You have no right to what you didn't earn, or, Matt finally snaps.

Andrew worked for thirty-five years at the plant. Suddenly, head office decides to close the plant. Andrew is out of a job, with no pension and no benefits! He looks and looks for another job, but it’s difficult to find work when you’re a sixty-year-old who’s spent your life in the machine shop. His savings only last so long, and then they run out, and he has no money to support himself in his old age, but that’s OK, because you have no right to what you didn’t earn!

Kayla’s stepfather abused her, so she ran away from home, fearing for her life. Now she’s on the street, and you can’t find a job when you can’t dress nice to find one, but that’s OK, because you have no right to what you didn’t earn!

James’ homophobic parents beat him up, disowned him, and threw him out of his house when they found out that he was gay. He hasn’t finished high school, and like Kayla found out you can’t find a job when you’re filthy and starving, so he throws himself in front of a subway train. But that’s OK, because you have no right to what you didn’t earn!

Lakshmi was the first one to be evicted when her racist landlord decided to cut costs. She’s too poor to afford a lawyer to sue him. Now she has no money and no home, and winter’s coming, but that’s OK, because you have no right to what you didn’t earn!

Dustin worked in the coal mines. Now he has lung disease, and the treatments will bankrupt his family. But that’s OK, because you have no right to what you didn’t earn!

Finally, Davey is the child of two lower-class working parents. He goes to bed hungry sometimes. His parents are too exhausted to interact with him when they come home. Davey can’t do his work in school when he’s had no breakfast, and he can’t pay attention to the teacher if he’s constantly worried about his mom and dad. (For that matter, who’s paying for the school?) Maybe, since his education is so marginal and his home life pathetic, when he gets a little older he turns to crime. Or maybe gets addicted to drugs. Or maybe drops out of school to try and find a job, and of course he can’t, because nobody in their right mind would hire a thirteen-year-old dropout. Who knows? All we know is that this child does not have much of a future before him, because his parents didn’t earn enough money, and even if you’re a thirteen-year-old child, you have no right to what you didn’t earn!

And of course, we can all see how this is SO MUCH BETTER! No rich people were harmed during the destruction of these lives! Nobody had to pay one red cent that they didn’t want to, to give these people the opportunities that the well-off enjoy!

This is clearly so much better than those pinko systems that try to meet people’s basic needs so they have the means so that they have the same opportunities as other people!

I’m sure our friends Andrew, Kayla, James, Lakshmi, Dustin, and little Davey appreciate how lucky they are to live in their country because if they were rich, they would not have to pay taxes!

Paradise on earth!

It could have been worse, matt—they might have had their lives interfered with by (gasp!) the government!

(There there, dear, have a brownie and read some Chomsky and save some strength for tomorrow’s battles.)


lol…Kimstu, I am sure that was what was foremost on their minds…“God forbid those conspiring government bastards attempt to take me from the freedom of this squalour.”

I’m with Matt on this one.

note to avalon: Kimstu agrees with you. Thank you both for the vote of confidence… it feels good, since (side note) I just got told over the phone that the really good job I was aiming for has been swept out from under me. I think I’ll go lie down now.(/side note)

that sucks man, hang in there, it’ll happen for ya.

Matt! Don’t you realize that the selfless, altruistic citizens of the great Libertarian Utopia would rise up as one and eradicate such horror in an orgy of properly consensual charity, thus proving once and for all…

Sorry… I tried to keep a straight face for the whole paragraph.

Andrew is nearing an age when he should have been thinking about retirement. Skilled Machinists are paid a pretty fair wage, thanks in part to their unions. Andrew should have been investing some of this money, so he wouldn’t have to rely on the gov’t to support him. Andrew collects social security. Andrew probably also collects from a union pension.

Kayla needs to look into checking into a govt’t and/or private shelter. They’ll help her she get back on her feet if that’s what she really wants.

James can go the men’s shelter around the corner from Kayla. Whoops! Too late! He jumped in front of that public transportation vehicle. I guess we should have gotten rid of those and James would still be with us. Then James could go the men’s shelter around the corner from Kayla. They’ll help him get back on his feet if that’s what he really wants.

Lakshmi, was evicted because her landlord is a racist scrooge? How did this happen? He’s cutting costs by evicting tenants? I don’t follow the logic here.

