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The Way We Help People Does Not Help People

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The highest form of charity, argued the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, is when the help given enables the receiver to become self- sufficient.

But our systems of state charity - aka welfare - have too frequently had the opposite effect: they have actually created dependency. It is time to re-think the way we help people.

I'm going to suggest something that many might find upsetting and outlandish - that welfare would be more effective, more varied, more widespread and affordable if there were no state involvement. Read on

2013-12-26-helpinghand.png

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Creating dependency is both a waste of money and a waste of human potential. But does the private sector do a better job of giving than the public sector? I'm not so sure.

One of the biggest charities in the UK is the lifeboat institute, largely thanks to their great marketing and a national fondness for our maritime heritage. But with the demise of coastal freight and inshore fishing a great deal of their work is now actually helping wealthy yachtsmen who have run out of fuel. Or another case is guide dogs for the blind, from what I understand there are far more trained guide dogs than suitable recipients and the charity is stuffed with cash.

In the meantime charities for prostate cancer or tourette's syndrome really struggle to raise funds.

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Great article! Stefan Molyneux makes a similarly convincing argument.

If it isn't voluntary, then it isn't charitable. It is just theft followed by a sharing out of the loot. This brings all sorts of problems with it, including dependency, entitlement, resentment, rent seeking, inefficiencies etc.

Threatening one set of people in order to give to another just isn't either a civilised, nor an effective way to help people and society as a whole.

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Interesting read, thanks for posting.

I'm certainly for smaller government - I am struggling a bit to see how the total abolition of the welfare state necessarily leads to individuals replacing it and it being better than the state version. I accept that competition leads to improvement, I just feel I'm missing part of the picture... If I imagine a world where benefits are paid in a new voucher/currency and then benefit providers compete to provide welfare in exchange for the vouchers/currency am I heading in the right direction?

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Interesting read, thanks for posting.

I'm certainly for smaller government - I am struggling a bit to see how the total abolition of the welfare state necessarily leads to individuals replacing it and it being better than the state version. I accept that competition leads to improvement, I just feel I'm missing part of the picture... If I imagine a world where benefits are paid in a new voucher/currency and then benefit providers compete to provide welfare in exchange for the vouchers/currency am I heading in the right direction?

As soon as you involve violence, you perverse the incentives. You create a special case where violence is acceptable, just because some liars in suits say so.

How society would help those in need is impossible to predict. However, just because something is unknown, it doesn't mean force should be used instead.

There are myriad ways for people to help one another. We should have a little faith in humanity to figure it out.

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Letting people build their own shelter would be a start. And it would stop rent extraction which is where most of the money is wasted.

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Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Er... he sits by a river all day drinking beer?

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Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Get paid to give men fish, and you have job for life.

The last thing most welfarists want is a society where welfare isn't required, because it will put them out of work. That applies both to government and many private charities.

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Get paid to give men fish, and you have job for life.

The last thing most welfarists want is a society where welfare isn't required, because it will put them out of work. That applies both to government and many private charities.

The welfare industry is also a good little number for the pseudo-private companies like G4S and A4E tasked to police it. Taxpayer funded bullying for political gain.

Citizens' Income?

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Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

...until he breaches his EU quota, has to throw back all that he catches (even if it's dead) and isn't allowed to fish again until an arbitrary deadline has passed. Then he's back on benefits...

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Welfare is the symptom NOT the cause.

We took away people's jobs in the 80s and those have never been replaced (all the post WWII unemployment records show this).

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The benefits paid to the unemployed are small proportion of the total benefits bill:

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/apr/06/welfare-britain-facts-myths

Most is pensions. Do you really want the private sector administering your state pension in any way ?

A pension is just life savings converted to a regular income at retirement. If it wasn't for tax breaks and inflation funneling money to spivs, pensions would be child's play.

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Welfare is the symptom NOT the cause.

We took away people's jobs in the 80s and those have never been replaced (all the post WWII unemployment records show this).

