Thursday, 30 May 2013

QUOTE OF THE DAY: On the morality of taking welfare

“Since there is no such thing as the right of some men to vote away the rights of others,
and no such thing as the right of the government to seize the property of some men for the
unearned benefit of others—the advocates and supporters of the welfare state are morally
guilty of robbing their opponents, and the fact that the robbery is legalized makes it morally
worse, not better. The victims do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury
done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting
them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites who clamoured for it. Whenever
the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution, the victims should take it. . . .
    “So long as financial considerations do not alter or affect your convictions, so long as
you fight against welfare statism (and only so long as you fight it) and are prepared to
give up any of its momentary benefits in exchange for repeal and freedom—so long as
you do not sell your soul (or your vote)—you are morally in the clear.”

- Ayn Rand, 'A Question of Scholarships,' from the collection The Voice of Reason

8 comments:

  1. Sounds about right. But curious. Did she write that well before she accepted her benefits or after?

    Just looking for her motivation.

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  2. "Whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution, the victims should take it. . . ."

    Hmmm... first it's called legalized robbery and then it's called welfare-state law.

    But she's still correct that voting for something doesn't create any right to other people's property.

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  3. I've always said that if the government is stupid enough to give me money, I'm smart enough to take it. If people don't like that, they can stop voting for Labour and National, because guess who allows it?

    Personally, I think if everyone became an Atlas and shrugged by quitting their job or business and going down to the local WINZ office, there would be no faster way of ending the welfare state.

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  4. Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people”
    John Locke

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  5. If everybody had 'shrugged' their jobs to collect the tax they paid there would have been no welfare state to support Rand & pay for her lung surgery at the end of her life.

    No wonder she took her welfare payments under a different name.

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  6. @Dinther: Written in the 'Objectivist Newsletter, 1966, so well before. Motivation for writing it?

    It's in her introduction: "Many students of Objectivism are troubled by a certain kind of moral dilemma confronting them in today's society.
    [I am] frequently asked the questions: "Is it morally proper to accept scholarships, private or public?" and: "Is it morally proper for an advocate of capitalism to accept a government research grant or a government job?"
    I shall hasten to answer: "Yes"—then proceed to explain and qualify it. There are many confusions on these issues, created by the influence and implications of the altruist morality..."

    @Dave: You've never heard of pen names? Her surgery was private. Her Social Security/pension was of course in her married name, not her pen name.
    If there'd been no welfare state, and if the money from her book sales had not been largely inflated away (inflation being a silent tax), she might have had more at the end of her life. (Indeed, her books sell much better now than they did then.)
    "Victims do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury
    done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting
    them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites who clamoured for it."

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  7. @PC: 'Ayn Rand' was not just a pen name. She lived almost her entire life in America as Ayn Rand and this is even the name that appears in the Social Security Deaths Index.

    According to the interview with the social worker which brought her welfare receipt to light, she was reluctant to take it and had to be talked into it. So for an absolutist she was pretty confused as to what her principles were.

    To believe the 'if you paid in you can reclaim what was stolen' excuse you have to believe she calculated what she paid in and would have stopped once she reached this amount. This isn't feasible for an old lady in poor health or anyone out of work for that matter. Your rationalisation FAILS.

    ReplyDelete

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