Re: PHIL: The (im)moral state (was Re: welfare...)

Michael Lorrey (
Sun, 22 Mar 1998 14:28:48 -0500

Arjen Kamphuis wrote:

> At 11:35 19-03-98 -0800, Mark D. Fulwiler wrote:
> >The problem with these discussions is that there is a major
> >philosophical split on this list between those of us who think it is
> >immoral for the state to redistribute income by force and those who
> >think it is moral.
> I've been thinking a _lot_ about this since I joined this list last august
> and I'll try to explain my viewpoint as it is now. Philosophically speaking
> I can't justify forced income redistribution by a state (even a democratic
> one).

My, my, the heart titters.

> But:
> If the state can't redistribute income, the state can't exist, it needs
> resources to provide the kind of high-level services single individuals
> can't buy and most companies can't provide (see my example below).
> Redistributing income is much more than welfare, tax-funded security
> (police) is also a kind of income-redistribution, the rich paying for the
> security of the poor to some extend. So, if I'm not mistaken, you're saying
> that you want no governement whatsoever.

No government whatsoever is a good idea, but in the meantime, we need to try to
make the burden of government more efficient and businesslike, heavily downsizing
a hugely swollen workforce. However, you are wrong in considering normal business
functions of government as income redistribution. If the government buys a bomber
or builds a dike, I am receiving a service for the portion of my tax that pays
for those items, therefore, it is an acceptable business exchange.

If my tax money goes into the government coffers, then straight back out as a
cash disbursement to a high school dropout with a drug habit and three kids, that
is income redistribution, as I get no service or product in return for that part
of my taxes. This might not be so bad if the government did not deny the same
benefits to me in the event that I found myself in dire financial straights,
however, I have tried this in the past when I was unemployed and the government
always found a loophole to deny any benefits to me, a single, white, straight,
sober, able bodied male with no dependents.

Since I have found no hope of ever being eligible to collect on the 'unemployment
insurance' which is paid in my wages (if I were still a full time employee,
instead of a contractor as I am now), I have gone the contractor route, and I
should have the legal right to discount from my taxes that portion which pays for
benefits for which I have no hope of ever receiving, or for theose services,
products or benefits for which I choose not to receive.

Notice I mentioned CHOICE. Of course, if I lived in a flood plain, I would
obviously have to be asessed fees for the construction and maintenance of the
flood protection system, as merely an insurance policy, but conversely, I should
get a guarrantee of reimbursement for damages in the event that the flood
protection system fails. Currently the government only does this if the state
Governor asks the President to declare a disaster area. If you are not in a
declared area, then the government system doesn't owe you anything, which stinks.

Any government program which spends citizens moneys should be proven to be a
strict common good that cannot be avoided (like flood protection in a flood
plain), rather than either 'bread and circuses' to keep large special interest
groups at bay (read: the poverty stricken barbarians), or programs which would
force someone to pay for a program for which they do not, have not, and never
will enjoy any measurable benefit. Forcing someone on a mountaintop to pay for
flood insurance is insanity.

> OK.
> To this I can only say that AFAIKT absence of some kind of governing body leads
> to a very unconstructive chaos that makes it very hard for people to actually
> do what they're good at. Instead they are kept busy with personal security and
> ensuring all kinds of other basics that we can take for granted.

If you think that the government is responsible for protecting your personal
security, you are severely misinformed. Police are only there to catch the bad
guy AFTER he has robbed, raped or killed you, not to prevent it from happening.

That most people get through life totally ignoring their currently existing
responsibility to protect themselves is testament to the fact that there are
enough people out there who do that criminals are increasingly weary of commiting
crimes, given that the large decrease in crimes in the US in the past couple of
years is almost entirely found in states which have liberalized their
right-to-carry laws to the point that it is rather easy for law abiding citizens
to carry concealed weapons. New Hampshire, which has one of the highest per
capita gun populations in the entire world, has a lower crime rate than any
country its size or larger in europe.

> I'll be the first to aknowledge that states themselves have done some
> pretty bad things throughout history but I can also give some examples
> where people seem to be reasonably happy with their state. Democratic
> representation and a 'trias politica' seem to be the lesser evil (IMHO). I
> know of no example where stateless situations have lead to stable,
> high-tech, prosperous communities (but am willing to listen to interesting
> examples).

