RE: Public Programs As “Wealth Redistribution”.

This is a very common way to frame criticism of “welfare” programs, and even things like a public insurance option that most people who get it would pay for like regular insurance.  People criticize these programs by saying that they “steal” your money through taxes and give it away to other people, ie wealth redistribution.

But there are a few problems with this logic.

The first is that there is no government program that isn’t paid for with taxes from everyone which doesn’t disproportionately help some segment of the population.  The justice system, police, courts, prisons etc disproportionately help people who are the victims of a crime.  The fire department disproportionately helps people whose houses catch on fire. If some country invades Florida tomorrow our defense dollars will disproportionately help Floridians, etc.  I don’t see how this is any different than something like food stamps disproportionately helping people who don’t have any food. 

The second problem with this thinking is that “wealth redistribution” seems to imply that somehow the wealthy are becoming poor and the poor are becoming wealthy under this system, which is certainly not the case.  If we were taking away rich peoples’ mansions and turning them into flop houses for the poor I would understand their outrage, but a penny of sales tax to make sure there aren’t people starving in the street?

And finally, my favorite way that this nonsense breaks down, is that if someone loses their job or something and has no money for food and they ask for a hand out the government can a) give them a few hundred bucks so they don’t get too desperate and can buy food for themselves and whatever family they have.  Or b) disregard the request and in at least some cases make that person resort to theft to feed their family.  When that happens oh boy does it get expensive for you.  If they get caught then YOU have to pony up the dough for a trial, a public defender, prosecutor, judge, prison, guards and all the little expenses in between like office supplies used, gas usage and so on.  A simple crime can cost many thousands of dollars to process and prosecute, and a major crime like robbery can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars with appeals, encarceration etc.  At this point you may think “well what if they don’t get caught, what if they just steal a little food from the grocery store and no one notices?”  Well then the store’s expenses go up and they have to raise their prices a few cents and you end up having to pay what you should’ve just been willing to part with in the first place to make sure that poor shmuck’s family wasn’t going hungry to begin with!

Society always pays for poverty regardless whether it has it in it’s heart or it’s head to try to address the problem.

Rec’ this if it makes sense to you.

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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68 Responses to RE: Public Programs As “Wealth Redistribution”.

  1. I just read the 2010 tax brackets.  Looks as though I’m giving 25% of my money to the gov. and that’s after the tax on food, gas, electricity, ciggarettes,  25%!!!  If I were lucky enough to make over 300,000, I’d be paying 35%. hmmm25 and 35 are not that far apart considering that my salary is far far far from 300,000. 

  2. mikenpeg says:

    @Hong_Wei_Loh – My husband is a volunteer fireman, and his department could not survive on mere tax dollars, not by long shot. They depend very much on personal donations, fund-raisers, etc. by and for the community, from donors and volunteers who actually believe in helping others without expecting to be repaid in some way. And yes, they will put out anyone’s fire and help anyone in an accident, no matter if they have ever contributed a dime or not; if they’re from the neighborhood or five states away. So, really, free-will distribution of wealth is the only way the entire community is served by the department- and my husband provides his time and energy for absolutely nothing.  I’m not claiming this would work on a huge national scale; I’m just saying that it does work in our community as a much better alternative to paying in=receive a service method.

  3. agnophilo says:

    @Mischief_Skittles – They lowered the tax brackets rather than adjusting them for modern salaries.  As it stands someone making $300,000 a year pays the same taxes as someone making $300,000,000 a year.

  4. agnophilo says:

    @mikenpeg – That model unfortunately works better in smaller communities that have fewer people and fires that are at less danger of spreading.

  5. Hong_Wei_Loh says:

    @mikenpeg – Yeah, the company I used to belong to worked the same way. We had the Fireman’s Ball and a few other annual fundraisers. All that is unnecessary now–tell the hubby to find a good grant-writer to write some good AFG grants and voila, you guys’ll have the nicest newest apparatus around to rival FNDY or Chi-town FD. Then ya just gotta find the guys to staff em.Really though, I fail to see what all that had to do with what I said. I was just educating ol Agno on the history of the Fire Service and how the alternative to the “redistribution of wealth” works.As for national funding for fires…laff if only you knew. Every time SoCal blows up and runs up a $150million/week suppression bill, well, a huge part of that is Federal tax dollars at work. So really, ALL you should be pissed at your tax dollars being redistributed to SoCal every fall…

  6. andfeud says:

    you spelled schmuck wrong.

  7. agnophilo says:

    @andfeud – Ah well : )  Thanks for point it out though.

  8. andfeud says:

    @agnophilo – those Scandinavian/Yiddish words tend be sprinkled with unnecessary Cs.

  9. agnophilo says:

    @andfeud – Yeah, superfluous C’s suck! : )

  10. you know what’s kinda funny?since everyone’s been dropping the word ‘socialism’ like it’s a bad thing created by the devil and hitler and darth vadar, i actually did a little research…and i’ve become a democratic socialist! i think it would be cool to redistribute a little wealth…is that so wrong?

  11. agnophilo says:

    @Cookstergirl88 – : )@Theater_Pixie – I don’t think we should redistribute wealth so much as not have a system so strongly tilted to favor the moneyed interests to begin with.

  12. tingkish says:

    In Singapore, we do not have social welfare. If you’re poor and out of a job, it’s due to your laziness and your lack of sociability (otherwise why aren’t there anyone to help you?).If you need some social welfare, you need to be old and disabled – mental disorder or other factors don’t count. To add to that, it’s an incredibly lengthy process to get the money and the government only gives up to S$280 per month. That’s barely enough to pay for your gas and electricity.The reason? The authorities want to prevent laziness and promote financial prudence. Both in the government and in individuals.

  13. tracezilla says:

    If you listen closely enough, even the most experienced bullshitter will show what they’re really thinking when it comes to welfare. That the people on it are bums and that they don’t try to get jobs, or at least don’t make any real attempts, and that women spew forth children as if their vaginas were a volcano and their babies the lava in an effort to stay on welfare and up the amount of money they get per child.Its bunk and bull. But, its what most people against welfare really are thinking. Even if they think its not PC to say so and so they try to make other excuses.

  14. agnophilo says:

    @tingkish – It’s apathy.  The most hard working person can be out of work or have unexpected expenses.

  15. agnophilo says:

    @tracezilla@lovelyish – They would rather hang people they’ve never met out to die than chip in for the good of society.  And it wouldn’t be so bad if 1 of 2 of our political parties wasn’t making a decades-long effort to appeal to apathy and selfishness and greed and reassure people that these are virtues, and that being a “bleeding heart” is a vice.

  16. SoullFire says:

    It’s understandable that some of the truly wealthy may object to “sharing” some of their wealth for the “have nots”, but the trick lies in these wealthy individuals convincing the masses that all socialized programs are an avenue for lazy undeserving folks to abuse the system at their expense. Many of the masses don’t realize how close they are in being a “have not” and wind up voting against their own interests. I know of at least one case where a woman who was unable to afford health insurance for herself and family was railing against the evils of socialized medicine – totally missing the point that  it was a vehicle for more affordable healthcare.

  17. agnophilo says:

    @SoullFire -Stupid masses are made to vote against their own interests in almost every election. In the last election “drill baby drill” was the rallying cry to solve the energy crisis, even though it wouldn’t even begin to address the problem and would only further line the pockets of oil executives.

Speak yer mind.

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