Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Question for the day: About “entitlements” [updated]

Here's a question for you to consider this morning.

Is a welfare cheque an entitlement?

Yes, or no?

Feel free to explain why. Or why not.

Don Watkins Q&A Question 4 from The Undercurrent on Vimeo.


  1. Richard McGrath2 Nov 2011, 09:36:00

    A welfare cheque - whether from private sources or extracted from the taxpayer by force - is not, and should never be, an entitlement.

    The only entitlement due anyone is that others, not least of all the government, respect their privacy and their property.

  2. I've always said that if the government is going to steal money from you, you should be entitled to steal it back... legally of course... But if you've paid no tax, or only GST in your life, there should be no entitlement. Unemployment benefits here in Texas work a bit like that - you have to have worked a certain amount of time with a certain amount of income to be entitled, and even then, the amount depends on those factors. But in reality, the amount drawn down far exceeds the amount paid in. At least in NZ when I drew the dole for a spell, I could claim I had paid a third of my incomes for fifteen years, so even if I was on it for another five (paying GST too!) I still wouldn't have recouped what had been taken.

  3. I should add also that if you are injured in a war fought on the orders of a government, that government should be required to look after you to the extent of your injuries. That seems perfectly libertarian to me.

  4. Blair

    re: your comments

    There is nothing libertarian about being "forced" to fight in a war.

    Thus, in a libertarian state your point regarding the obligation of government in the event of injury, wouldn't arise. All participants in an army would be volunteers, and being volunteers, would accept the risks associated with their service.

    Also, there is no justification for war except in terms of national defence.

    One other thing - the rationale that you use to justify being on the dole does not stand up to scrutiny. Remember - when you accept any largesse from the government, you are using the government as an agent to steal from your fellow citizens. There is no justification for stealing, however you try to justify it.

    Instead, fight against ALL forms of theft. Fight to prevent the moochers from acquiring your money in the first place. Stealing it back, whilst it might seem moral, is as immoral as the original theft against you.


  5. has as one of its definitions of entitlement, "the right to guaranteed benefits under a government program, as Social Security or unemployment." So, by that definition, yes.

    But if you are asking whether anyone has the moral entitlement to a welfare benefit, then the answer to me is obvious. How can it be moral to accept money obtained by force from another?

    That old fraud Mao Tsetung got something right when he said all political power comes from the barrel of a gun. Let's not forget that that is what lies behind the tax and welfare system.

  6. Mike, have you ever gone into a shop for a refund and asked specifically for the exact same twenty dollar bill you handed over? Otherwise it's "someone else's money" surely? I don't think your argument holds. It doesn't matter if the government spend my money on somebody else at the time of theft, if it's stolen from me it's still a debt to me. So I am not stealing from "someone else", I am taking what was mine.

  7. entitlements.... entitle-itis is the disease that will will be the downfall of the west.

    the only entitlements people can have are those they expended effort, be that physical, financial, or mental into acquiring. An annuity from one's own superannuation being a prime example.

  8. No a welfare cheque is NOT an entitlement.

    That having been said, I think welfare is a privilege which a humane society should extend to those who are either terminally ill and incapacitated or genuinely mentally, intellectually or physically disabled.

    I would estimate that this category comprises around 10-15% of total welfare beneficiaries and I would not begrudge these people my help at all.... but the rest of them should be gradually weaned off and forced to fend for themselves.

    I say 'gradually' because a sudden cut-off would be far too much of a societal upheaval and also basically unfair to the beneficiaries themselves who have been taught false values and expectations by the system which has used them in a sick electoral bribery scam for years.

    A government which really wanted to fix the welfare trap would issue a clear set of policy statements which nobody could fail to understand. For example, a total stepped phasing out of the DPB within 5 years, a progressively harder set of criteria for unemployment benefit over 5 years, the abolition of WFF over a 3 year period and so on. This would give the teat suckers ample time to prepare and adjust and nobody could pretend they didn't see it coming. The 'minimum wage' should be set a $0.50 per hour so that employers can pay people what they are actually WORTH. This would give incentives all round for people to upskill and/or put some effort into their lives.

    A proportion of the money freed up by slashing the welfare state should be used to radically improve the care given to genuine cases like the physically and intellectually handicapped and genuine nutters such as schizophrenics who have been abandoned in favour of buying the votes of the lazy and idle.

