• NOS4A2
    3.5k
    I used to believe a welfare state was the mark of a compassionate citizenry. But now I’m not so sure, because why would a government need to assume responsibility for the welfare of the public if the public never eschewed that responsibility in the first place?

    I’m not too cynical to conceive of a citizenry that takes care of its own. I believe that we should care for our poor and destitute, provide housing, healthcare, and education, not as a government policy, but as a duty to one another as human beings. In other words, the responsibility of welfare need not be handed to the state when individuals, families and communities provide welfare to one another.

    But I grow cynical whenever I hear politicians advocating for the welfare state, especially under the guise of compassion. Paying more taxes and advocating for more government services seems to me to be the very least one can do for his fellow man.

    I also find it pernicious that we now have generations of human beings coddled within this cradle-to-grave, centralized approach to welfare. I assume the diffusion of responsibility, the unwillingness to intervene and help another, a sort of bystander effect, increases if we know there are government services available. While we eschew the responsibility of welfare to the government as a matter of habit, at the same time we continually absolve ourselves from the guilt of not providing welfare ourselves.

    Thoughts?
  • Baden
    10.7k
    Thoughts?NOS4A2

    Unless you can demonstrate that in welfare states people are less helpful etc towards each other than under other forms of governance, you have no basis for your assumptions / presumptions. You'd also have to find a way to show that people would spontaneously do the work of government welfare when it's not available. Without data, stats etc., you have precisely nothing but implausible (and ideologically loaded) speculation.
  • jajsfaye
    26
    I don't see the clear distinction of a welfare state where the citizens eschew responsibility for the welfare of the public. Generally, governments that don't answer to the citizens are not interesting in caring for the people. If a government does implement welfare programs, it is almost certainly done under the influence of its citizens. Therefore, the welfare state is basically a mechanism for which the people choose to use.

    The difference seems to be that a welfare state is a system that requires the citizens to participate in the welfare of others versus leave it to individual people to decide for themselves if and how they participate, which suggests a lack of responsibility upon the citizens in the case of a non-welfare state.

    One can debate about how efficient government welfare programs operate, but that is an orthogonal argument to whether to have them or not. If there is a will, then the programs can be made to operate efficiently.

    One can also debate how efficient it is for individuals to act independently for the welfare of others. Care will likely go only to those that get noticed, while leaving others forgotten. Scammers, and people who are better able to market themselves will likely get abundant care while the forgotten others fall through the cracks. Also, there will likely be more feast and famine cycles (e.g. homeless shelters and food banks buried in volunteers over the Thanksgiving holiday season but struggling other times of the year).

    You mentioned the argument that if the people expect the government to take care of the welfare of people, that they won't care to do anything themselves. There are also counter examples, such as the homeless kids in our streets. Many of these kids ran away from home to escape sexual abuse and other horribly abusive situations. We generally understand that our government won't come scooping them up to safety, yet rarely do any of us inconvenience ourselves the slights to help them. In general, homeless people are seen as a nuisance.

    From what I observe, I believe that, generally, a person's willingness to step up and do something for the welfare of others correlates to a multiple of how convenient it is and how much credit they get for it. If it is inconvenient, they will look away and hope someone else does something. If they will not be recognized for their contribution, they will be even less likely to inconvenience themselves over it.

    When they come up with "happiness" metrics, rating the countries in the world on happiness, it is always the more welfare like states (e.g. Norway, Finland) that come out on top. Counties of which the state does less for the welfare of its citizens score lower. That would be a strong suggestion that welfare states generally do a better job than those that leave it to the good nature of their citizens.
  • Janus
    9k
    It would be hard to definitely demonstrate, but I think it is arguable that our present age of consumerism, entertainment media and mortgage slavery coupled with the decline of the extended family makes people so much more busy and self-centered, such as to be unwilling to care for aging parents/ relatives.

    Up until now all this has been the outcome of rising general economic prosperity, and it is only that prosperity that makes, or has made, the welfare state economically possible. I think this is now on the way to changing due to declining real economic growth, which is being covered up by the "smoke and mirrors" of burgeoning credit.
  • Valentinus
    791
    As someone trying to navigate these problems in real time, the question is perfectly absurd.
    The different systems set up to help in this regard are not solutions of the sort one can rely upon but are beneficial or not to particular situations.
    The idea that some system has arrived to replace the idea of care is cruel and even funny too.
  • Isaac
    2.5k
    why would a government need to assume responsibility for the welfare of the public if the public never eschewed that responsibility in the first place?NOS4A2

    A natural state of affairs is one where nothing is owned, and there are no rules. The moment people get together to impose rules on others they are fabricating a system. Once that's done you can't say some of it is undermining a natural duty as human beings, whilst leaving other bits, equally not part of any natural duty, in place.

