Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More Cracks - Bigger Traps

It is increasingly looking like we are headed for 2-4 years of nightmare "redistributive" economics.

I wrote this as a response to a rather dear friend's comments in my wife's livejoural, but it's long enough, to be worth a post of it's own. So I'm pasting it here.

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My main point in my post on societies cracks is that Liberals and Conservatives really, really, DO NOT understand the way the other thinks. This is why when a conservative and a liberal argue it is like talking to a brick wall, their underling assumptions mean that they can't even agree upon what they are arguing about.

Government programs that are designed to help people ALWAYS, every time, no exception, make things worse. Yes they may help some people along the way, but the number one function of any bureaucratic organization is to perpetuate the organization.

Liberals need to accept the fact that they can't save/help everyone. Conservatives need to accept the fact that someone will always get a free ride. Only then can you truly start working towards solutions.

The government taxing you more in order to "spread the wealth" does actual, real, harm. It means that you have less money to spend at local businesses (which means fewer jobs), it means that you have less money for your retirement (which means fewer jobs down the road) ect.

If you want to help that single mother, help her. Bring her a lasagna to help her feed her family. Teach her a marketable skill so she can earn more money. Run a clothing drive so that she has an interview suit. Buy her a firearm (and a training class) so she can defend herself against her abusive ex-husband (not valid in California, Illinois, and New York).

But don't ever think that higher taxes are going to help her. Higher taxes just destroy jobs and rob folks of opportunity. You want to help people then actually HELP them.

The Red Cross, Salvation Army, and many other similar charitable organizations manage to take over 90% of their donations and get them to people in need. I can assure you that government programs are nowhere near as efficient. They are mostly efficient at employing government employees.

So that's the conundrum. How do you help those people who really could use a "hand up and not a hand-out"? Now, how do you do that without making things worse for everyone in line behind them?

I maintain that the way you help the most people is twofold.

First you accept the fact that "a rising tide lifts all boats". A tax structure that encourages large businesses to take their business out of the country, and penalizes small businesses for growing over 50 people, must as a point of fact increase unemployment and decrease opportunity.

Lowering the unemployment rate by a full percentage point clearly helps a lot more people out than any program (private or governmental) ever could.

Second you recognize that helping folks directly in your community, either through individual effort, or some group (religious or secular, private or incorperated), is THE most effective way of helping folks to realize the potential and opportunity.

Finally, you accept that there are just some folks who simply can't be helped, and there always will be. But you help more people my maximizing opertunity, than you do by punishing success.


catnip said...

I see your point. Really, I do. And I think we both agree that there are better ways that things could be. But to me, when someone says "conservative economics," I hear, "lack of environmental oversight," "poor benefits and working conditions," "anti-union" (the union David belongs to has gone to bat for us on things more than once and the NALC is a voluntary membership union), and all sorts of other things that are probably wrong, but still are part of my knee-jerk reaction. There are government programs that are reasonably efficient, the Postal Service is a good example. They can get a letter from Florida to California, in less than 3 days, often as quickly as overnight, for less than half a dollar, without a penny of tax money.

I also can't get past the layers of "social conservative" crap that gets tossed in with the economic stuff. I'm rabidly pro-choice, anti-faith based public education programs (though I will defend the right of a parent to choose a religious education for their child), against absurd "abstinence only sex-ed," pro-birth control, pro-gay/transgender rights, and for Gawdsake keep your religious convictions out of public policy.

I've got few complaints about Libertarian ideals, but I don't think I could ever bring myself to vote for a Republican.

Michael said...

Excellent job! You completely hit the nail on the head. Of course, one problem for me is that I'm so very idealistic about it. My wife talks about leveling the playing field for the discussion, and my response is, "The playing field cannot BE leveled because I am right and they are wrong!" I know that's a little pig-headed of me. I think that being of strong convictions is a strength, though.