Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Accepting welfare- wrong, right, or neither?

I may be on the verge of changing my mind and deciding I have been wrong.  For a long time.

At least on the subject of welfare.

The inconsistency of those who complain about people on welfare, while collecting their own types of welfare, has always annoyed me.  Plus, I would rather see idlers collecting welfare for doing nothing than see a reaver collecting his government paycheck- still welfare- for enforcing "laws" that cause actual harm.  So maybe I haven't been quite as opposed to welfare all along as some others have been.

I would probably qualify for a lot of welfare programs.  "Health care", food stamps, and whatever else that might be out there that doesn't require a history of government "service" to be eligible.  Funny, but I don't even know what welfare is offered.


Some people I have been discussing this with have actually made me question my belief that it would always be wrong for me to accept any sort of welfare. I am mostly recalling this train of thought just from my own remembrance of the points brought up and if I misquote what anyone actually said, I apologize.  I hope I get the gist right, anyway.

It started off with someone suggesting that a good way to topple the State is to bleed it dry, signing up for every handout you can get.  Claire Wolfe calls this type of person, when they are doing it for the cause of liberty, a "Cockapoo".  I have always been highly suspicious of the Cockapoo, suspecting that they simply want to justify getting handouts.  But if they do, that is their business- I just want them to be honest about it.

Then it was pointed out that Jim Davies has written that he believes it is OK to take the handouts.  Hmm. I really respect his opinions.

Yet, Carl Watner, whom I also respect, says it is not OK.  Back to square one.

One thing I worry about, were I to go this route, is developing a dependency on the handouts.  Would the harm I do to myself be greater than any "benefit" I could gain?

One person suggested to me that a way to avoid this dependency is to use the handouts (or the money "saved" by accepting the handouts) for investing.  I would think buying gold and silver, guns and ammo, and stocking up on food and survival supplies would be a good investment.  A nicer TV, not so much.  Then, if/when the handouts stop coming, you haven't become dependent on them, but have actually given yourself a tangible safety net.  Maybe so, anyway.

But are there drawbacks beyond dependency?

Even if I didn't succumb to dependency, would I be setting a bad example? Is this act truly the same thing as "recovering stolen property"?  My stolen property is long gone.  Probably none of it actually went to any welfare recipients, regardless of what "conservatives" say.  The money that goes to welfare payments and government paychecks is "created" out of thin air by the Federal Reserve or banks.  Is the act of accepting welfare, then, still "receiving stolen property", stolen from others instead of from my earlier self, as I have always thought of it?  I really don't know.

Another problem I see is "What would people think?"

Maybe I don't care about this as much as some people do, but I still don't want to destroy any good influence I may have had over the years.  Maybe I give myself too much credit there, but it's an uplifting delusion.  Would my going on welfare say to people "Hey, I now depend on the government for my very survival, so see how great and necessary The State is- even for me!".  Would I look like a hypocrite to the average statist around me?

Sure, getting the money could be viewed as simply compensating for the money and opportunity being stolen by government- just trying to balance the equation.  If not for the interference of government I am quite sure I would be more successful than I am.  True or not, it's what I believe without having any way of knowing for certain.  Does The State owe me for this act of economic wrong perpetrated upon me?  Or am I just looking for justification?

I truly am not sure what to think about this yet.  At this point it is just a mental exercise.  I dislike admitting I was wrong as much as anyone, but I hate being wrong and remaining wrong even more.  It would be just as bad as being right and changing my mind and becoming wrong.

So, what do you think?  Weigh in on the matter and tell me what I have missed.



  1. Here's the money quote, people.

    "I dislike admitting I was wrong as much as anyone, but I hate being wrong and remaining wrong even more. It would be just as bad as being right and changing my mind and becoming wrong."

    If this isn't how you view right and wrong, well, you're wrong.

  2. I think that it is important, when assessing right and wrong actions, to consider the motives and intent of that action. Of course, good intentions do not make harmful acts any less harmful, but acts that do harm persons or property that may be considered immoral by some standards can be mitigated by pure motives and good intent. Accepting, even seeking, retribution from robbers (e.g. taxing authorities) is one such circumstance. The next step in this progression would be a tactical decision to extract as much loot as possible from the state robbers with the intention of forcing them into financial ruin and insolvency.

    There are few non-violent methods available for toppling the state. I believe withdrawing your support is a good first step (e.g. don’t vote, pay as little in taxes as possible) and a sound defensive stance, but going on the offensive using economic warfare on a personal level is the logical next step. That is to extract as many resources from the state as is individually possible. Just as the apathetic voter is an unwitting ally of the anarchist, the welfare queen is of the same mode.

    Maintaining the goal of ending the state while accepting benefits from the state is fraught with psychological pitfalls; but so is storming the Bastille with a pitchfork. I prefer non-violent tactics and must consider this option.

