Questions about the morality of government charity
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14-12-2011, 10:06 AM
RE: Questions about the morality of government charity
(14-12-2011 07:41 AM)mdak06 Wrote:  
(13-12-2011 09:56 AM)Chas Wrote:  In short, we have to collectively define our social contract.
A major difference between conservative and liberal is in the nature of the social contract. To an arch-conservative, it is not moral for government to take money from someone to give to someone else; to a bleeding-heart liberal, it is entirely moral.

I'll disagree slightly (re: your statement about conservatives) but that's not really the issue. More to the point, why does a "bleeding-heart liberal" consider it moral to take money from someone and give it to someone else?

By the way, what makes a conservative an "arch-conservative" anyway?
My intent was to cast these as extremes of right and left. The far right thinks there should be no taxation at all, the far left sees no upper limit for taxation to enbale the collective good.
Quote:
Quote:To a non-ideological centrist, it is not a question of morality but of utility.

I'll buy that. But if it isn't a question of morality, or ethics, or "pick your favorite word for right & wrong," does that mean that any action taken is acceptable as long as it provides enough utility? If not, then why not?
Yes, that's what I mean by "collectively define our social contract". Until we define what our society is for and how it should work, details of taxation are meaningless - they are free-floating concepts. We can't decide whether taxing the fortunate to benefit the less fortunate is right or wrong without defining our relationship to each other as human beings.
Quote:
Quote:All are seeking peaceful, stable, secure society in which to live, but they differ in the details. And your question is phrased in emotionally-loaded language.
Please rephrase my question in un-emotional language and tell me how I should have said it.
Having carefully re-read your original post, I see your argument more clearly. Your first statements are intentionally biased to contrast with the last ones. I'm good with that - it's good rhetoric.
Quote:My perspective is that many people "take it as given" that there is a government, that it raises lots of money via taxation, that its job is to spend money by giving handouts to poor people, giving loans to students, giving subsidies or tax breaks for businesses, ensuring health care services for all, etc. The questions then start from that point on - how should we give money out? Who should receive it, and how much?

I don't take any of those assumptions as a given. For any government, why does it have more authority than ordinary people? Why can it do things ordinary people have no right to do?
I don't take it as given, either. We are governed by mutual consent, and the government exists at the consent of the governed. We decide these issues, and that's what makes them legitimate. Morality doesn't enter into it.
Quote:I think that most would agree that everybody has a right to defend themselves from criminals who would do them harm, and therefore it would logically be within one's power to authorize others (incl. a government) to also provide this protection.

If a government has the moral authority to take money from some people and give it to others, why don't I as an individual? If I don't have that authority, why does the government?

See above. Mutual consent and all that. You don't have the authority because that's anarchy. The government does because that's the will of the people.

All of my answers are based on the theory of government - how it's supposed to work.
Right now in the U.S.A., it's not working quite that well. Most of congress is bought and paid for by monied special interests and this really distorts the system, far more than a little redisitribution of wealth would.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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18-12-2011, 09:18 AM
RE: Questions about the morality of government charity
Just for this let's imagine everyone who works has to pay 10 percent taxes, which is already really low.
For my example both people have the same expenses, flat, family:
The person has a wife and child, earns alone, has an apartment with two rooms, internet, tv, heating, electricity, phone.
Apartment = 800 Euro
Internet/Phone = 30 Euro flatrate
TV = 15 Euro
Heating = 30 Euro
Electricity = 50 Euro
Makes 925 without health insurance and without bus tickets etc.

Person A makes sandwiches in the fast food restaurant and earns 1400 Euro pre tax a month which makes 1260 on his bank account
1260 - 925 = 335
That's not even 100 Euro for food per week. Better no getting sick, better no needing shoes, better the kid needs nothing for school...

Person B built up a business that is running well. What he gets out of it, after paying employees and paying the business expenses, for his personal use and pre tax is 4000 Euro. That makes 3600 Euro on his bank account.
3600 - 925 = 2675

So yes, I think the taxation should be different depending on your income. I do not say go and take from your neighbour. I say make taxation fair to everyone. Why would it hurt Person B to pay 5 percent more? Person A would do a lot better with 5 percent less to pay? It would be fairer to the community and the government would still get the same amount.

I am aware that this is a naive way of calculating with taxes but I do not have a decree in economics.
I am also aware that the rich person worked a lot for the money but still, the poor person also worked a lot for the bit he has.

cheers

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20-12-2011, 08:34 PM
RE: Questions about the morality of government charity
Quote:
Quote:If a government has the moral authority to take money from some people and give it to others, why don't I as an individual? If I don't have that authority, why does the government?

See above. Mutual consent and all that. You don't have the authority because that's anarchy. The government does because that's the will of the people.

All of my answers are based on the theory of government - how it's supposed to work.

If we assume that a government only has powers that people can grant to it, I don't see how a collective group can grant a right to the government that the people themselves do not have. If we're assuming something else, I guess then it works logically, but I'm still not sure exactly how a group of people can mutually consent to assign powers they don't have to a government.

As I see it, it would be logically similar to Microsoft trying to grant a license to someone to use iTunes (which they don't own, so how can they?).

I'll try to respond to more later this week ... I've been away from the Internet for the most of the past week. Thanks for the discussion - I appreciate it!
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20-12-2011, 10:06 PM
RE: Questions about the morality of government charity
Slept through Grade 8 civics? It's not too late to get a primer on the theory and function of government.

It's not the mean god I have trouble with - it's the people who worship a mean god.
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