Yesterday, as Fox’s Cashin’ in panel praised some states’ “common sense” requirement of work for food stamps (and ignored Juan Williams point about the tragedy of working people unable to support themselves without food stamps), regular panelist Jonathan Hoenig came out against all safety nets altogether.
HOENIG: Programs like this, you know, work for food stamps, work for welfare… I think they’re terrible. They inculcate these entitlement programs. They legitimize these entitlement programs, and the welfare state is fundamentally flawed, it is fundamentally broken. …If you can’t make enough money to eat, you have no right to other people’s money.”
While Hoenig spoke, host Eric Bolling gave a little smile and said, “Right.”
Panelist Michelle Fields, a Fox News conservative, disagreed. People sometimes “go through hard times,” she said. “However, it has become out of control.”
Even that was too much for Hoenig. “Then you have to provide for medical care as well, of course, and also education, for everything else that the welfare state entitles, no. …That whole notion that we have to help people, that is what justifies Medicare, Medicaid, that’s what justified welfare in the first place,” he complained.
Williams said, “Jonathan, I hope you think that children should not be allowed to starve in our streets. I hope that you think that people who get Medicare and Medicaid and that our veterans deserve some kind of entitlement safety net that Michelle’s talking about.
No, Hoenig didn’t think so. “I don’t agree about anyone besides our veterans, Juan,” Hoenig said. And while he was at it, Hoenig argued for getting rid of the minimum wage, too, because “you want to give people hope, not entitlements.”
Williams argued, “Yeah, but you want to make sure that you don’t have people starving on the streets.”
“Then you should help them, Juan,” Hoenig shot back.
Bolling smiled again and Fields chuckled.
That may be the most heartless thing I’ve ever heard.
I figured either one would be the ideal destination for libertarian whackjobs: Somalia has no recognized government and plenty of guns; on a desert island, Tom would never have to worry about caring for another soul other than himself, a la Tom Hanks in “Castaway”.
But, it occurred to me: we’d be paying for someone else’s livelihood, in effect, subsidizing them — which is what these libertarians are always screaming they’re hell-bent against (though, like Ayn Rand, I’m sure they’ll be MORE THAN HAPPY to accept gov’t assistance in the form of Medicare and Social Security when the time comes.)
Sorry, Tom — I guess you’ll have to earn that trip to Somalia or a remote island all on your own . . .
“To take just one example, compare the high-tech industry, which is relatively free with the heavily controlled and regulated industries such as education, health care, where costs are spiraling out of control.”
EXCUSE ME Tom — you ARE aware that the U.S. is the ONLY industrialized country in the world that DOES NOT have UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE, aren’t you? I’ll bet the house you’ve NEVER seen Michael Moore’s masterpiece movie “Sicko”, a POSITIVELY EYE-OPENING AND JAW-DROPPING EXPOSE of the UNRELENTING GREED AND PRICE-GOUGING that’s rampant in America’s health care system today. By any chance, you or close relatives wouldn’t happen to OWN STOCK in a major pharmaceutical company (Pfizer, Merck, Eli Lilly, Bristol Myers Squibb, etc.) or a major health insurer (Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare, Humana, etc.), would you? Remember: if you answer “That’s none of your damn business!” or something equivalent, THAT IS AN IMPLICIT ADMISSION THAT YOU DO!
“Of course individuals are self-made.”
Yeah Tom, SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURE THEY ARE.
And I’m Pope Francis I.
To take just one example, compare the high-tech industry, which is relatively free with the heavily controlled and regulated industries such as education, health care, where costs are spiraling out of control.
Profit is the result of creating value that others desire. This is a good thing. Freedom works.
Of course individuals are self-made. Look around, people are doing amazing things all the time by using their minds, directing their efforts and being creative, innovative and productive. Human achievement is a product of individuals using their own volition.
This, in no way, denies that individuals benefit from other individuals. We’ve got to get away from this idea that individualism means living in isolation and gaining no values from anyone. This is nonsense. Self-made, does not mean being “alone,” it means earning the values that one needs through trade and voluntary cooperation with other.
Individuals are a huge benefit to each other, but they are still individuals. The question is: what is the proper relationship among individuals? Should individuals interact voluntarily through trade and persuasion to mutual benefit, or as master and slave in the kind of pressure-group warfare we see today?
“Why not allow people to freely purchase fire protection and pay to use roads.”
