no third solution

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A Guy’s Gotta Eat

March 8th, 2010

In response to my recent post, Government Employees Are Overpaid, someone objected via e-mail, I believe to one of my statements in the comments section, “Most of them don’t know it, because they’ve never had an honest, reflective thought in their entire lives, but they’re all thieves” (to be fair, many n the “private” sector fit that bill in one way or another too, so I’m not trying to single anyone out).

I know government = bad, but you know a guys gotta eat.

“Yes” a guy’s gotta eat. And “Yes” I’d steal a loaf of bread to feed my starving family. I can rationalize it, but it’s still probably theft. Sure, it gets insanely complicated and quick-like, because now you can take some of Chartier’s points and start overlaying them: perhaps the people you’re “stealing” from are really thieves to begin with, and you’re just reclaiming what is rightfully yours. Perhaps they owe you that debt (I’m sure they do).

Now we look around and we can’t say with very much certainty, who is (or is not) a thief. And among the thieves, who is the most heinous, who is the real thief. Behavior like this isn’t natural; we’re the smartest goddamned species on the planet, and we’re perfectly well capable of taking care of our own. We shouldn’t have to grovel. How do we find ourselves here?

Ask instead why you find yourself in such a situation, where perhaps welfare is your only option, or if you’re lucky maybe a government job is your only or best option?

Gary Chartier has posted 11 points about poverty and the State; a list which I’d be hard-pressed to modify in any manner. I’m trying not to just regurgitate what Chartier says, but take a look at his top three – this is all great stuff and he gives a lot more detail, I just want to tee it up because it’s relevant:

  1. States don’t treat recipients of their aid well.
  2. States actively make and keep people poor.
  3. States raise the cost of being poor.

As my Public Finance prof used to advise, “People respond to incentives,” no matter how perverse they are. When the job market for your skills has been co-opted by some bastardized union, or when some government program crowds out private initiatives, where do you turn? what do you do? When that same government offers income, or food, or employment security (even after taking so much from you), most people take it. It’s instinctual, and for most people it jives with all the propaganda that they’ve swallowed their entire lives and they’ve been conditioned to accept it.

But this is what I mean when I say that government destroys community. It’s pitting us against our own. Everyone starts clamoring, in a sense, begging for what’s theirs.



  • Rights says on: March 10, 2010 at 5:07 am


    I have to say I disagree with you a little on this one. Even if you are starving, that does not make it okay to rob someone. Your hunger does not negate anyone else’s rights, or present a moral claim on someone in any way. “A guy’s gotta eat” is pretty much “my needs negate your rights.”

    Everyone has needs, everyone gets hungry, every “guy”‘s gotta eat. Everyone needs material values to survive, and you only have two options for gaining access to the values of others; voluntarily or by force.

    If you are starving and literally have nothing to offer or trade, you can ask for help, charity, handouts, an advance, credit, etc. but you cannot morally rob your neighbor and to sanction any law that does is still evil. So the argument from efficiency about welfare is unecessary from there.

  • David Z says on: March 10, 2010 at 9:09 am


    If you are talking about a free market, then I agree with you. But we’re not talking about a free market, so you can throw that argument out the window. Sorry.

    Give us work. If you do not give us work, then give us bread; if you do not give us either work or bread then we shall take bread.
    — Emma Goldman

  • Rights says on: March 10, 2010 at 11:52 pm


    I’m not following you… Why throw rights out the window because we live in a state-run world? It seems that that sentiment would amount to a reductio ad absurdum that no one has any rights at all, and anything goes for whoever can get away with it. I don’t agree.

    No one owes you work or bread, and the existence of the state doesn’t justify your taking it from me. Two wrongs make a right fallacy.

  • David Z says on: March 11, 2010 at 12:38 am


    i’m not saying rights go out the window, just that a lot of things that we currently look at under color of “rights” aren’t really rights in the first place. this goes for any state-granted or explicitly-state-supported privilege.

    that EG quote took a while to sink in for me, but it’s really quite simple. Just let it simmer for a little bit.

  • Don says on: March 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm


    @ Rights March, I’m not as subtle as David. You don’t live in a free market and thus are not privy to the enormous range of tools available to market yourself. You live in the state made cage and must play by a different set of rules.

    Back in 2004 I stole something and it will always bother me. Hurricane Charlie wiped out the infrastructure of SW Florida and the state further handicapped the populace. Our home, in a very rural area, had a well but there was no electricity to run the pump and we had been without water for 3 days in 90+ degree heat. Further, the police took over the local building centers, Lowes, Home Depot, etc. and were basically auctioning off access to those places. My brother loaned me his generator but in order to connect it to my well I needed 10′ of 30 amp wire and I could not get it at the home centers because of the police. A short distance from my house was a new house under construction so I went over there with wire cutters and removed, stole, 10′ of 30 amp wire, connected the generator and had a shower for the first time in 3 days.

    To the best of my knowledge that is the only thing I have ever stolen and the first time I have ever told anyone about it.

    If the state hadn’t taken over the market I would not have stolen that wire.

    This example is just a microcosm of how we are forced to live everyday so it is sort of unimaginable how we would live in a free market world but I do know everything would be better. You see, adding state thuggery to the whole thing is not a solution but rather a liability and as far as I’m concerned completely unnecessary, unwarranted and contemptible.

no third solution

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