  3. I have a correction above that is an important distinction. The not is key in this sentence: Of course, good intentions do not make harmful acts any less harmful, but acts that do not harm persons or property that may be considered immoral by some standards can be mitigated by pure motives and good intent.

    I do not see how to edit my previous post and apologize for the oversight.

  4. The money is stolen. There is no justice in making yourself party to the despoliation of innocents.

  5. I think I've been pretty clear on this over the years. I agree with the concept of taking money from the state if possible.

    I also think that the entire concept is, sadly, one of perception. We do not have a free-market economy, we have instead a regulation-based aristocracy that is often as dependent upon subsidy as it is on consumer demand.

    If your "job" is dependent upon subsidy-then how is it any different than a government "make work" job? It isn't.

    That means if you work in agriculture (including grocery...they profit from subsidized goods), automotive, transportation (including and especially rail, Randians), banking, finance, health-care, insurance, education, energy, or provide goods or services or buy from any of those industries-you have a welfare job.

    That can't be helped in a fascist state. It's the way it is. It is why fascism is so ugly-no one is free.

    Don't forget, the FED has for several years now been buying not only debt but EQUITY on the stock-market with its "quantitative easing"...meaning there is literally no way to participate in the economy without being on the dole to some extent.

    In the end, I think it simply is your decision. Don't base it on libertarian principles-because they are agnostic.

    That said, I will tell you that I'm told I qualify automatically for social security disability because of my arm and related issues-I've never taken it. Not out of some adherence to ideology, but because it would feel like giving up. It is damned tempting now and then, however.

    At any rate, you likely DON"T qualify for much-possibly food stamps-men usually don't, unless you have a magic "disability." Most direct individual "welfare", despite republican spittle, really is limited to single mothers and children. So it is something of a moot point.

  6. On the one hand, yes, the money is stolen.

    On the other hand, the bad guys aren't going to stop stealing the money just because you say "no, no, I don't want food, medical care, etc. if it's paid for with that money." In point of fact, overwhelming their system may be the more likely path to dismantling it than self-denial is.

    I agree with Mike's post, but most of all with his own reasons for not accepting "welfare."

    Back in the early 1990s, I got laid off of my long-time factory gig, the only really good part of which was decent medical insurance.

    I didn't lie around. I found a full-time job (first at a bookstore and then on a framing crew -- this was during the Branson, Missouri housing boom), and a part-time job (as a fry cook), and went to work as an independent contractor doing small construction jobs like building add-on decks and such.

    I was working about 90 hours a week to knock down the kind of money I had been making working 50-60 hours a week before (40 hours plus pretty much constant overtime). Oh, and I was still doing the Marine Corps reserve thing.

    The only bother was that insurance. I had a one-year-old daughter, and was concerned about what might happen if she fell ill.

    So, my wife and I went to visit the "welfare office" to see about getting Medicaid for her.

    The answer we got was that I should quit my part-time job and the solo work. If I did that, we'd get Medicaid for all of us and food stamps to boot.

    I walked the fuck out of there. Not so much on "taxation is theft and I don't want to be party to it" ideological grounds (I was not a self-identified libertarian yet), but because I found the notion "we'll only help you if you stop trying so hard to help yourself" spiritually offensive.

  7. None of us participated in the debacle that is the prison/welfare state. Well, not recently. Most of us started out "statist", saw the light as life wore on, then came to libertarianism (cut the "ism", please), then anarchy.

    The difference between "us" and "them" (who will be marching to the "polls" next month to support the beast that sucks them dry) is critical thinking. We see. We act. Where we can. Our objective, I think, should be to see where action is possible without self destruction.

    I caution against applying for "benefits" for patriotic reasons. In saying this I'm seeing anarchy as inverse patriotism -- evicting the beast from the land we love. And please notice I use "land", not "country" -- "free country" is an oxymoron.

    No matter how much "benefit" you can glean from the beast -- now matter how many of your circle of libertarian/anarchist forum friends you can convince to do likewise -- your inverse "contribution" will be miniscule.

    All anarchists in the USSA, each and every one taking the maximum "benefit", would probably not add up to more than the cost of one or two days of the white man's foreign wars ("actions" ha ha). Probably, truth-be-known, not even the cost of one drone missal.

    So I doubt my social "security", teachers and veterans pensions, amount to one molecule in the mist of government gargantuousness (my new word for the day).

    I can't "topple the state" by withdrawing funds that they stole from you, your family and friends. But I can survive in an environment I did not manufacture and do not support.

    There is a saying down at AA: To Thine Own Self Be True.

    Make no pacts with the white man for the purpose of acquiring a "benefit". But don't starve out of false pride.


