallen world to effect change and He uses fallen people to accomplish His will. In this, He is proving His sovereignty over evil, suffering, and rebellious people, proving that sin and evil are utterly futile, and that He is worthy of honor and glory.

          So, if we want God to stop evil and suffering, then must He stop all of it? We have no problem with this when it means stopping a catastrophe, or a murder, or a rape. But what about when someone thinks of something evil? Evil is destructive whether it is acted out or not. Hatred and bigotry in someone’s heart is wrong. If it is wrong, and if God is to stop all evil, then He must stop that person from thinking his own thoughts. To do that, God must remove his freedom of thought. Furthermore, which person on the earth has not thought something evil? God would be required, then, to stop all people from exercising their free will. This is something God has chosen not to do. Therefore, we could say that one of the reasons that God permits evil and suffering is because of man’s free will.

          It is quite possible that God uses the suffering to do good. In other words, He produces patience through tribulation (Rom. 5:3). Or He may desire to save someone through it. Take for example, the account of Joseph who was sold into slavery by His brothers. What they did was wrong and Joseph suffered greatly for it. But, later, God raised up Joseph in Egypt to make provisions for the people of that land during the coming drought of seven years. Not only was Egypt saved, but also his family and brothers who originally sold him into slavery. Joseph finally says to them, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:15-21). Of course, the greatest example of God using evil for good is the death of Christ. Evil people brought him to the cross, but God used that cross as the means to save the world.

          But then we must ask, if this is true, are we working against God by working against evil and suffering? No, we are not. God says he does not want us to sin and suffer. But it is simply true that God can use evil despite its apparent despicable nature.

          God is in the world using the world and its failures for His glory and the benefit of those who listen to Him.

          But then, what about those who seem to suffer innocently with no benefit resulting? What about the woman who is raped, or the innocent bystander who is killed by a stray bullet. In both cases, the victims and families suffer nothing but pain and loss. What good can this possibly be?

          I think that the answer is two-fold. One, ultimately, no one is innocent. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) and are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). There is none innocent. Though this is Biblically accurate, it does not satisfy the question emotionally. Why do little babies suffer for things they have not done? I must acknowledge that I do not know. Ultimately, we must trust God who knows the beginning from the end and sees the grand picture. He will have the final word and He will be vindicated.

          Suffering is the result of human sin. The world today, is not the way that God created it, and because of that, all are vulnerable to the effects of sin in the world. Why does one person suffer and another does not? Why do catastrophes happen to some and not to others? It is because sin is in the world. But there will come a day when the Lord will return and cleanse this world of all sin and all suffering.

          “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away,” (Rev. 21:4).

        • @ Vinny. I am enjoying this conversation! The only thing I have to say about your last post is that it is unsound. It is predicated on a very questionable premise – the existence of God.

          If I were to tell you the reason that the Sun goes down at night was due to a particle called u2, shouldn’t I provide evidence to suggest that U2 exists and is in fact a particle?

        • I am done with this discsussion with you. It is now clear that nothing I say will sway your opinions…so anything beyond what I have already said is a waste of my time.

          May you have a nice rest of your life here on earth.

        • “I am done with this discsussion with you. It is now clear that nothing I say will sway your opinions…so anything beyond what I have already said is a waste of my time.

          May you have a nice rest of your life here on earth.”

          Oh Vinny! I could say likewise but I honestly like this discussion. Don’t blame me for your lack of persuasive abilities :)

  20. A long and interesting discussion. I would suggest a couple of quotes from Benjamin Franklin are particularly apt here:

    “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.” –Benjamin Franklin

    “History affords us many instances of the ruin of states, by the prosecution of measures ill suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy… These measures never fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favored and the people oppressed; whence a total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connections, by which the whole state is weakened.” –Benjamin Franklin, Emblematical Representations

    …all of which go to show it’s still SS, DD.

    Dick Nelson

  21. Pingback: Britain’s “Fat and Fags” Health Policy

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