Pardon me Tom: you DO realize those options are MUCH, MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE for us working class folks (including me — I’m not so sure about YOU) because unlike government, private firms and individuals CHARGE MUCH, MUCH MORE for their services because remember: THEY ARE IN BUSINESS TO MAXIMIZE THEIR PROFITS! For starters, just ask the residents of Indiana and Chicago, IL — they are now PAYING THROUGH THE NOSE BIG TIME to use some of their major highways and other daily necessities. Here’s an eye-opening and jaw-dropping article from The Hightower Lowdown that backs this up:
Here’s the real and only question. Do you wish to not be a member of this society? Do you wish to renounce your American citizenship and be a member of another society? Do you wish to live completely on your own and not be a part of any society? Please answer that honestly.
And let’s be clear about the history, which is not quite the version you seem to believe. Your notion of people not contributing to pay for public services doesn’t line up with any sense of reality – even in the days before democracies, taxes were levied. The difference in a democracy, as you need to research a bit more, is that we decide collectively what taxes we wish to levy, and how we wish to allocate the funds.
It’s interesting that your scenario has people just blithely paying for the services they feel like using and not paying for anything else. So you’ve inadvertently answered one of my earlier questions to you. You don’t want anyone to receive any public service that they don’t personally make a payment to cover. By that extension, you don’t seem to believe in the concept of public services or of public workers. Which means that you do in fact believe in going with the anarchic pre-societal notion that you’ve denied in other posts. You’re advocating for a situation where everything is privatized and the poor are left to languish. You’re completely abdicating any moral or societal responsibility.
To make this really simple – taxes aren’t a matter of morality, much as the libertarians would like to twist the narrative. Taxes are the manner in which an organized society collectively pays for public workers and services. Extreme libertarians, taking the position of “I got mine, heck with you”, will say that they don’t feel like paying for the services – and the answer is that the alternative is exactly the anarchy you were previously saying you didn’t want to see happen. You can’t have it both ways.
It’s also interesting that you’re now trying to twist this into a discussion about how much programs like Social Security make up of the federal budget. (And you should know that the size of the federal budget is not in a direct relation to those income taxes you’re saying you don’t feel like paying. Under GOP and Democrat presidents, we’ve been borrowing more than we’ve been taking in over the past several decades. This problem became huge under George W. Bush, who left President Obama with a mess that required even MORE debt to dig out from…) As you should know, entitlement programs are based on the amount of people they need to service. Social Security is a program that was designed to provide a safety net so that elderly people wouldn’t be in the situation we’d been seeing in this country throughout its history – namely that poorer people could never save for retirement and would be forced to either work until they dropped or wind up in even harsher condition than how they started. I take it that you’d rather see those people on the street – just like Hoenig has been advocating. For myself, I can’t go with that idea. We’ve learned as a society that this is an abhorrent concept. If you wish to go back to the debate over Social Security that happened in the 1930s, you’re welcome to read up on it. But the people who opposed its implementation were morally wrong then, and they’re morally wrong now. And that doesn’t even get into the matter of having a stable society that operates in an efficient manner.
“This means government must never act as a criminal by taking a man’s property away from him – no matter how many people want a piece of his wealth. It is his.”
Hey Tom: How about telling Donald Trump and Der Fuehrer II (i.e. George Dumbya Bush) that? In case you’ve forgotten, BOTH of these individuals got ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY FILTHY STINKING RICH by getting in on one of goverment’s BIGGEST RACKETS: the “right” to snatch property from others for a song — and mark my words Tom, this song WILL NEVER, EVER CRACK THE TOP 25! This racket (and yes, I DO know that it’s still legal today) is 100% SMOKING GUN PROOF of the following fact:
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NO SUCH THING AS A “SELF-MADE” INDIVIDUAL!
In other words Tom, ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NO ONE in America lives well or earns a living without PROTECTION AND EMPOWERMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT — this includes TAX WRITE-OFFS AND OTHER DEDUCTIONS. Here’s an article by the great George Lakoff that backs this up:
Here’s a final question for you Tom: just how many tax write-offs and other deductions are YOU planning to claim for tax year 2014? Keep this in mind: if you answer “That’s none of your damn business!” or something equivalent, THAT IS AN IMPLICIT ADMISSION THAT YOU ARE PLANNING TO CLAIM LOTS OF THEM!
I’ll ask the same questions as I did with rules (laws). Any time the government wants to take your money for any purpose and in any amount you just blindly nod and pay? Are you saying that there’s no moral issue involved a government forcibly taking money from citizens no matter what? I don’t see this could possibly be the case. All actions of government (and people) are moral issues.
