Friday, January 01, 2016

Ayn Rand Got Social Security? Welfare State As a Prison Manipulating You to Accept It

A common rationalization for the welfare state is that even Ayn Rand had to accept Social Security payments. This is intended to discredit her and all other critics of the welfare state. Indeed, I regularly attend a taxpayer-funded city library. I drive on government roads that taxes pay for. Upon retirement, I intend to collect Social(ist In)Security money. We are then told that if not for the welfare state, we critics of the welfare state would be starving, homeless, and naked. I am told that if we had a liberal republican Night Watchman State without taxpayer funding for social services, I would have no public library for reading and no roads to drive on.   Therefore, it is said, we free-marketers are ingrates.

That entire argument is based on a fallacy. The reason why we free-marketers use taxpayer-funded government services is that the welfare state has manipulated the system in such a way that privately funded alternatives (including private charity) become less readily available -- so much so that, to survive, we free-marketers resort to using the government monopolies.  It does not follow that if the welfare state were replaced with a liberal republican Night Watchman State, there would be no consensually-funded public library for me to attend.

Here I am in a YouTube video explaining this.

And by the way, Happy Stu Year! ^_^

Clarification of what I said about Noam Chomsky's "libertarian socialism":  It is claimed that what Chomsky wants, in the long run, is a system of limited government, wherein people live on collectivist communes voluntarily, not forced to do so by the State.  In the present, though, Chomsky does advocate expansions of government power, including his praise for the graduated income tax.  I think Chomsky reconciles the two positions as Karl Marx did:  Like Marx, Chomsky would prefer that the State forcibly establish a collectivist lifestyle in which people selflessly toil for the collective community.  As Marx said, it is only after people become accustomed to this collectivist lifestyle that the State can be allowed to wither away.

Also, when I referred to the politician who was the godfather of William Ewart Gladstone, I mistakenly referred to the man as "Thomas Ewart."  The man's name was William Ewart -- William Ewart Gladstone was named after him.


UPDATE from Tuesday, February 2, 2016: I am told that when people throw around that accusation about Ayn Rand, I should give them this link.


UPDATE from Friday, February 6, 2016:

I have seen this cartoon circulating on Facebook.

That is intended to ridicule critics of socialism.  Let us examine its points.

Roads. Back in the early 1800s, the USA had an impressive system of roads whose construction and maintenance relied on consensual funding. These consensually funded tunrpikes extended thousands of miles and connected entire cities to one another, such as from Lancaster to Philadelphia and back. These roads were owned and constructed by merchants who wished to make their wares more accessible to customers from outside their neighborhoods. When you look at the books of the road companies alone, it appears the return on investment was only 2 percent. But when you look at the revenues and profits of the other businesses owned by the road companies' owners -- when you look at how much money they were making both before and after the roads were completed and in operation -- the return on investment is greater. What happened, though, is that these merchants wanted to rent-seek: if they could persuade the government to tax everyone to finance roads, that would reduce the costs of the merchants relying on roads. When taxes funded the construction and maintenance of roads, that disincentvized parties to build and maintain roads through consensual funding, as they would "pay double." That is the reason why roads were socialized in the USA.  It is not because there would be no roads if not for the State taxing people to finance their construction and maintenance.

Social(ist In)Security. If not for this system taking money out of our paychecks, we millennials could keep our own money to save for our own retirements.

Veterans' Administration (VA). Have the news headlines over the past three years shown you that the VA has made health care readily accessible for veterans?

GI Bill. That was one of the first programs where the government provided prospective students with capital for funding their higher education. And that's what actually created the present mess with higher education. The more the State helps pay for people's university educations, the more that drives up demand for higher education. That's why tuitions have gone up and millennials are burdened with student debt. And making university education "free" will not reduce those costs. The only way for tuition to go down in the long run is for demand to go down.

40-Hour Workweek. The reason why people enjoy a higher living standard today even as they have shorter working hours is that every input of one hour's worth of human labor has gained in productivity. That actually has to do with machinery and technology making economic production more efficient. For that, we have profit-driven inventors and profit-driven engineers to thank, not labor unions attempting to restrict the output of laborers.

UPDATE from Sunday, March 13, 2016:

Scott Hampton made this meme: