no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Without a State, Who Will Help the Poor?

November 16th, 2007

There are people who wonder, “What will happen to the poor without the Government to support them?” For starters, this guy:

The Erie Community Foundation, in Pennsylvania, has received a pledge of $100-million from an anonymous donor.

But a more appropriate answer would be: Just about everyone. Drive down Main Street of any suburb during holiday season and watch as drivers roll down their windows at red lights to donate to the Knights of Columbus and the retarded children. Or to the local Salvation Army volunteers who pose as Santa Claus, ringing the bell outside your grocery store. Or to the local Fire Department when they host a pancake breakfast. For over a decade (perhaps longer) Big Boy restaurants in conjunction with the Boy Scouts, has coordinated a food-drive of undeniably epic proportions. I’m sure that wherever you live, there are dozens of charity-minded individuals and organizations just like these described above.

But some people insist that individuals aren’t giving enough. To them, the answer is clear: Government needs to give more. But the only way this can occur is if Government first takes more to begin with, from each and every one of us. Entirely neglecting to notice that Government is itself, (by crowding out private charity) the root cause of the need for more charity, increasingly, it begins to appear that Government intervention is the only viable solution. But this solution is fatally flawed.

What these advocates of intervention “see” is the government redistribution of incomes. What they don’t see is at least twofold: How that income would’ve otherwise been spent (the demand for goods and services creates opportunities for work) and how much more of that income would’ve otherwise been given to charities. One point that I never tire of repeating (OK, I do get kind of tired of it) is that by-and-large, people continue to give in spite of, and in addition to the onerous levels of taxation that many of them face. And virtually none of these people give any surplus charity to the government, although they certainly could. These people are facing aggregate tax rates approaching or exceeding 50% (sum of income taxes, sales taxes, sin taxes, property taxes, etc.) of their gross income, yet they still give to charity either through monetary donations or volunteering in-kind. Clearly, the evidence suggests that most people have a very strong sense of community and charity — yet we are led to believe that without government (to whom nobody voluntarily gives), donations to charity would simply dry up? The logic required to arrive at this conclusion is simply mind-boggling.

Would you stop giving to charity if you had more money to give?  Or would you give a little bit (or even a lot) more?    The bottom line is this: There are many, many people just like you, who express concern about the plight of the less fortunate. You and the Anonymous Millionaire Benefactors, are the answer.

From chaos, order emerges

May 20th, 2007

The annual Hoedown in Detroit brings all the mouth-breathing, buck-toothed confederate flag-waving hillbillies from Oxford and Romeo and god-knows-where-else into the City’s Hart Plaza for a weekend; and as refreshing as it is to see thousands of people milling about the city at night, in the dark (gasp!), these affairs are always clusterfucks of epic proportions. Yet it might not have been all bad were it not for the ordeal that was escaping the parking garage. It is difficult to describe the garage itself, which wasn’t the standard downard-spiral arrangement; there was also a ramp coming up, merging with one going down – while turning around the central pillars to merge with yet another line of cars on the way to the toll-booth.

We moved approximately one car’s length in 15 minutes. Frustrated at this, my friend Adam and I decided to jump out, walk down a little ways and see what the hold-up was. This is when we discovered the aforementioned clusterfuck. We stood there for probably another 15 minutes, watching the cars inch along at a snail’s pace – and then we decided to do something: the two of us began directing traffic, waving cars through one at a time, each direction and lane taking a turn. And all of a sudden, traffic started moving. Really, really moving. Almost everybody appreciated that some sort of order had emerged – some people offered Adam tips.

And I only encountered one asshole who decided not to play along. His girlfriend asked me what I was doing, and I said “trying to keep traffic moving,” to which she responded some hillbilly-shit like, “that ain’t how it works.” No, it wasn’t working before. Now, it is. You’re part of the problem. To this, I had to turn around and shrug in apology to the car they had cut off.

No constable, no sheriff, no master was present; none were necessary. People do not want bondage; they crave order, fairness and equity – and will most often abide by any societal arrangement appealing to these ideals. Even Magnus ver Magnusson could not have imposed his will on a single car or truck in that garage – order didn’t come from force or imposition, but from assent and cooperation.

We maintained some semblance of order for another 15 minutes or so, before Adam’s Oldsmobile came into sight and we jumped back in the car for the final straight-away to the toll-booth. What amazes me is not how easy it was to establish that order – anyone could have done it – but how exceedingly rare it is in the situations that warrant it.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics