(L100) Income Redistribution

“Would it be moral to grade exams, so that all students get C’s? If not, is it moral for the state to redistribute incomes?”

It would be nothing less than immoral for a teacher to assign grades in accordance with equality, rather than true individual scores. The reason that giving every student a C (for example) would be wrong, is that every student did not earn a C. Some students earned a much higher grade, and are being punished (receiving negative sanctions) because of those who did not score as high as they did. Others however scored lower than a C, and are being rewarded (receiving positive sanctions) for doing worse than the other students. While obviously far from fair, this system cannot even be chalked up to being remotely positive as it rewards the underachievers and punishes the successors.

The only way to fairly award grades to students would be to grant them the exact grade that they earned. Each student, regardless of each others score’s, would have to reap the rewards or consequences of the grade that the results of their test’s warranted. (Now, yes, I do recognize the flaws in standardized testing, and I understand that many students fail not due to effort exerted, but because of the fact that they are being forced to learn in a way that they do not understand. In this example however, I am referring to an imaginary class of students, all of equal learning ability who have either scored higher or lower based upon the effort they put into studying and learning the test material. In short, this would mean that it would take every student the same amount of time to learn the same amount of information; thus, every student gets the grade that they worked for and can all be graded using the same scale.)

In both the academic and career worlds, people (should) get what they work for. I personally work my little butt off to earn an income that can support my needs, and to be stolen from is heartbreaking. Now, when I speak of being robbed, I am not talking about a masked purse-snatcher assaulting me on the street. No. I am speaking directly about your friendly neighborhood politician; I am talking about his superior, and the man in charge of him too. Every single hard working American is robbed at gunpoint on a daily basis, but does it hurt you the way the plain-sight bandit does? Would you cry the same, or file a report with the police the very same? Do you even notice?

More often than not, these questions are answered with a simple no. Sometimes however, these practices are even encouraged with phrases resembling, “I am just doing my part” or “it’s for the greater good”. So what exactly is the greater good and who is the authority on such? In my opinion, the greater good is to “love thy neighbor” and the overall authority is God. What I do know however is that funding the lives of lazy, alcoholic, drug using, and/or jobless adults and their offspring with stolen money is not the greater good. Welfare programs not only theoretically encourage mooching and joblessness, but have been proven to increase poverty levels throughout the United States. It also has been shown to destroy marriages, reduce the likelihood of a welfare child having a successful future, and increase mental health and home abuse issues.

Why should somebody be granted what another person earned at the threat of force and violence? Would God believe that this is the greater good? Did God say that “thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote”? Absolutely not. God said to help those around you, he said to be generous and love every man. I believe that there are people out there that do truly need help, but I do not believe that coercion and theft are the ways to help them! Allow people to keep that which is theirs; their income in full. Encourage one another to share, trade and lend a helping hand. Charity has changed hundreds of thousands of lives already, and I don’t believe that the power in giving is lost. We can make a difference, even as one person. We can reduce poverty, mental illness and spousal/child abuse. We can build communities that revolve around charitable action and helping rehabilitate people; but first, we must stand up against being forced to enable these things with our own weekly paychecks.

Theft is immoral whether you wear a business suit or a hoodie. It hurts the lives of people on both the receiving and the losing ends.

(L65) Swedish Prosperity & Fascism

1.) The standard claim about Sweden is that it shows that society can prosper without such a free market and with extensive government intervention. Based on the lesson and on your reading, what would be a good response to this claim?

Sweden’s prosperity was originally birthed from a free market capitalistic economy, as well as avoiding war (as best they could). There is no historical evidence, even as late at the 1950s, of great welfare funding, and Sweden’s Austrian economics standpoint lasted between the 19th and even the early 20th century. The economic strength and prosperity that resulted from these practices was eventually funneled into a welfare state. Between 1970 and 1989 taxes were raised and hand-outs were increased; Sweden’s place as the 4th richest industrialized country dropped to the 14th by 1993. Just as capitalism had built their country strong, the turn away from it had began to make their country weak economically; since then however, economic freedom has increased (and surpasses that of the United States greatly).

2.) What were the primary values of fascism?

The primary values of fascism basically hold that the rights of the individual are far surpassed by the “good of the Nation”. In the words of Mussolini, “everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing above the state.” Beside putting the state on a pedestal and pushing for political centralization, fascism also highly encourages nationalism and the glorification of the military.

(L45) The Welfare State

1.) What is the primary problem facing a policymaker who is trying to design a program to benefit people in unfortunate circumstances?

The biggest issue in creating a welfare-benefits program is the fact that it needs to be created in such a way that it is good enough to help people, but not so good that people never give up the help to support themselves (without welfare). This entails creating a target group; however people just outside of the guidelines of this target group are more likely to worsen their own situations, to place themselves within the guidelines in order to receive assistance. This means greater numbers of people are taking out, and less are paying in. Welfare benefits also create incentive for people within the guidelines (say, unemployed people) to stay within the guidelines, because rather than bettering their situations through work, they are handed a better situation. Even for those who originally have intentions of using welfare just to get them back on their feet again become comfortable in the situation they have been gifted. Overall, the rules of the program have encouraged those within the guidelines to stay there, and those outside of the guidelines, to get between them.

2.) In practice, what have been some of the outcomes — intended or unintended — of anti-poverty programs?

Throughout the growth of the welfare state, many disturbing side effects have been revealed. The largest of these realities being the fact that the welfare state does not actually decrease poverty! From 1967 to 1994, welfare spending quadrupled; poverty levels however, remained the same. It has also been discovered that poor people without government assistance are two and a half times more likely to escape poverty than those who are on welfare. It’s effects on family life have been absolutely devastating as well, and it has been linked to extremely high divorce rates. Children who come from families receiving government assistance typically have an IQ 20% lower than the average child coming from a non-welfare funded family. Welfare also has proven to impair young men’s earning abilities, cause behavioral and emotional issues in children three times greater than that of those without government assistance, and double the chances of a criminal future. Tax payer’s hard earned money is being drained into a system promoting broken families and lives of despair, all the while being framed as the greater good; is this something that you really want to be supporting?