Who is this 'we' and which jobs did they own?

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Who is this 'we' and which jobs did they own?

I'm not going to argue semantics.

My point is employment statistics show globalisation started putting a generation of working class folk (and subsequently all their kids) out of work 30 years ago and it will continue to rumble on.

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I'm not going to argue semantics.

My point is employment statistics show globalisation started putting a generation of working class folk (and subsequently all their kids) out of work 30 years ago and it will continue to rumble on.

Who is this 'globalisation' and how are they preventing people from working?

You may as well blame the boogeyman. If people make stuff more cheaply elsewhere, they are not taking anything from anyone else - they are just offering stuff at a lower rate.

However, what this has to do with using violence to fund handouts, I have no idea.

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Who is this 'globalisation' and how are they preventing people from working?

You may as well blame the boogeyman. If people make stuff more cheaply elsewhere, they are not taking anything from anyone else - they are just offering stuff at a lower rate.

However, what this has to do with using violence to fund handouts, I have no idea.

You're still arguing semantics and on top of that you're putting words in my mouth.

The original article the OP linked to suggests its benefits that have caused unemployment and all the other maladies of modern times.

This is bull.

It's obviously globalisation that has caused unemployment. People in this country have been prevented from working simply because somebody in another country can be exploited more easily to work for far less (the majority of this manufacturing of course now occuring in communist China).

I'm not saying anything about anyone taking anything from anyone, I certainly didn't mention violence, and I'm absolutely not laying blame - I'm simply pointing out globalisation and the movement of manufacturing overseas is what has clearly resulted in lower employment levels (and consequently higher benefit dependancy) in this country since the 1980s.

Any idiot who can look at a graph can see how the unemployment/benefit claimant rate in this country has soared since the onset of globalisation.

As I said, benefits are a symptom not a cause. I'm not saying we should scrap or do away with globalisation either - I'm just pointing out its difficult to have it (and the benefits it can bring) without it resulting in higher unemployment/welfare dependancy rates in this countries that embrace it.

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You're still arguing semantics and on top of that you're putting words in my mouth.

The original article the OP linked to suggests its benefits that have caused unemployment and all the other maladies of modern times.

This is bull.

It's obviously globalisation that has caused unemployment. People in this country have been prevented from working simply because somebody in another country can be exploited more easily to work for far less (the majority of this manufacturing of course now occuring in communist China).

I'm not saying anything about anyone taking anything from anyone, I certainly didn't mention violence, and I'm absolutely not laying blame - I'm simply pointing out globalisation and the movement of manufacturing overseas is what has clearly resulted in lower employment levels (and consequently higher benefit dependancy) in this country since the 1980s.

Any idiot who can look at a graph can see how the unemployment/benefit claimant rate in this country has soared since the onset of globalisation.

As I said, benefits are a symptom not a cause. I'm not saying we should scrap or do away with globalisation either - I'm just pointing out its difficult to have it (and the benefits it can bring) without it resulting in higher unemployment/welfare dependancy rates in this countries that embrace it.

I have sympathy with what you're saying, particularly because libertarians are such nutters, but I suggest that you read up on Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage.

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If you have ever served on a committee, you will see the problems of private charity.

People with little relevant experience (like MPs) put up some daft idea, those who have experience and know that it will not work get outvoted.

Frankly, I think that the state with all its imperfections is likely to do better rather than volunteers usually with some agenda.

Seeing how well Belgium ran for many months with just a Sovereign nominally head of state and the civil service to run the place points the way.

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Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Give a man a fire and you keep him warm for a day. Set a man on fire and you keep him warm for a lifetime.

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Give a man a fire and you keep him warm for a day. Set a man on fire and you keep him warm for a lifetime.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll sit about in a boat drinking beer.

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Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Give a man a fire, keep him warm for a day. Set a man on fire, keep him warm for the rest of his life.

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