The Welfare State Contradiction

    I've noticed that people who defend the welfare state usually hold a very specific contradiction. It can essentially be boiled down to "A social safety net is an objective value, and everyone would benefit from it. People however, are too selfish to pay for a safety net voluntarily, so the State must force them to do so". It seems to me that this mentality is a left-over from feudal servitude - which would explain why it's more common in Europe and Latin America than the US.

    If someone values a thing over another, by definition, they do not need to be forced to make that exchange. If I prefer steak to pasta, one would only need to say "Do you want to exchange your pasta for steak?", and the exchange would take place. In fact, the more selfish I am, the more eager I'd be to make the exchange. There actually is a voluntary, individual version of a safety net - it's called insurance, and people buy it all the time.

    The problem is not that people are "too selfish to do what's best for them", but that a safety net is simply not a value to many. People don't want to pay for services they do not use, and those who use a safety net usually do not have the money to pay for its services. While helping someone you deem worthy is a great thing, to say that those with more money MUST help those with less is to say that you owe me part of your car, because it's not mine.

    The idea that "the rich owe the poor" only makes sense in a medieval context. A king takes his wealth from his serfs by force - because of that, serfs rightfully expected to get some of it back. A businessman makes money by creating value, and he does not force a single person to work for him - they do so voluntarily, if they believe it's a good exchange. Because of that, he is entitled to every single penny of his wealth, just like the poorest of unskilled labourers.

    The idea that "Man must be saved from himself" is also strangely similar to the Christian idea of the sinful nature of man. Our nature is not good or bad, it simply is - what can be good or bad are the choices we make. The fact that we are individual beings is just that - a fact. We cannot think, choose or act for one another. We can only choose whether we deal with them by trade or by force - and that is precisely the moral standard that the welfare state violates.

    Secular people need to identify, and rid themselves of these philosophic wisdom-teeth, unless they want to make the same mistakes mystics do - with the same dreadful results.

  -  February 4th, 2020