Friday, December 15, 1995

Part 4: Government - Prohibited Activites

(this is the text of a letter I wrote in December of 1995 but never finished.)

 This letter will begin the discusion of things governments should not be involved in by covering the topic of welfare.  Welfare is used in a broad sense to include government providing money, food, shelter, health care, or retirment programs to the citezens.  There are moral and practical asspects to this issue. I will start by explaing the moral reasons why government should not provide welfare and then cover the practical reasons.


 Ezra Taft Benson affirms that the proper role of government excludes socaial programs with this statment:

  No one has the authority to grant such power as welfare programs, schemes for redistributing the wealth, and activities which coerce people into acting in accordance with a prescribed code of social planning.  There is one simple test.  Do I as an individual have a right to use force upon my neighbor to accomplish this goal?  If I do have such a right, then I may delegate that power to my government to exercise on my behalf.  If I do not have that right as an individual, then I cannot delegate it to government, and I cannot ask my government to perform the act for me.  To be sure, there are times when this principle of the proper role of government is most annoying and inconvenient.  If I could only force the ignorant to provide for themselves, or the selfish to be generous with their wealth! (An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 135.)
 Forcing people to be charitable is not possible.  When people are forced to perform charitable acts they are not really being charitable.

 We have lived with a system where government provides so much for the poor that it is easy to assume that government is the only institution that can help these people.  This is not true.  Most people have compasion for those in need, but now they think they don't need to do anything, because the government is taking care of all the problems.  We must not lose our compasion and begin to think that only legislators and burecrats are able to help the poor.  Helping needy people should be left to individuals and voluntary orginiations.  I beleive the private sector can and will take care of peoples needs!

 David Bergland sumarized the moral argument this way: "If you see someone you thing needs help, you have three basic options.  You can do the helping yourself;  you can work to persuade others to help; or you can force others to help.  ...[T]he first two options are morally commendable.  The third is morally reprehensible." (Libertarianism in One Lesson, p. 70.)


 Government does not and cannot take care of peoples needs effectively.

 When government provides the basic needs of life, many people will choose not to work.  Especially people that do not have the ability to make significantly more than government provides.  For example an individual earning $5 per hours working 40 hours per week earns $200 dollars.  Then the federal government will take $7.50 for social security leaving $192.50.  If government welfare will provide a life style that is equivalent to $120 per week, the difference between working and not working is only $72.50.  This means the effective hourly wage is only $1.81/hour.

 Government programs are run by written rules and regulations that leave very little room for judgment. To recive welfare requires filling out forms.  If you meet the requirments, then you become "entitled" to receive benefits.  No government employee "knows" the recipient personaly.

 The government employyes that hand out welfare are not spending their own money, so they are not concerned with limiting the amount spent.  They may actualy want to increase the amount spent because then their jobs become more important.

 Through social security goverment has attempted to create a program to provide for the needs of retired people.  This program takes money from current workers and gives it to current retirees.  Any money that is collected in excess of current needs is spent on other government programs.  No money is saved.  This program is like a pyramid scam, where the people that get in early benefit at the expense of those that get in later.  It its present form it cannot survive and may leave many people unprepared for retierment.