    The issue here is more than just one of what is 'fair' or 'reasonable'. The welfare state is destroying our country's skills base, its productivity and its work ethic and if it goes on much longer our society will literally decompose.

  9. It would be interesting if someone were to make the case for it actually being an entitlement.

    It isn't, however.

    I'm interested in Zito's views on defence and exactly how obligated anyone else is to those who fight for them.

    If we take that the army under a libertarian state is voluntary, and someone is wounded while in its service, does the fact that they were a volunteer render them unworthy of support? Remember that much in the same way that a nuclear weapon does not need to be fired to prevent war, an army does not have to be deployed, it just has to be deployable to be a deterrent.

    If you are unwilling to support people who are injured, in what is certainly a dangerous job - more people died in accidents in peacetime 80's American military services than in war time 2000's Iraq - why would anyone ever join, unless the compensation was out of this world?

  10. Well as a taxpayer in the past, I think I'm entitle to a welfare cheque. This is no fault of my own as my ex-husband deserted me and the kids for a younger woman. Before I had children, I worked my ass off to pay tax. When I'm in need of temporary handout while I sort out my financial affairs, I believe that I'm entitle to a welfare cheque.

  11. @ STC

    I may have confused you with the term 'volunteer' - I am referring only to non-conscripted servicemen, professional personnel, paid for out of State revenue. As happens now in NZ. (ie; have joined the armed services of their own free will)

    Notwithstanding that, if my homeland was attacked, or threatened with imminent attack, endangering the lives of my family, friends, my possessions and the way of life that I had worked so hard to build up and enjoy, would I sign up voluntarily to help destroy the marauders? Bet your ass I would.

    Would I care whether I was injured or killed in the defence of that which I love and cherish? I would prefer it didn't happen, but would be prepared to die for the cause.

    Would I expect compensation in the event of my permanent injury or (for my family) my death? Expect, no - however I know that such compensation would probably be volunteered in an appeal by the citizens of the country in gratitude. This could also apply to professional servicemen however there would be a part of the defence budget set out to cater for death/disability payment)

    The generosity of spirit witnessed in Christchurch following the earthquakes provides evidence of this. No coercion was required.


  12. DPB Mother - It is a reasonable question to ask why you didn't sign an agreement at the time with your then husband regarding his obligations to pay for your children and for you to bring them up? I'm hardly surprised if you didn't because the taxpayer is there to pay up for the deeds of others. What SHOULD happen is that he pays subsistence costs for your children and if they are too young to go to school, an allowance to pay for you to raise them. If you want more than that, then you should work. Just because you both bred and split up, doesn't mean others owe you.

    You may have paid taxes before, but they didn't go into an insurance scheme to cover you. They went to pay for other people to receive welfare, some of whom are now working, some of whom are now dead and some who are still on welfare. It is a fair point that you may well be better off if you had paid much less tax and been able to make provision for "rainy day" situations like this.

    The way things are, you couldn't, you didn't and now your children are having money borrowed for them to pay back in taxes.

  13. Ayn Rand had no problem with someone getting back from the state what they had had taken from them in tax.

    One of the attacks on her is that she is a hypocrite for taking social security when ill at the end of her life...but she had paid lot of tax in her life and had no issue with getting her moneys worth back when she needed it.Of course the state system should not exists at all with all welfare and aid being privately funded and voluntarily given...

  14. DPB Mother -

    Don't you think it would be more honest to go and ask other NZers yourself for money rather than have a Government steal it for you?

    What do you think they might say to you?

    Having a Govt. proxy your entitlement doesn't change the fact that it's still coming out of someone else's pocket.


  15. It depends how you view it.

    If you view it as a case similar to Healthcare (or any monopoly government programme) where you have had your right to be free of tax for Healthcare and purchase Healthcare Insurance instead, in a free competitive market, removed you can justify using the Healthcare system as something you were compelled (not forced) to do, i.e. the government forced you to buy Health Insurance for it's monopoly system and this expense compelled you to use it. Similarly with Welfare we are not free to keep our taxes attributed to the welfare system and opt out, therefore in receiving a short term benefit it can be argued people are taking advantage of a compelled unemployment insurance policy.

    This is from someone who has never received a welfare payment.

    The other view looks at the hideous inefficiency of such programmes, the huge moral hazard entitlement to an unearned and unlimited insurance policy introduces and the unbridled power it grants politicians to administer such a system.


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