Dustin has black lung disease. Dustin should have joined one of the class action suits. Dustin probably should have been wearing the safety equipment issued to him. Or Dustin could have reported his employer to OSHA/MSHA.

Finally, Davey should sign up for the public school breakfast program. Then he won’t be hungry and can complete his coursework and go on to higher education. Maybe, if he perseveres, he’ll even earn a college degree when he attends a publicly subsidized university.

Yep, you are right. It’s much better now.

I’m sorry you see the world as being bleak and cold Matt, but there really are opportunities for people to improve their lives if they really want to. It may not be easy, but the alternative is just giving up. And that’s the real shame.

I’m sure our friends Andrew, Kayla, James, Lakshmi, Dustin, and little Davey now appreciate how lucky they are to live in their country because they are fruitful and productive citizens who needed a bit help at one time, but are now self-sufficient taxpayers.

matt_mcl wrote:

The ACLU will often take on such cases for free. And depending on what state Lakshmi lives in, there may be a state board of equalization or housing that can bring much faster and effective action against wrongful eviction than the courts can.

And if Lakshmi had enough money to pay her rent to begin with, why can she not find another similarly-priced apartment after she’s been evicted?

Oh, no, no, no, UncleBeer. You’re assuming that these people live in the United States. As we know, the United States doesn’t even come close to being such a libertarian utopia.

And you know what that means. No social security for Andrew. No government shelters for Kayla or James. No legal aid for Lakshmi or Dustin, and no medicare for the latter either. No school lunch program or subsidized university for Davey. And no psychological coverage for any of them when they succumb to despair.

But when via the grace of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit several thousand dollars happens to fall from the sky on each one of them, they won’t have to pay any taxes on it. Surely, they are saying over the grumbling of their stomachs and the patter of the rain, some small sacrifices are in order to maintain this tax-free paradise we live in!

UncleBeer and tracer, you’re missing the point. My point is not to highlight the plight of the poor (we already know that.) My point is to show what it would be like if we decided to implement a government based on the principle that you have no right to what you haven’t earned and that what you’ve earned fair and square is inviolable.

After all, government shelters, legal aid, medicare, school lunch programs, and subsidized universities are all “unearned”. Or wouldn’t you agree?

Um, the top 20% of wage earners pay something like 75% of all taxes. Most of it coming from the top 5 %. Care to show some stats showing that the rich don’t pay taxes?

It is the poor who do not pay taxes.

As for the people above, I can see that you believe that people are never, ever responsible for anything that happens to them, therefore we should have a warm, kind and Generous big brother to siphon money to anyone who doesn’t have money. And of course it is those bastards who hoard their money who should pay.

Rich and successful = evil
porr and a failure = good


Mr. Zambezi, read my OP again. Now do it again. Now read all of my posts. Now do them again.

As I just finished saying, this is a thought experiment in a society in which we get what the libertarian threads have propounded: no right to what you don’t earn; inviolability of what you own.

Now post again.

Umm yeah Matt, I guess I was missing the point. Rather than an indictment of the Libertarianism, I thought this was huckersterism for a communist or social democrat regime where the “needs” of people are addressed by their government from cradle to grave. Or as they say in Sweden, erection to resurrection.


Our study question for today:

If, instead of the situation you posit, we allow the government to take a significant portion of our incomes to “solve” these problems and prevent these occurrences, what happens? Do the numbers of poor people go up or down? Are people abused more or less?

Why do you insist on assuming libertarians don’t care about these problems? We know that government can’t and won’t fix them. We don’t count on the government to solve the problem of poverty for the same reason we don’t count on plumbers to fix our TV’s.

Come up with a plan that doesn’t involve forcibly extracting money from productive citizens to create a series of “entitlements” for unproductive ones, and we won’t bitch or complain.


I should wait until I’m finished to submit.

Matt, as it turns out, my wife cares a great deal about animals. She regularly contributes our money to organizations like the Humane Society and the World Wildlife Fund. She probably thinks that everyone should contribute to them.

Now, imagine if Andrew or Kayla lived next door to you, and you wanted to help them out. Unfortunately, you don’t have any “extra” money left after the Humane Society and WWF money is taken from your paycheck. But that’s not right, you think. People are more important than animals. My wife says, Fuck them–they can take care of themselves. Animals can’t get jobs. Now, is it right that your money could be given to help these people, but is instead being given to a cause that you think is less important?

