Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why You Should Not Take A Village To Get Your Child Raised

I did promise it, didn't I? Fair warning: it's not real to me until I see it in print; final editing occurs after blog entries are posted. This is a difficult topic. I plan to get one version done and posted, go do other things, then come back and see if it wants adjusted. It's not fair but that's how it works.

I watched a good portion of Gattaca tonight. I love that film. It's a pretty movie with a marvelous cast (look, having Ethan Hawke as a Christmas present is not really all that much to ask for, it it?) and the soundtrack is exceptional, but that's not why I love it.

See, I'm probably not supposed to be here. And not just the "Midwestern chick with almost no college holding down a seriously tech-y job" thing, either. I had rheumatic fever, a serious case, when I was 4 and 5 years old; spent most of a year in bed, in pain. I was dreadfully nearsighted as far back as I can remember and concealed it (I didn't know any better!) until I was in third grade. Until I was an adult, I got strep every time we vacationed and not just a sore throat: scary high fevers requiring medical intervention. Two serious car accidents in my teens and twenties and another bout of rheumatic fever in between: the odds are that, like Vincent in Gattaca, I should have been dead a few thousand heartbeats back. I'm not. In fact, thanks to luck and hard work, I'm in excellent health. My heart's unharmed.

We are not just our genetics; we are not just the product of what happens to us. We're fixable.

But nobody owes it to us to fix us. I believe that forcing our fellow citizens to carry that burden is immoral.

Let's consider a family with a very ill child. They cannot afford to give this child the help it needs, so they go to the government.

Governments, interestingly enough, do not create wealth. They cannot conjure money from the air; when they try, they make the money they issue worth less and less until eventually, it is worth nothing at all. This functions exactly as a tax does: value which you have earned is taken from you. This is usually too much bother for governments, so they get "their" money more directly, by taxation.

Taxation is most usually universal; everyone, or nearly everyone, gets tapped. It may or may not be progressive, asking a greater percentage of persons with greater wealth, or it may be based on consumption of all or some commodities as a sales or value-added tax. But usually anyone with any money is made to contribute.

This includes the vast bulk of the population, a group which is generally just scraping by. Near the lower end of the fat middle of the bell curve, we have single-parent households of modest income and large families with two wage-earners and at the upper end are the semi-professionals and skilled trades with smaller familes or none at all, but the middle, the biggest group of taxpayers, is a group without much to spare and plenty of problems of their own. They set their own priorites and the vast majority of them do not rely on public assistance; they have probably got very basic insurance coverage for emergencies.

Now our family-with-sick-child comes along (multiplied by their hundreds) and thanks to a Government Program, picks the pockets of, mostly, people who had little if anything to spare. Your Tiny Tim, with a chance of survival even worse than mine as a child, counts for more than the machinist's son with a broken arm? Counts for more than the widow's ability to pay her gas bill? --Maybe to you.

Look, if you'd like to ask the people of your "village" for help, most of them would, as much as they could actually spare. That's not the same as having money -- an amount they have little control over -- taken from them to help you.

Worse yet, your own need will be weighed-- by some panel or board or bureaucrat -- against the needs of others. It may be denied or restricted. They don't care a fig for your child, only for whatever rules or ideals they have been given to follow. In the interest of "fairness," most are given little discretion.

If the help you are freely given by individuals and voluntary associations is not enough, I'm sorry. I am deeply and sincerely sorry. But our world is neither perfect nor is it pefectable. It is not acceptable to harm others to improve things for you and yours. Not even a little harm.


Anonymous said...

Well said! From one libertarian to another.

Anonymous said...

I don't like "efficiency" arguments for a voluntary economy, even though they are true. Were they inefficient, I'd still want those choices. A century on, we cannot remember just how much money used to change hands "charitably" before that function was nationalized--especially from the filthy rich, who were fun to have around. That class no longer exists, and I miss them. Gates has a large ranch house, not a mansion. Very large.

Let's stipulate that a free world would, in fact, be expensive: when most of us were done paying our street tolls, K-12 education bills and co-op health club ("hospital") fees, our pockets still might not jingle like a single cowboy's. SFW, we'd feel better. I enjoy my Lockean inefficiencies. Call it a moral sentiment.

I don't feel ripped off by those shattered families; I do by the ones basking in the reflected glow of giving away other people's money. Where's the virtue in it? How can clergy--Jewish clergy, even--commend it from the pulpit?

Elephant, room, some assembly: Much of what gets noised about as "government" medical aid is an accounting trick. Providers have a deal. They provide, regardless of ability to pay, collect what they can extort, then pump up the balance unconscionably and claim that against their government-mandated provider status. Absent programs, that care would still be extended, but an accountant or two might be out of work.

Roberta X said...

It's not an efficiency argument I'm making -- though the notion kind of creeps in -- it's "voluntary" vs. "involutary."

This is actually a line-of-pikemen problem, which is itself a large-scale Prisoner's Dilemna. Explication may follow.

staghounds said...

Old Davy Crockett was right about exactly this issue, including the fact that "Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. "

BobG said...

If it takes a village to raise a child, either there's something wrong with the child, or something very wrong with the village.
Just my opinion.

phlegmfatale said...

well said.

Anonymous said...

Your lack of compassion and humanity is stunning. The tighter you clutch your purse, the easier it is to lose it.


princewally said...

"Your lack of compassion and humanity is stunning. "

Care to explain? How does objecting to the forcible leeching of my life demonstrate a lack of compassion or humanity? Being willing to live my life for its own sake on its own terms proves my humanity.

Less said...

"Your lack of compassion and humanity is stunning. "

That's bullshit...

Humanity is synonymous with benevolence which is defined as "charitableness".

