RE: Didn't need no welfare state (Was: Re: news...)

From: Billy Brown (
Date: Wed Apr 19 2000 - 13:19:22 MDT wrote:
> In a message dated 4/19/2000 9:08:48 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
> writes:
> > Willing or not, if the alternative
> > is starvation the slackers will go out and work.
> This really naive. Again, 'things will sort themselves out".
> It's not the only alternative to starvation is it? Crime pays way better.

Crime only pays if you set things up so that it is easy to get away with
being a criminal. Making a life of crime less attractive than getting a job
is not hard at all. All you have to do is:

1) Don't try to legislate every aspect of human life. If the police aren't
swamped trying to enforce thousands of drug laws, vice laws, public-conduct
laws, and god only knows what else, that leaves a lot of resources to chase
the relatively small population of violent criminals.

2) Make the punishment for "stealing-a-living" crimes like burglary
significantly less pleasant than working a menial job. Personally I favor
replacing our current prison sentences with much shorter terms served in
strict solitary confinement without amenities (about 1 month of solitary per
year of current sentencing). Not only is this unpleasant enough to deter
people who are actually making a calculated decision, but it also saves lots
of money and avoids the problem of mixing prisoners (who then abuse each
other, trade criminal skills, and generally encourage each other to go on
being criminals when they get out).

If you follow these principles, it should be feasible to create a situation
in which petty criminals can expect to be caught and punished (in a manner
they really, really don't like) on a regular basis. If you can do that,
people who are merely lazy will quickly decide they'd rather work at K-Mart
than get locked up again. You'll still have a small population of chronic
criminals to deal with, but that's another issue entirely.

> Don't kid yourself that MacDonald's will suddenly be better stocked with
> uneducated unskilled able-bodied humans. (Someone, maybe you, pointed out
> that in the US anyone able-bodied can already get a job in janitorial or
> food there's an abundance of socially demeaning shitjobs at below poverty
> level wages.)

It is perfectly possible for a single adult to survive on one of these jobs,
even today. If you got rid of all the stupid laws that drive up the price of
living (rent controls, crop price supports, etc.) he might even be able to
afford a few luxuries (like TV, air conditioning, telephones, movies, eating
out, etc.).

But the real advantage for the individual of working (rather than being on
the dole) is that they aren't stuck in the same place forever. Look at the
careers of people who actually do this kind of work long-term, and you'll
find that they tend to work their way up to a better standard of living
eventually. There is a long ladder of unskilled and semi-skilled jobs,
stretching from < minimum wage scut work on up to $25,000/yr salaried junior
managers, that a worker can climb based on nothing but perseverance and a
little on-the-job training. Almost no one gets stuck at the very bottom for

Billy Brown

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