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:
- States don’t treat recipients of their aid well.
- States actively make and keep people poor.
- 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.