Paying for other people’s choices


This tweet doesn’t seem to have  anything significant to say, UNLESS you have already bought into three unspoken assumptions:

  • Individual responsibility is bad.
  • Forced transfers of benefits are good.
  • Lower taxes are bad (or, taxes are good).

I can easily visualize Peter Coffin’s ancestors whipping the peasants for not being able to afford their taxes. Because taxes are good!

Why they’re good, we have to extrapolate again: the assumption is that the money will be spent on something BETTER than what the person who earned it would have spent it on. You know, like secret CIA black ops in resource-exporting countries, involving torture, assassinations, and the occasional “pacification” of villages.

As for individual responsibility, that gets back to the core assumptions of Modernity: reality is plastic, you can have anything you want if you throw enough technology or government at it, you can transcend cause-and-effect.

Of course, this offer isn’t open to everyone! For every “positive right”, or privilege, someone else must have an obligation to supply it! This is true even if you express the problem in terms of collectives: some class of people must have the responsibility to produce more than they consume, if another class of people has the privilege of consuming more than they produce. That’s why he advocates for taxes and benefit transfers.

Aside from the issues of what happens to parasites that kill their hosts, or what happens when you run out of other people’s money to spend, the big question is what happens, after a long period of time, if you rescue one class of people who aren’t responsible for their own choices, at the expense of another class of people who have to pay. Specifically, what do you get, more good choices, or more bad ones?

What do you think?

Namaste! The Divine within me honors the Divine within you. I tell stories about lessons I've learned the hard way. Follow @KalkinTrivedi on Twitter.