People have different values. Libertarianism doesn’t seek to restrict people from helping each other out. It seeks to allow people to choose how their money is used, to make sure that they are giving to whom they want to, not whomever the government has decided is most important today.

So, if you lived in a society that didn’t force you to help others, you wouldn’t? I’m very disappointed in you. I thought you were more steadfast in your beliefs.

Off-Topic: Bummer about the job, dude.


I like that Swedish quote!

I believe that if I were to exist under the libertarian system, I would give to organizations with which I sympathyzed (like Smartass’ wife I would probably give mostly to environmental or animal welfare organizations). However (and perhaps I am a cynic) I don’t believe everyone would, or perhaps even most. Thus I question (and I appologize if I am misunderstanding Libertarianism, I freely admit my knowledge of it is limited to what I have read in this and another thread) whether it could truly work.


Would it work perfectly? Probably not–then again, neither does anything else. Would it work better than what we have? I think that it would. Plus, by removing the entitlement aspect of the system, it would remove incentives to not work.

I have never personally known anyone who could stand idly by while others suffer, or anyone who said that they didn’t feel any responsibility for the poor. The problem is that now so many think that it is the government’s job to solve these problems and are willing to ignore the fact that, even with the massive budget that it has, that it is actually making the problems worse. I think that most Americans feel too strongly about this issue to not try to help the starving.

Empirically speaking, if, under a libertarian system, the poor and downtrodden are not helped, it just means that the people don’t care enough about the problem to make any sacrifices to solve it. Do you think so badly of your fellow humans?


I’m confused, Smartass. (And I feel silly calling you smartass without acrimony, but I guess that’s why you chose the handle…) Isn’t that the system we have now? Of course the numbers of poor people don’t go up or down based solely on government aid programs, but that aint the point is it? As Uncle Beer pointed out, it because we have the system you try and scare us with above that Andrew, Kayla, James, Lakshmi, Dustin and Davey have recourse for their prospective plight.

Maybe I’m just cynical (read: accurate), but I’m pretty sure about as many people under your Libertarian system would voluntarily contribute to the “Help Your Neighbors” fund as contribute now to PBS.

Mr.Zambezi, do you believe people are always responsible for what happens to them? Our present system is based on the concept that “Shit happens, let’s do something for the people it happens to.” The Libertarin philosophy seems to be “Shit happens, but it’s not my responsibility.” I know which system I’d rather live under.


Colorful name.

Pretty much. And we keep spending more and the numbers of poor go up. You’re pleased with this? I am contributing money into a retirement system that is practically guaranteed to be bankrupt when I retire. You think I’m pleased with this? Should I say, Well, at least somebody’s doing something? Instead, I say, “Give me back my damn money–I can do better than that.”

So, you think that most people think that feeding the poor is no more important than supporting a public TV station? Well, if that’s the case, what the hell are we spending so much more government money on one than the other? It should be divided equally.

The libertarian philosophy is, “Shit happens, and it’s not government’s responsibility.” Whether or not it is your responsibility depends on your personal beliefs. I just don’t believe in forcefully making it your responsibility.


So, if you were a Swede, for example, you would choose to stay home and collect welfare rather than work? I’m disappointed in you.

I’m a single gay man. I could survive on welfare if I had to. It would be a hell of a lot easier than working, that’s for sure. But you know what? I’m not going to. And you know why? Because it would be a shitty way to live. Very, very few people stay on welfare because they are lazy. If they stay on welfare, it is out of despair.

Getting back to your point, if I had the misfortune to live in a country such as you desire, I would donate whatever I could. (And I should mention that right now, I’ve got next month’s rent in the bank and that’s about it; I also lose my job next week.) But I’m going to do that anyway. Because, as you say, I am steadfast in my beliefs.

Besides. In a society in which people have to pay for the entirety of their own education, health care, and other public services themselves - how much disposable income do you think that even the people with good jobs are going to have?

(Oh, and don’t say they’re already paying for it themselves. Canadian medicare is a lot less expensive for each person than American medicare. For one thing, the costs are more spread out; for another, having one system per province, rather than myriad private systems with each hospital having to account for every one, keeps the costs down.)