Why do you focus on firefighters, police and roads, when the vast majority of taxes are for entitlement programs? Let’s talk about that. Is it not a moral issue whether I’m forced to pay for other people’s stuff and thus prevented from saving for my own retirement and healthcare in the way I choose? This is as much a moral issue as anything else.
Regarding firefighters and roads, why do you assume people must be forced to pay for these? Why not allow people to freely purchase fire protection and pay to use roads. If you don’t want to purchase these or want to purchase different services, you are free to do so. (This is the way it used to be before government monopolized these products.)
But those are matters of morality and truth. Paying your taxes is not a matter of morality, unless you’re saying that you feel entitled not to pay them. In which case, that would be a display of extreme immorality, as you would be asking the rest of us to pay for your firefighters, police, roads, etc.
And not everyone who fails to pay their taxes goes to jail. Most are simply fined.
Please remember that I cannot allow posts that talk of violence or wish for anyone’s death (as occurred way back in the beginning of this thread).
Now, back to your ongoing discussion…
The issue is what is morally right and morally wrong. I ask you again, do you think there is such a thing as a morally right rule and a morally wrong rule? Or do you think we should just blindly follow the rules no matter what they are?
This should not be that hard to grasp. If you wish to be a productive member of society, then you should be willing to contribute to it. If you’re unwilling to be a part of it, then it stands to reason that you may want to find a society that is more in keeping with your values. Or are you saying that you believe you can act as a constructive citizen, and do things other citizens do – like vote, participate, and yes, pay your taxes?
This is the issue you need to address, rather than pretending that I’m advocating for some kind of anarchist society where people can make up their own rules. I’ll say it again: I want a government with rules. But the rules have to be moral. That’s the issue.
You seem to be saying that anything that the majority wants they should have. Don’t you believe that there is such a think as morally right and morally wrong, independent of what the majority wants? If the majority wants slavery does that make it right? Not in my book.
I’m arguing that freedom is moral and the welfare state is immoral. If you don’t agree, you need to address this. Simply stating that the majority doesn’t agree with me is irrelevant.
I strongly recommend you find a place where your values are commonplace. There must somewhere in the world where everyone believes this. But here in America, the overwhelming majority believes in a society where everyone contributes. So long as you remain here, you’ll be faced with policies you cannot abide and taxes you don’t feel like paying.
I suppose you could refuse to pay your taxes and see where that gets you. Or like I said, you can find a country whose values meet your approval. I’m not saying that facetiously. I mean that if you don’t approve of this society and you don’t wish to follow its rules, it makes little sense why you would wish to remain here. Can you explain this contradiction?
But this is not just my preference. I’m saying that I, and every individual has a right to be free. I have an inalienable right to my life, which means that I shouldn’t have to move – I have a right to live where I want, the way I want (as long as I don’t violate other’s rights). This is not a popularity contest. If someone or some government violates my rights (i.e., uses force against me), they are morally wrong.
Where do I draw the line between proper and improper rules? Individual rights. The principle is that each person has a right to their own life, which means that no one has the moral right to initiate force against another. This is the basic moral principle that determines what rules are just and unjust. Rules against murder are valid because murder is a violation of an individual’s right. Rules forcing me to pay for someone elses’ health care are invalid because such rules violate my rights.
It’s not arbitrary. A society that adopts immoral rules is evil and invalid. A society where the rules protect rights is moral and valid.
There is no contradiction in discussing the roles of individuals in a larger society. Unless you are favoring an extreme libertarian model wherein you are essentially an island unto yourself. I asked you specific questions about this in my correction of your earlier post, and I’m still awaiting answers. Do you believe you should live in a society where everyone pays for their own firefighters, police, roads, etc? Do you believe there should be no taxes? And if you believe that, who do you think should pay public workers? Or do you believe there should be no public workers at all?
You seem not to comprehend the basic nature of how individuals exist within a larger society. In your version, the only society you’d want is one where you’re essentially on your own and the government doesn’t seem to fulfill any function other than make sure people leave you alone. If that’s truly your ambition, then I would strongly recommend you find a society that agrees with you. I’m sure you can locate one in Europe, South America or Africa that may suit your needs in this respect. It’s mystifying why you would continue to tolerate American society when you have such disdain for its principles.
Again, nobody is coercing you to stay here in a situation you clearly don’t wish to continue. You can choose at any time you like to step away from it. Or you can choose to minimize your tax burden by making charitable donations, as I do. But there’s nobody standing over your head physically coercing you to do anything. If you believe that you only approve of a society that allows you to do whatever you want (short of the rules you wish to observe), then you really don’t believe in society as a concept, do you?
