Bad Decisions

When fighting erupted between Israel and Lebanon it was my view that, rather than send Condi in to broker an immediate cease fire, we should let them fight. My reasoning was that I don’t like war and, for that reason, those involved should be allowed to engage in fighting until they could both taste the ramifications of those actions. Lo and behold, about a month or so in, a Hezbollah leader was quoted as saying that if he had known that kidnapping of Israeli soldiers would have led to the invasion of Lebanon he would not have ordered it. And there you have it: if you want someone to learn from their bad decisions, you don’t bail them out, you make them live with the consequences of their actions.

Ok, we seem to get it on the international front (at least in the above instance), but it baffles me why our domestic policy is so different. Problem: a percentage of people engage in actions which lead them to poverty. Solution, WIC, foodstamps, government housing, medicaid, and state subsidized burials. See that? You’re covered from the cradle to the grave so long as you do not achieve. One statistician with whom I debate online is fond of saying that welfare comprises only 1% of the federal budget. I can’t vouch for the validity of that claim but even so what she is ignoring is the cost of rewarding people for underachieving (the government is encouraging learned dependency among a group who otherwise might have become productive). And then there is the other thing: saying this evil is only 1% of the budget is like me pointing out the existence of a Nazi and then someone else responding that the Nazi is only four feet tall. That would not change the nature of the charge. Evil by any measure is still evil, Hitler doesn’t get points for being small!

My point here isn’t to indulge my resentment against welfare recipients because, truth be told, I don’t really interact with them (besides arguing with them about parenting time) and the issue does not affect me directly. My point today is I am wondering why helping the poor is universally regarded to be a virtue. Is it a virtue to not have money because being broke doesn’t make me feel especially virtuous. Is it a virtue to reward people for engaging in non-productive (and often destructive) actions? If so, why? Does this stem from the concept that money is evil and so we therefore strive to send it directly to the people who are most likely to mishandle it? Because if you really want bang for your buck I say don’t send it to the poor who are more likely to turn it into cigarettes or nail extensions, send it to the rich as they are more likely to put it to good use.

I think the impetus to give money to the poor belongs to a bygone era where wealth wasn’t being sufficiently produced to reward the majority of the people, regardless of their actions. In those days you might do all the right things and still not make enough to get by so, since virtue (best effort at productivity) was not enough to get by, people gave and accepted alms. But nowadays there is sufficient resources and opportunity available for us to be able to make a distinction. If you don’t make enough to feed yourself then (absent physical or mental disability) you’re absolutely doing something wrong and you should have to eat that.

If people were treated like that they would learn that bad decisions would earn bad results and they would move away from those things. Failing that we have people who won’t work, don’t feel they have to, think they are owed something for their non-efforts, and in the face of impending doom will sit in their houses and wait for the government to come in and rescue them from natural disasters because they think they have a constitutional right to be protected from the weather. And, as bad motherfuckers as the Founding Fathers were (George Washington will kick you apart), they neither tried, nor claimed it was their duty, to stop the rain.

20 Responses to “Bad Decisions”

  1. Jenn says:

    I come visit and you’re talking politics. Douchebag.

    “if you want someone to learn from their bad decisions, you don’t bail them out, you make them live with the consequences of their actions.”

    At least I know who NOT to call when I need bail!

  2. mexi says:

    Haha! I’ll make your bail if you have enough money to give it right back. And don’t even THINK about renegging because if you do I’ll plant drugs on you and push you right back into the police station!

  3. Jenn says:

    I’ll eat you for lunch.

  4. Nice Rack says:

    Mexi, one more 1st place trophy for the mantle, and female MVP is all sewn up. Go team. You gonna be at the spot tomorrow night?

  5. guy in the UNLV Jacket says:

    Jenn is out of control today. I’m all for not reinforcing destructive behavior

  6. Phelps says:

    I’ll pay her bail but only if I get it back in trade.

  7. Jenn says:

    UNLV, you’re always out of control, why can’t I be just for once?

    Phelps, what’s the trade?

  8. mexi says:

    (slapping myself in the forehead)

  9. Phelps says:

    I’m not even sure that direct payments are only 1%. Just a quick run through the budget:

    HHS (medicare and medicaid): 294.334BB
    HUD (Various): 33.206BB
    FHA: 78.226BB
    Labor: 41.336BB
    Treasury (EIC and Child Credit payments): 49.183BB
    SSA: 563.030

    That’s 1,059,315,000,000. 1,059BB. The total budget is 2,472BB. That makes just what I’ve marked from the major summaries is 42%. That doesn’t take into account farm subsidies, student loans, comrporate pork contracts, etc. (Mainly because I couldn’t figure them out in the summary items.)

  10. mexi says:

    Maybe she only counted how much actually gets to the welfare recipient after the government machine chomps up 75% of the money first. The numbers would still be off though but closer.

  11. Jenn says:

    With you guys, I’d never get out of jail!

  12. guy in the UNLV Jacket says:

    I remember back in the mid 90s somebody came up with a statistic that said 60% of the federal budget goes to entitlements. I don’t know weather it is more or less now but that is a whole hell of alot of money

  13. mexi says:

    It would be more convenient if we just paid the guards to let us IN the jail with you.

  14. Citizen Quasar says:

    Annuit Coeptus Novus Ordo Seclorum

  15. mexi says:

    Hey, France just beat Germany in an international basketball match. I wonder if that means the Versailles Treaty goes back into effect.

  16. Citizen Quasar says:

    You mean like…uh…the French didn’t surrender?

  17. Jenn says:

    “It would be more convenient if we just paid the guards to let us IN the jail with you.”

    And how the fuck would that benefit me?! HELLO!

  18. mexi says:

    I’m into rational self interest, remember? 🙂

  19. Jenn says:

    Rational? Who’s talking about rational, much less YOUR self interest when I’M trying to make bail? Throw me a freakin’ bone here, pal.

  20. Phelps says:

    How will it benefit you? heh heh mm heh mm heh mm mm

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