Wednesday, November 14, 2007

She's Got a Point

Probably one of the best arguments against federal poverty based entitlement programs I've heard in a long while courtesy of Wendy McElroy

I'm all for helping the poor. I just think it should be private, and voluntary.

At this point I usually hear the objection, "But that's not enough! Small scale solutions like that will never solve the problem!"

Today it hit me: why the hell not?

To be more specific: the question should not be how do increase the scope of the (private) solution. It should be, why is the problem so damned big?

Let's face it: if you're living in a society in which anywhere from one-quarter to one-half of the population can't meet their basic needs through their own efforts -- where a half-trillion dollar enterprise is needed to "help the poor" -- then there is something fundamentally wrong with your society; and redistributing wealth, from those who have managed to succeed to those who have not, is avoiding the real problem. Whether the problem is the legions of overpaid bureaucratic parasites, the erosion of savings through inflation, confiscatory taxation, the countless costs of busybody legislation, or all of the above, you need to fix the underlying cause before you can ever really help people.

Put another way: if transfusing a few units of blood doesn't help the patient's condition, you'd better start looking for the bleeding....not look for more blood donors.

I have problems with such programs on a federal level mainly due to the rampant inefficiency of such programs. Similiar programs sponsored by states tend to waste less money (on average) but private charities regularly outperform both. For example the United Way manges to use 90% of its money for its programs. Thats anywhere from twenty to thirty percent more than similar federal programs. And frequently charities have a better turn around time than the federal government. Simply put I just want my money spent wisely and well.

h/t to Pagan Vigil