New Hampshire, which has open borders with three other US states (one of which
has one of the highest crime rates in the US, btw) and a reasonably open one with
Canada, has one of the lowest crime rates in the US, has the second lowest tax
burden per capita of any state in the US,(the US having the lowest per capita tax
burden in the industrialized world). It also has one of the top public
universities (UNH) and private universities (Dartmouth College) in the US. With
no active duty military bases (it has a well staffed National Guard and Air
National Guard). We have among the highest scholastic acheivement rates of any
state in the Union, have always had an average SAT score in the top 5 states
(concurrently with being among the lowest 5 states in terms of per capita
education expenditures, go figure). NH is rated as having one of the best
business climates in the US. My hometown, Lebanon, was rated two years ago as
being the 2nd most livable small town in the US (in our snooty neighboring town,
Hanover, where Dartmouth is located, people were noted as saying "we always knew
you were second best" ;) )

Best of all, we also have the lowest unemployment rate in the US, at less than

Our state legislature is one of the largest in the world, and they are all
volunteers. They are only paid gas money.

> Of course it can be argued that untill now the conditions have always been
> wrong for an anarcho-capitalistic society to succed but this is pretty much
> the same arguments that hard-line communists use when they defend their
> system: "No, no, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot weren't true communists, but when
> we take power things will be different." We've had a whole bunch of
> large-scale social experiments this century and almost everyone some form
> og genocide occured.

large scale social experiments have proven to not work. The key is small steps to
try out, one at a time to see if it works or not, and slowly enough that most
people won't notice (many US socialists in power positions now utilize this
practice, especially in the gun control arena).

> Structural changes to a complex system as society should be done gently and
> _very_ carefully. A system-crash can (and has) cost millions of lives.
> I'll try to give an example of problem I think only a state-like
> organisation can solve (it's a bit nationalistic but bear with me ;-).
> In 1953 a large part of Holland was flooded when a combination of
> high-tides and storm occured. The dike system protecting
> lower-than-sea-level land was breached and about 2000 people drowned. I
> response to this the Dutch governement implemented the Delta-plan. Over a
> perion of 33 years over a $10^12 was invested in upgrading all dike-systems so
> that an occurrance like the '53 flood could never occur again. The final
> construction was finished last year, two giant doors that can close a canal's
> opening into the sea.

> I've been trying to think how a commercial organisation could have achieved
> such a thing. Who would invest in such a project? Who would 'buy' the end
> product? I believe that only a state has the means and the organisation to pull
> something like that off.

I don't imagine that the Dutch Government was the contractor that did the work,
was it? Since most of your country is in a flood plain (partly man-made), it is
obvious that your country is essentially what is known as a "planned community".
Its a rather large one, granted, such that it has attained sovereign status as an
independent nation, but it, at its heart, is a planned community, much like
smaller 'gated communities' that are springing up all over the US here. Its
obvious that for one to become or remain a resident of such a community, the
developers of the community are right in imposing asessments on residents, for
the cost of maintaining the community, as well as the historical capital costs.

There is a similar planned community not far from my home here in NH. It is
called Eastman, and covers most of Grafton township, as well as parts of Enfield,
Canaan, Sunapee, and New London. A private company bought all of the property
back in the late 60's, built roads, water and sewer lines, electric and phone
lines, built a combined alpine and nordic ski area, olympic pool, 18 hole golf
course, and plotted out all of the lots. There are over 10,000 homes in this
development. Owners are assesed annual fees by the Corporation, in which they are
stockholders, for the maintenance of their property as well as for maintenance
and operation of the community facilities. People have a choice of whether or not
they wish to live in this community.

Conversely, hardly anyone on earth has the ability to choose what country to be a
citizen of, and those who would prefer to not support the unproductive elements
of society have no developed nation to which to emigrate to. Thus there is a
distinct lack of choice in the matter of permitting a libertarian to decide what
larger community to which they wish to be a member.

> Can anyone think of a scenario where companies would have made something like
> the Internet? (a free-to-use-for-all utility).

Outside of ARPAnet, the entire internet here in the US does happen to have been
built independently by corporations. It has the largest bandwidth and redundancy
of any part of the internet in the world. It also has the largest growth and
commercial business transactions being conducted of any nation. This was not done
with government money.

> I don't like the fact that a state is needed so that people can live
> together but for now I firmly believe it is the lesser evil.

Give every man and woman a pistol and the training to use it, and not only will
people live peacefully together, but they will be a lot more polite and freindly
about it. Gun use promotes the meme of self-reliance (which is of course the bane
of any socialist dogma).

   Michael Lorrey
------------------------------------------------------------ Inventor of the Lorrey Drive
MikeySoft: Graphic Design/Animation/Publishing/Engineering
How many fnords did you see before breakfast today?