Monday, January 18, 2010

From Each According to Their Ability...

Lately I've been thinking about the notion of welfare and universal healthcare etc... I know these issues are complicated, and Lord knows I am one of the least qualified to talk knowledgeably about them, but it seems to me that there is an underlying notion which is rather simple to work through, the notion of fairness, and yet it seems this aspect is never discussed and analyzed. Yet to me working through it seems like step one.

What am I talking about? Well, we all know that resources and wealth in our society are not distributed equally. A lot of our social programs are aimed at helping those who cannot afford basic needs - food, shelter, healthcare. This to me seems correct at a certain level. I don't believe that a utopian society can exist where everything is distributed equally. And we know because of various fundamental forces, such as supply and demand, and innate intelligence and other skills that some people will be more successful than others. If you're born with an IQ of 90, and your neighbor is born with an IQ of 150, chances are your neighbor will succeed better than you through no fault of your own. Or if your house burned down because it was hit by lightning and you lost all possessions, you should get humanitarian help from your fellow citizens.

However, it is clear that a large percentage of those who receive help, help which I pay for through taxes on my hard work, do not try to better themselves, and are not in dire straits because of some misfortune, but because they are just not interested in working hard and improving themselves. This is a politically incorrect statement, but it is indisputable.

It is true that there are no easy solutions. You cannot take a homeless bum who was living on the streets for ten years and put him in a corporate environment and expect him to thrive. And clearly there are barriers of prejudice and ethnic discrimination, yet these are surmountable - and the truth of the matter is that these are at their lowest level now than ever before. And if Jews can come to this country as peddlers and tailors and their children can become doctors and lawyers, and the same with the Koreans and the Chinese who come here as grocery owners and laundry operators and their kids dominate the Ivy Leagues, and the same with the Indians who come here and drive cabs and work in gas stations and donut shops and seven elevens, there is no reason why others cannot.


Anonymous Garnel Ironheart said...

> You cannot take a homeless bum who was living on the streets for ten years and put him in a corporate environment and expect him to thrive.

You never saw the movie "Trading Places"?

As for your final point, 100% correct except you have to remember context.
Jews who came from Europe, as well as immigrant Chinese, Indians, etc. came from countries where there was no public welfare system and the only way to survive was to work 8 days a week, 25 hours a day as hard as you could. No one gave you free money or health care. You had to earn it.
Now combine that hard-scrabble "I've gotta succeed" attitude with the incredible opportunities present in North America and you see why these communities have done so well in their second generation.
People born here, on the other hand, are born into a culture that does its best to prevent complete failure. Can't get a job? We'll give you welfare and subsidized housing. Can't afford health care? For you it's covered. Can't afford higher education? We'll make it so the basic education system doesn't teach anything anyway so no one's ahead at the end of it. As a result, unless a person has an inner drive to succeed, unless he really wants that mansion on the hill, he will be content to sit back and live on minimum rather than work for a little more.

BTW, come by and visit:

January 22, 2010 5:20 AM  

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