    What is 'natural' about the government providing police to protect someone's property from, for example, The Diggers? If the government are going to intervene in that way, defend the theft of property from common ownership, it's no less a duty for them to then compensate the people they have thus dispossessed.
  • Echarmion
    1.4k
    I believe that we should care for our poor and destitute, provide housing, healthcare, and education, not as a government policy, but as a duty to one another as human beings.NOS4A2

    What if we discharge our duties to one another as human beings by instituting certain government policies?
  • Pantagruel
    892
    Isn't the welfare state an expression of our mutual obligations?

    Mill believes that obligations of 'perfect justice' create duties which give rise to 'corresponding rights in assignable persons'. Seems a reasonable characterization.
  • Judaka
    615

    What's this 'we" but a disconnected number of individuals, we require an organisation or the government to effectively and fairly distribute aid to those who need it. We are still expected and sometimes required to play a part in helping others when they need it in all kinds of situations from providing medical assistance to strangers, to financial support for family members and so on. Is this not so?
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    To a limited degree I’d say it does - but over all the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

    The problem is the means of pressuring the government to provide welfare. I do think there is always going to be a delusional portion of the public who believe shouting and screaming always does more good than actually helping those in need in a more direct manner (I believe there are no many of these kinds of people though so it’s not a big issue).

    So, generally, it’s not a significant problem as far as I’m concerned. I’d be against reducing welfare as it is a very efficient way of pooling resources and hitting social problems with a broader view off the intricacies involved: and bring technical knowledge and knowhow to bear on the problem in a manner the general public cannot.

    Very often, like with many green issues, the amount of resources wasted by the public is a terrible thing. What looks on the surface to be an efficient means of dealing with a problem does little, nothing, or even acts as a detriment to the cause - basically a lot of good will can be ill-conceived (let’s just press, and encourage, the authorities with the abilities and knowhow to improve their approaches).
  • tim wood
    4.7k
    In the US, our document of government starts with, "We the People."

    The whole paragraph: "We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

    I think herein can be found at least in general form the answers to all objections (in the US) to government support for those unable to support themselves. And what is missed here can be got from "The Tale of Two Cities."

    Unemployment insurance provides an example of some of the thinking involved. In the US, employers pay a sum based in part on their own experience for unemployment insurance to be paid to their employees who become unemployed, the cause of separation almost irrelevant. But if the fellow isn't working, why should he be paid? Because the larger community decided that all things considered, there were better outcomes from supporting for a while people while they got back on their feet, than to ruin them and by extension harm those they're connected to.

    So it's not really a question of if, but instead how, and how much and for how long (and to what end for what purpose). All these last are open questions. To my way of thinking, anyone who objects to someone receiving benefits should be prepared themselves to provide meaningful employment for that someone. Lacking in that ability, there should be recognition that the problems of the welfare state will not simple wither, dry up, and blow away when just any knee-jerk reaction is presented.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.8k
    used to believe a welfare state was the mark of a compassionate citizenry. But now I’m not so sure, because why would a government need to assume responsibility for the welfare of the public if the public never eschewed that responsibility in the first place?NOS4A2

    "The public" has never taken on the responsibility of general welfare. Whatever has been done (and for long stretches of time it would be "not much) has been done by the Church, by private institutions (such as orphanages, hospitals, etc), or the government. Institutions can bring to bear donations, private wealth, or taxes. Individuals normally have neither the resources nor the information available to improve strangers' quality of life. Pool resources in the collection plate or tax coffer and enough is available to make a larger difference.

    The need for welfare assistance has grown because the population of indigent persons has increased; the complexity of indigent problems increase with the use of drugs and excessive alcohol; the economy which produces great wealth also produces more poverty. Further, built in prejudices have deprived some sectors of the population (blacks, for example) from acquiring the financial stability that many people have obtained.

