Friday, April 4, 2014

On "Letting Poor People Die"

In my blog post of yesterday regarding Dylan Scott's TPM DC article Conservatives Have A New Scheme To Strip People Of Obamacare Coverage, I left a short reply to one correspondent's sarcastic comeback to my comments critical of ObamaCare's Medicaid subsidies to the "poor/." The correspondent said "The moral thing is to simply let poor people die." Here is my reply:

There was never a time in America, before the welfare state, when poor people were "left to die," because charity was plentiful for the few people who really needed it. It's not immoral to help another. What's immoral is for our own government to seize the earnings of people who work their way above poverty for the unearned benefit of those who didn't (or won't), and deny them the right to spend their own money as they see fit—including deciding for themselves, based on their own values and personal circumstances, who, when, and in what capacity to offer charity.

I'd like to expand on these comments.

The statement itself is logically invalid. Everything man needs to survive and thrive must be created by productive work. Nothing is available free in nature. Poverty is the natural state of man. Yet, the vast majority of people in industrialized countries do not live in abject, natural poverty, although many live in relative poverty, as measured by arbitrary government income standards. Why is that? Because most people apply some level of the productive human effort necessary to overcome their natural state of poverty.

The above statement is a denial of human effort. Why? because the statement implies that to be poor means to face a choice between parasitically living off of others or dieing. But if this were so, then the human race would have to be extinct! Since poverty is man's natural state, every human being faces the same choice—parasitically leach off of others or die. If that is the case, who will there be for the "poor" to parasitically live off of, since the poor is each and every one of us? So, if there is no one to leach off of, we're all dead; human extinction. 

Obviously that is not the case. What's missing from this scenario? Man's means of rising above poverty—productive human effort. 

Put that way, the correspondent would undoubtedly protest that he didn't mean to deny human effort. But then, what's left? A third choice that the correspondent's sarcasm blanks out from the poor person's alternatives; productive effort. Stripped of it's false implication, the statement implicitly (and insultingly) equates being "poor" with incompetence to overcome the natural state of poverty—to deal with life. The further implication is that, therefore, incompetence is an automatic claim on involuntary servitude of the competent. Leaving aside the otherwise competent few who are destitute because of circumstances beyond their control, the correspondent is basically upholding human vice as a justification for ObamaCare.

The political implications of the correspondent's statement is as follows: He is essentially saying to me, "You have it within your power to prevent poor people from dieing, because you have it within your power to pick other people's pockets, via support for some law like ObamaCare. If you oppose ObamaCare, you are simply letting poor people die." Statists always must resort to collectivist premises to rationalize their viewpoints, because to focus on consequences for individuals qua individuals is to expose the utter immorality of their viewpoints. No individual has the capacity to save all poor people, because no individual in a just society has access to everyone's wealth. The individual qua individual has only the capacity to deal with situations of need on a concrete, case-by-case basis, whether regarding a suffering individual or some charitable organization dealing in specific human needs—and then only with his own money.

More fundamentally, no individual has the moral obligation to save all poor people. The best and only moral thing government should do for the poor is to let people live free.

Obama's Collectivist "Togetherness" vs. Individualist Togetherness

Elizabeth Warren's Flawed Understanding of the Source of Worker Productivity

The Spiritual Parasitism of Senator Robert Menendez

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