Charity is giving freely of oneself, without coersion.

Taxations is not charity since it is mandated and enforced with threat of violence.

Yeah, I'm coming to burn your fucking village down...

Less said...

BTW, FWIW, sorry to swear in your home Bobbi... I forget my manners sometimes...

Still it's better than the bar fight I got into last week!!


Anonymous said...

Less: "Yeah, I'm coming to burn your fucking village down..."

I think your humanity is showing. I have a more positive view of humans.

When arguements fail to persuade, we have to go to war.

Attack my village at your peril.


NotClauswitz said...

It takes a Viking to raze a village, or a Saracen or two.

Roberta X said...

"Lack of compassion and humanity?" How compassionate does a person have to be to be robbed a the point of a 1040A?

Anon, BRB, you miss the point. Forcible redistribution is not voluntary. How much did you give to the Wheeler Mission this year of your own accord? Don't you care about hungry people?

Anonymous said...

"Your lack of compassion and humanity is stunning. The tighter you clutch your purse, the easier it is to lose it."


Is this the best answer that you can reply with?
My support of people less fortunate than myself should be my decsion, not yours.
Why are people compelled to give away what I have to work so hard to get? And it isn't just the feds dipping into my pocket. It is every two bit politician with a "special" program or the city that I work in but don't live in.
Seems to me that taxation with out representation is unconstitutional.
I would support a tea party.

Anonymous said...

My use of the expression "lack of compassion or humanity" comes from this: I read a lot of blogs like this one just to see what folk are yammering about. I have yet to read anyone's thoughts on how their financial support of law enforcement, fire fighters, soldiers, public roads, postal service is coerced. Most of the complaints are about being forced at gunpoint to shell out for social programs. I guess I fail to see the difference.

I never whine about my taxes. I will work to throw out those who waste the money. My taxes generally go for the common good.

I hope that those of you who decry government spending never need the taxpayers' help. It would be a moral dilemma hard to reconcile.


Tam said...

It's all coerced, BRB, not just the "charity".

I do try and practise what I preach when it comes to feeding at the public trough; I hope I'm never forced into a Room 101 scenario.

Sigivald said...

The smallest nitpick:

While governments do not create wealth, they do (in their proper and necessary state) provide the conditions for creating wealth, through the enforcement of contracts and the maintenance of general legal order and national defense.

This doesn't give them any moral right to tax in general, for general welfare, but they do have a part to play in wealth creation, even if they don't do it themselves.

(After all, people who accept no government are anarchists, not libertarians, who support a limited government for specific functions that necessitate one.

CF Nozick on that one, and for why private law enforcement and contract enforcement end up being government anyway, or so similar as to make no difference.)

Roberta X said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"I never whine about my taxes. I will work to throw out those who waste the money. My taxes generally go for the common good."

Are you kidding me?
Exactly who have you thrown out?
Sheep in people's clothing is the majority these days.
Stand up and make a descision.

Stop giving my money to people who are able to fend for them selves!

I continuously support the firemen, police, schools, library, building code inspector, local street sweeper, janitor,mayor, county sheriff from my payroll city taxes and property taxes.

Please tell me why I have to provide for someones child who is sick without my permisson.
Nobody is asking me if I want ot give.
They just take my money and give it to a "special" program and it gets dispersed to "someone" I will never get to see.

Roberta X said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roberta X said...

Sigvald, p'raps you had better check my tags; I'm at the anarchic end of "libertarian." The argument that governments are necessary to the creation of wealth is an old one and not one we are going to resolve here. L. Neil Smith has had a thought or two along these lines -- of course, he's a mean, mean man.

Anon, BRB, first off, back out to my main blog page and read Part Two, "Why The Village Took You." It should help you work your way up to a major snit. O thou blogless and e-mail-less defender of the common weal, I promise you a rant about my having to pay for your obnoxious expressways (don't use 'em, myself), public schools, and the fire and po-lice departments, not to mention the military. (If a country's such a ratbag place that the inhabitants won't voluntarily dig into their pockets to pay for defense and/or serve in the armed services themselves, forget it; it's got no reason to keep goin'). I object to having to pay for anything I don't use.

There are other ways to pay for these things, more direct ways that enrich fewer bloated slugs and give the "progressives" less to bleat about.

Less said...

"I have yet to read anyone's thoughts on how their financial support of law enforcement, fire fighters, soldiers, public roads, postal service is coerced. Most of the complaints are about being forced at gunpoint to shell out for social programs. I guess I fail to see the difference."

I think everyone hates the post office! Why does something like FedEx exist? Why is it illegal to offer a postal service more efficient/cheaper than the USPS (Lysander Spooner and the American Letter Mail Company)?

As for roads? Why is there an increasing privatization of highways and road systems all over the place? Why is there so much debate in Illinois over the "temporary" tollway system that exists? We've had so much corruption with the state building shoddy roads that it makes one shudder!

Cops? Firemen? Try calling 911 sometime and see the response in Chicago! Slower than molasses in January... Further, the Illinois budget is paralyzed because of police, teacher, and fireman pensions.

Ok, how about the CIA? How 'bout the BATFE? DEA? A long list of fantastically inefficient government entities exists that live off of your taxes...

Let's not even get started on public schools...

"I never whine about my taxes. I will work to throw out those who waste the money. My taxes generally go for the common good."

I've love to have some of the kool-aide you're drinking, Hoss... Maybe you should start whining about your taxes and what they're being spent on. The problem is that there doesn't seem to be much difference between the guy you're throwing out and the guy you're voting in.

Anonymous said...

My first visit and I like what I see so far very much. I'm going to go and look around some more.

As a homeschooler who still has to pay school taxes (and for other reasons), you can be sure your argument resonates with me!