    A rule? Maybe: The government will normally not exceed the generosity of the public. Stingy people elect stingy representatives who pass stingy policies. Generous people elect generous representatives who pass generous policies. That's why benefits tend to be higher in the NE and northern Midwest than in the SE and the SW. People in the NE and Midwest believe in higher levels of collective generosity. People in the SE and SW do not. This principle is also why people in the NE and Midwest tend to be better educated, healthier, and live longer than people in the SE and the SW.
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    All humans have empathy and so will, generally speaking, in a crisis support each other - earthquakes, wars (citizens), fires etc.,. Because life is usually about our self and out immediate group (family, friends etc.,.) from day-to-day we don’t often go out of our way to help each other beyond such social circles. When bombs drop, or buildings burn down, then we can, and do, offer a helping hand. The issue is we’re not doing this everyday - it’s impractical - so it makes sense that institutions focus on these things.

    The worry is then how institutions are held to account - the public must press them and pressure them. Corruption preys on the weak and vulnerable. A helping hand can quickly turn into an oppressive hand without any obvious transition from one to the other visible (from out or from within).

    All systems are pretty much messy, riddled with faults and occasionally counter-productive for the given cause. Small improvements and adjustments are generally better than complete overhauls - for obvious reasons.
  • iolo
    227
    We know perfectly well why Victorian people said 'as cold as charity'. We also know why Jesus said, 'The poor you have always with you'. Charity is about the bad conscience of the rich, and it does nothing to deal with anyone's problems: What's needed is a simple acceptance of human needs and an acceptance of the human right to have these met - which means not a capitalist welfare state but socialism.
  • NOS4A2
    3.5k


    Here is a list of states, both past and current, that claim socialism in their constitutions. Which of these in particular would you says has the accepted the human need as a human right?

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states
  • iolo
    227
    Here is a list of states, both past and current, that claim socialism in their constitutions. Which of these in particular would you says has the accepted the human need as a human right?NOS4A2

    How many capitalist states that claim Christianity have ever shown the slightest sign of having heard anything that Jesus said? Capitalist states claim all sorts of things, but all they actually do is rob the mugs, surely? A capitalist government is the central committee of the local boss class.
  • NOS4A2
    3.5k


    How many capitalist states that claim Christianity have ever shown the slightest sign of having heard anything that Jesus said? Capitalist states claim all sorts of things, but all they actually do is rob the mugs, surely? A capitalist government is the central committee of the local boss class.

    Look at Korea. The south developed with capitalism, while the north developed with socialism. One is prosperous, the other is impoverished and despotic. The same in west and east Germany. It’s really as simple as that.
  • iolo
    227
    Look at Korea. The south developed with capitalism, while the north developed with socialism. One is prosperous, the other is impoverished and despotic. The same in west and east Germany. It’s really as simple as that.NOS4A2

    One developed monopoly capitalism under a dictator, the other state capitalism under a dictator. It was the war with the centre of world capitalism that impoverished the state capitalist bit, obviously. You take labels too seriously, don't you?
  • NOS4A2
    3.5k


    One developed monopoly capitalism under a dictator, the other state capitalism under a dictator. It was the war with the centre of world capitalism that impoverished the state capitalist bit, obviously. You take labels too seriously, don't you?

    Right, the worst excesses of socialism was really capitalism. Even if they never quite reached “true socialism”, they did it in its name, and here are the results.
  • iolo
    227
    Right, the worst excesses of socialism was really capitalism. Even if they never quite reached “true socialism”, they did it in its name, and here are the results.NOS4A2

    Socialism is control by the working class. Where does this happen, please? Where it has been attempted the capitalists murder people in very large numbers.
  • NOS4A2
    3.5k


    Socialism is control by the working class. Where does this happen, please? Where it has been attempted the capitalists murder people in very large numbers.

    It doesn’t happen. It’s statism all the way down. Socialism is merely the siren song of despots.
  • uncanni
    338
    While we eschew the responsibility of welfare to the government as a matter of habit, at the same time we continually absolve ourselves from the guilt of not providing welfare ourselves.NOS4A2

    That may have been possible in smaller communities in previous historical circumstances, but it does not seem possible now. I can't possibly imagine what kind of a set-up you imagine, if you'd care to clarify how your idea would work.

