Saturday, April 02, 2005

Better than I said it myself

Catching up on my blog reading, I found that Russell Roberts at Cafe Hayek said something very similar to my thoughts yesterday on weaning ourselves from the nanny state. He said it, however, far better than I did:
There are two different philosophical arguments against the idea of people taking care of themselves. One view argues that government provision of social security is simply better because it is a contract between the generations where we all take responsibility for one another. To me this is romance at best or a hoax or a fraud at worst. What does it mean to say we all take responsibility for one another? A family of 300 million people isn't a family. And somehow I lose all the romance when poor workers are taxed to support wealthy retirees. I just don't get it...

But there is another argument against personal responsibility that I find even more mystifying. In this argument, without government provision of something, it simply would not exist. When I write or talk on getting government out of the retirement business, some people inevitably email me telling me that in my ideal world, poor seniors would starve in the streets because social security wouldn't be there to take care of them.

One of the problems with this argument is that it ignores the fact that poor young people have a tougher time because they are forced to pay for social security. But the deeper problem with it is the presumption that without government, it simply would not get done. In this view, without government schools, there would be no education. Without government food stamps, there would be no aid to the poor. Without the post office, no letters would get delivered.
He closed by quoting Bastiat's The Law, my favorite political essay (it in fact is the source of the quotation in my blog header). Go read the entire entry (and The Law if you never have), it's terrific.


Blogger Terry Finley said...

Nice Blog. Thank you.

It is high time for all of us
to accept personal respon-

Check us out:

Terry Finley

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 9:12:00 PM  

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