Monday, November 16, 2009

Handouts (Jim Davies)

Should those of us who oppose the state accept their handouts? Jim Davies makes a compelling case that we should and not lose sleep over it:

Jim DaviesOne of the debates among liberty seekers is about the extent to which it's morally right to accept or reject government handouts. In my opinion, it's one of a rather small number of issues still open to valid debate, and for sure there are good, sincere people on both sides of it and I respect all of them. Although these remarks come down clearly on one side, that respect remains very much intact, for over some years my own mind has changed quite a lot. I've no wish to try to hurry anyone to change his without careful thought.

On the other hand, if anyone reading this is still wondering about the question, perhaps it will help him decide. Perhaps it will even stimulate other writers to enliven the debate by offering an opposing view.

I've seen nobody put the "reject them" viewpoint more eloquently than Carl Watner, and warmly recommend a read of his masterly book I Must Speak Out before coming down on either side of the debate. I can't do that viewpoint justice with words of my own, so do be sure to read it; his reasoning centers on the fact that before government can provide any benefit of any kind to any person, it must first steal at gunpoint from someone else the resources required, and so to accept the handout is to be complicit in that aggression. I cannot deny any of that; he's correct, and that's why there's an ethical debate. Even so, I now take the opposite view, and here present six reasons:

(1) To reject all government goodies is literally impossible; (2) to do so even partially is enormously costly; (3) it is wholly irrelevant to our main objective (to rid humanity of the monstrous scourge of government, which puts us in this moral dilemma in the first place); (4) it leaves money in the hands of a gang of thugs who will certainly use it to do harm; (5) it throws away a chance to recover stolen property; and (6) it allows government supporters to escape the consequences of their malfeasance.

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