    52% of those who benefit from these govt.-run programs are white, and yet white folks love to blame black folks for the welfare state. Racism continues to be a huge part of the problem, with all of its poisonous effects, including the prison industrial system and the organizational and structural racism that pervades the justice system and law enforcement. That's more than just the tip of the iceberg of why this country's so fked up.
  • NOS4A2
    3.5k


    That may have been possible in smaller communities in previous historical circumstances, but it does not seem possible now. I can't possibly imagine what kind of a set-up you imagine, if you'd care to clarify how your idea would work.

    52% of those who benefit from these govt.-run programs are white, and yet white folks love to blame black folks for the welfare state. Racism continues to be a huge part of the problem, with all of its poisonous effects, including the prison industrial system and the organizational and structural racism that pervades the justice system and law enforcement. That's more than just the tip of the iceberg of why this country's so fked up.

    As I intimated, the set-up I would imagine is a moral society where we help one another on our own accord, with no need for a statist safety net. This is utopian claptrap, I do admit, but I no less think it is possible.

    Who exactly blames black folks for the welfare state? I think the welfare state was largely conceived in Europe.
  • uncanni
    338
    Who exactly blames black folks for the welfare state?NOS4A2

    Speaking of the United States specifically:

    By asking that question, you invite me to conclude that you don't have any conversation for the folks who put Trump in office. Where I live, I do. Racists, who constitute the majority of white citizens of the usa, always blame black folks for the welfare state. And probably everything else. I think the state is also run by racists; racism is built right into the system. These are the folks who called Michelle Obama a gorilla and who seethed for 8 years while Obama was in office.

    This is enlightening:
    https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2018/06/08/616684259/why-more-white-americans-are-opposing-government-welfare-programs
  • NOS4A2
    3.5k


    Speaking of the United States specifically:

    By asking that question, you invite me to conclude that you don't have any conversation for the folks who put Trump in office. Where I live, I do. Racists, who constitute the majority of white citizens of the usa, always blame black folks for the welfare state. And probably everything else. I think the state is also run by racists; racism is built right into the system. These are the folks who called Michelle Obama a gorilla and who seethed for 8 years while Obama was in office.

    I no longer live in the United States.

    I’m just curious, who blames black folks for the welfare state? Any quotes, or...
  • uncanni
    338
    I no longer live in the United States.
    I’m just curious, who blames black folks for the welfare state? Any quotes, or...
    NOS4A2

    Lucky you! This is a very good article on these issues:
    https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2018/06/08/616684259/why-more-white-americans-are-opposing-government-welfare-programs

    I also highly recommend Barbara Chasin's Violence and Inequality: Casualties of Capitalism, one of the very best books I've ever read. She ties it all together and shows how structural and organizational racism are woven throughout the entire fabric and all institutions of this country. This country is nothing if not paranoid and pathologically racist.
  • NOS4A2
    3.5k


    Apparently the article you linked to is about this study, which uses “group threat theory in its analysis. They have the clear mind to at least admit theory is a contested theory.

    I’ll give the book a try, thanks.
  • iolo
    227
    It doesn’t happen. It’s statism all the way down. Socialism is merely the siren song of despots.NOS4A2

    It doesn't happen because, so far, the capitalists have murdered those who try to bring it about. If it doesn't happen the species, however, is finished.
  • alcontali
    1.3k
    But I grow cynical whenever I hear politicians advocating for the welfare state, especially under the guise of compassion. Paying more taxes and advocating for more government services seems to me to be the very least one can do for his fellow man.NOS4A2

    Anybody who believes in what these politicians say, is a follower of their false religion.

    For a starters, they can collect money under whatever guise they want, how can you check what you do with it? So, either you believe them or you don't. I simply do not. I can obviously believe exactly what I want, as there can never be an obligation to believe anything at all.

    Next, I find these redistribution policies extremely dangerous.

    You will end up with women who claim that they don't need a man, because the government will give them money. And where does the government get the money from? From the men, of course. Therefore, as a man, you are throwing stones into your own windows by believing anything such government says.

    As a matter of fact, I am hostile towards that kind of government. I consider them to be enemies; which means that I will pretty much always prefer to side with their enemies.

    I have absolutely zero sympathy for that kind of dangerous liars.
  • Isaac
    2.5k
    You will end up with women who claim that they don't need a man, because the government will give them money.alcontali

    I don't know if you've visited the 21st century at all, but women can earn money for themselves now...
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