And it’s interesting that in your conclusion, you start to list the rules you wish to observe and the ones you don’t. By even engaging in that quibbling, you’re acknowledging that you DO understand that societies govern themselves with various rules and strictures – which means your earlier argument that you don’t understand the concept of rules rather invalid.
One can’t say that individuals have a right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness and then claim that the government, the majority, “society” or whatever can take their life, liberty and property away from them in the name of fulfilling some “burden” of taxation or some mythical “social contract.”
Saying that people are part of a society or that there are things individuals must work together to achieve does not address the issue, either.
The issue is: what is a proper form of society? What should be the relationship among people? Are individuals cogs in the wheel of “society” with a “duty” to sacrifice for the “common good,” or is each individual sovereign? When people work together, should they do so voluntarily or by lobbying the government to force their will on a minority?
I’m arguing for freedom. A proper society is one where people deal with one another voluntarily. A society where no individual, group or majority can use force to get what they want from anyone else, and government’s only function is to protect each individual’s rights. This means government must never act as a criminal by taking a man’s property away from him – no matter how many people want a piece of his wealth. It is his. This is what freedom means.
Freedom means free of coercion (i.e. physical force). It means that no individual government or majority can vote a man’s life, liberty or property away from him.
Let’s be clear, the welfare state is the opposite of freedom – it is force. It doesn’t matter whether one person reaches into your wallet and takes your money or the majority votes it away from you. The result is the same: taking your property without your consent.
Attempting to obscure the coercive nature of the welfare state with euphemisms like “social contract” or the need to “follow the rules” doesn’t change the basic issue of freedom vs. coercion.
Rules that protect individual rights (like laws against murder) are proper, rules that violate rights (like Social Security) are improper.
“The question is: What do individuals need in order to produce the values (including food) that their survival depends on? The answer is: freedom. "
OK Tom, you ARE right — but you DO realize that YOU CANNOT HAVE FREEDOM IN AMERICA WITHOUT ACCEPTING THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF CITIZENSHIP, don’t you? Furthermore, you DO realize that one of the PRINCIPAL RESPONSIBILITIES of citizenship is PAYING YOUR FAIR SHARE OF THE TAX BURDEN, don’t you? Remember Tom: those individuals and big corporations who DO NOT pay taxes to the U.S. government or don’t pay their fair share are simply TURNING THEIR BACKS ON THEIR FELLOW AMERICANS AND FLIPPING THEM THE MIDDLE FINGER — by any chance, YOU wouldn’t happen to be one of those individuals, would you?
Now, regarding Hoenig’s position – he never stated anything about each individual having “a right to his own life”, nor did he discuss the government wanting to “force” anyone to “sacrifice for the sake of others”. That wasn’t his point at all. His point was that he didn’t want to see government programs providing assistance to anyone at all ever other than to needy veterans. Those were his words, as you can find in the video embedded on this page. What he was espousing was in far simpler terms than you’ve voiced here. He basically said “I don’t want to pay for that!”
In your support for his position, you’re using a lot of language to essentially justify his selfishness. It’s interesting that you note that each individual’s life belongs to that person. I would agree with you on that subject. Does this mean that you agree with me that women have the right to control what happens to their own bodies? Does this mean that you agree with me that people of all ethnicities and sexualities have the right to lead their lives with their partners in peace? When you say that each person “is not the property of others”, does this mean that you acknowledge the rights of the descendants of American slaves to seek reparations for what was done to their ancestors? Does this mean that you disavow the statements made by Phil Robertson and Cliven Bundy about the slaves’ quality of life?
But let’s get past the rhetoric about individuality and your thoughts about the “moral claim” of need. Nobody is suggesting that individuals should not be free to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In fact, we’ve been explaining that a society where people help each other is one where those rights will flourish. And in fact, the American society is one that has developed, in fits and starts, closer to one where more people do have a chance to live longer, happier and freer lives.
Of course, you’ve ignored the part where all the individuals you celebrate are part of a group called a society. It’s what happens when you have a group of people who agree to live together under common rules that everyone agrees to follow. We agree to mutually fund things like our teachers, our firefighters, our police, our army, etc. We agree to mutually fund things like our roads, our parks, etc. Because each of these free individuals lives within the larger group, and they all follow the same rules – which include doing things like following speed limits, behaving politely with each other, and, yes, paying their taxes.
