The Value of a Lost Cause

One objection that inevitably comes up is that people don’t want to give their money to support other people who are able to work or otherwise provide for themselves. We complain and scheme that we ought to have drug tests and work requirements for welfare recipients, but these kinds of actions are rarely instituted. There is a reason why the government makes it so easy to get on and stay on their dependency programs; it is because it is worth it for them for you to be dependent.

When a person who is able to work chooses to instead be dependent upon another entity, that person does not get the help for free. The old libertarian axiom that “there ain't no such thing as a free lunch” (TANSTAAFL) comes to mind. The state wouldn't be buying your lunch if it wasn't worth it to them to do so. As we are considering building a system of dependency, let’s also consider the actual value of a person who instead of forfeiting their political self-determination to the state forfeits it to nothing, or to an ideologically fractured network of charitable organizations incapable of organizing a unified political bureaucracy.

With the general idea I have presented here I think it is clear that a technology could be created to establish a decentralized system of transacting charitable giving that could be trusted by those involved and attractive to those in need of it, and that could successfully fracture any political dependency that resulted from the transactions. It would enable us to determine the principles by which we would like to see the poor cared for, without having to put those principles at risk to human administrators in executing the actual transactions.

I believe this to be a solid and accomplish-able idea. The technology exists, the premise seems to be sound, but as with any good idea, it is only as effective as its ability to be marketed. The obvious weakness of this idea is that it would require that people sacrificially give, on top of the taxes they are paying, in order to compete with a government that currently has the authority to actually print money in order to pay for the dependency they need from the poor. In 2012 the SNAP (food stamp) program alone cost the tax payers $47 billion dollars. So in order just to dislodge that dependency, this system would need to be able to come up with a similar amount. That would require almost 10 million donors to designate an average of $5000 a year. These numbers alone are staggering and we haven’t even talked about health care, housing, public schools, day care, and other entitlements currently being used by our government to create dependency and maintain power.

What does the poor’s dependency upon our government really cost though? Is it just the billions that would be required to duplicate the programs we currently have? Don’t forget that the programs we currently have in place also are the source of the political authority that the state uses to bailout banks, wage wars, and build bridges to nowhere. All of the sudden the billions needed to care for the poor is starting to seem like quite a bargain.

KEEP READING: A Safety Net for the Safety Net