  8. It is all a matter of how you look at it, literally. If you seek benefits from your masters in order to shirk responsibility for obtaining your own sustenance, then you have succumbed to the dark side; regardless of whether you receive benefits or not. This path will lead to self-destruction and it is not the act itself that damned you, it was your conscious decision to act as a parasite. If you seek benefits as compensation from robbers to address previous robberies, then you can maintain your integrity because you made a conscious decision to act as an avenger. If you add to this the purpose of undermining state solvency, individual integrity can be enhanced because you have decided to act as an anti-state revolutionary. The intellectual and spiritual discipline required for maintaining one’s integrity under these conditions is certainly difficult, but this is so for any way to fight the state. People who want to fool themselves will do so no matter what, but honorable people will do what they believe is right.

  9. I really appreciate all the consideration on this matter.

    No, things have not gotten worse, economically, for me recently. This was all precipitated by a discussion about this previous Liberty Lines column, not by any looming disaster (beyond what is normal for me).

  10. Oh, and keep discussing it if you have more to contribute, or just want to express yourself.

  11. Some comments were only posted on facebook, so go read them, too: link

  12. any way to get facebook comments exported to here?
    many folks do not participate in facebook. and dhs says not being on facebook is an indicator of the domestic terrorist profile (we need to overwhelm that system too)

  13. Not that I know of. I did request that people post their comments on the blog rather than on Facebook... but you know how that goes.

  14. Kent, I read your article and all of the responses. It broadened my perspective as well. It's not such a simple cut and dried issues as almost everyone thinks it is. But in every case I emphasize this: libertarians must always put the blame on government, not on each other. It's their coercion that drives the entire issue.

  15. Garry- I would say it isn't even the government that deserves the blame- it is only theft and coercion. Anyone who uses theft and coercion is deserving of blame- and more. Regardless of what justification they blindly grope for.

    The theft and coercion is why government deserves the blame.

    If a government could exist without ever relying on theft and coercion I would have no issue with it- but then it wouldn't be a government, would it.

  16. I haven't time to read all the comments closely, but IMO you're making it too tough Kent. The ultimate decision should rest NOT on what anyone thinks, or even how it affects other people, but rather whether it makes you be the person you want to be, or not. THAT'S what you will live with, no matter what justifications you use.

  17. Of course, what people think and how your actions affect others can figure in to making yourself the person you want to be, or not.

    I'm still agnostic on the issue. I see really good arguments on both sides. So, I guess I'm not going to throw stones at anyone over this anymore- at least until or unless I finally come down on one side or the other.

  18. "Of course, what people think and how your actions affect others can figure in to making yourself the person you want to be, or not."

    Anything can figure into it...whatever you choose to figure into it, figures into it.

    There are two parts to this story. When dealing with other people, of course it's necessary to understand their value systems and how they wish to live. This is basic in business---you can't sell something to someone, unless they want it. Plus, there's the issue of just plain civility...no need to be rude to others or bang 'em up when they're in the way.

    HOWEVER, it is a serious mistake IMO to determine who YOU want to be, based on what others expect or even want. This is ESPECIALLY so in these times, since so many people WANT you to be a bad person in so many respects.

    In the end, every person is whomever they want to be, for whatever reasons they choose. And each person lives with whatever choices he or she makes. THAT'S the reason it's important to make the right decisions.

    I'm not saying anything deep or complex. If it were proper to be what others want you to be, then we should all become communists now. But I ain't doin' that, period. Others can cage me or kill me, but they can't BE me, and THAT'S the way I'm going to be. I was just trying to explain WHY I'm going to be that way...because the highest value in my life is being the best person I can be. While I'll happily consider what others tell me is the best way to be the best person, in the end it's EXCLUSIVELY my choice, my decision and my responsibility.

    The Axiom: "I own myself." And so it is for each person alive.

  19. Good cannot be accomplished through evil actions.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I’ve too often heard the argument that you can’t get “your money” back by accepting SS or Medicare because “your money” is long gone. The government already gave “your money” to older people to pay THEIR SS and Medicare. But the same thing happens if you put “your money” into a bank. When you go to draw it out does the bank tell you, “Oh, no, your money is long gone. We already gave your money to someone else as a loan.”

      The fact is that “your money” goes into one big bookkeeping government pot and into one big bookkeeping bank pot. You get monthly statements from your bank telling how much of “your money” they have. When you approach retirement age you get statements from the government showing every dollar of “your money” that they deducted from your paychecks for SS and Medicare during your entire working life.

      The only difference between the two is that “your money” went to the government involuntarily while “your money” went to the bank voluntarily.

      Your money is your money no matter how many word games some people try to play with the concept. No, you will never get the same exact FRNs with the same exact serial numbers back even from a friend you loaned it to, but you will get EQUIVALENT money back which will then become “your money” again. (If your friend says he can’t pay you back because “your money” is “long gone” he’s no friend.)

      So never let anyone sucker you into the “your money is long gone” deception. They are no friend of yours either.

    2. An excellent observation!