It’s interesting that you’re repeating the incorrect and misleading terminology we already corrected from Scott – the notion that you’re being “forced” to pay taxes for things you do not want. As I noted before, this sends us to a scenario where everyone would individually choose each item their taxes would cover. And that’s a scenario of chaos – which is why we elect administrators and legislators to keep track of this stuff. We live in a representative democracy – which means that we elect people to do this work in our name – and that’s the way the country has operated from the beginning. If your position is that you don’t want to have a representative government, then I would ask you for the alternative. Would you like to see a situation where we had no government whatsoever and everyone just fended for themselves? Do you understand the societal and moral implications of advocating for such a situation?
You make the case that you don’t believe that poor people actually “need” help. You do this by using the word “alleged” and the words “social planning”, indicating you may be relying on some fairly extreme right wing anti-tax talking points to justify your wish not to pay your taxes. So let’s be honest here. This is not a matter of “alleged needs”. This is a matter of real needs, and of people who we as a society have agreed to help with a safety net ever since the presidency of FDR. It’s true that various right wingers have always opposed having such a safety net, but thankfully, that view has never prevailed. You say that you define “heartless” as being told to pay your taxes even though you don’t like everything your taxes cover – particularly the welfare of people not as fortunate as yourself. That’s a misnomer. Being heartless is to simply not care, to have no heart. And that’s a condition required to continually try to find a faux moral justification to talk yourself out of the social contract.
You make a comment that people who say things you disagree with “are not really interested in helping people”. That’s nonsense. I can attest for myself that I regularly donate to multiple charities, with the specific goal of helping as many people and animals as I can. So let’s dispense with that false dilemma. And let’s look at your assertion that you should have the right to “choose” whether you wish to pay your taxes. Let’s see if that works in terms of honoring your agreement to be a productive member of this society and not just an individual living off on their own somewhere. Obviously, it doesn’t. But you can in fact choose to not be part of this society, if you wish. There is, as we’ve stated, nothing stopping you from choosing to join a different society that does not offend you and does not ask you to contribute anything.
Your comment about “the hungry is almost purposely irrelevant. The words “the hungry” are not a description of a bunch of randomly hungry people. It’s a description of a group of people who are poor and have greater actual physical needs than they can manage on their own – whether that be for food, for shelter, for heat, for air, etc. Your statement about them indicates that you do not understand that many of these people are unable to take the actions you are suggesting in order to feed, shelter and clothe themselves. Some are burdened with more mouths to feed than they can afford – such as the single mother abandoned by her husband with all her kids. Some are no longer in a position to provide for themselves – such as the elderly man whose pension was wiped out when his employer went under, and whose children cannot afford to support him either. Some are not yet in a position to provide for themselves – such as the children of a poor household who are too young to hold a job and who I think we’d all agree should be in school. Your simplistic analysis ignores all these realities in search of a simple justification for you not wishing to do your part as a member of a productive society.
The question is: What do individuals need in order to produce the values (including food) that their survival depends on? The answer is: freedom.
So you would rather have individuals feed the hungry. And what if there aren’t enough of those individuals? What, the rest of the starving people should just go die?
I hope you’re true to your convictions and don’t use the police, firefighters, public libraries, roads, or anything else that’s publicly funded.
No, their real goal is to guilt-trip you into accepting the idea that you have no right to choose – that someone’s need is an automatic claim on your life, money and time, simply because they have a need. And any attempt to assert your right to choose when and if to help people is derided as “heartless.”
The fact is, any real concern for the well-being of individuals – any sense of compassion for fellow humans – must start with the recognition that each individual is sovereign over their own life, property and decisions.
You should know that your tone – one of extreme anger and vitriol – is exactly that of the far right wing people who fervently supported the policies of Presidents Nixon, Reagan and W. Bush. And it’s that tone that lines up directly with the counter protestors who used to scream “Love it or Leave it!” to activists that opposed those presidencies. The point of the right wingers at that time was that to oppose the GOP president of the moment was to commit treason. We even heard statements exactly along those lines during the W Bush presidency – don’t you remember Ari Fleischer warning Americans to “watch what they do, watch what they say”? If you wish to ignore that history, it’s your right. But I strongly recommend that you really think about these issues before posting another personal attack rather than a carefully reasoned argument.
Far from being heartless, this is the only view that respects the sovereignty of each individual to their own lives and pursuit of happiness.
Those who advocate using government force against innocent individuals in the name of satisfying the alleged needs of countless others treat people as chattel – as means to their ends. This utter disregard for the rights and freedoms of actual individuals in the name of “social planning” and “need” is what is truly heartless.