Ask a Libertarian: “Without the Government, Who Takes Care of The Poor?”


October 22, 2016 by JImbo

Big topic this week I’ve heard over and over:

“If Libertarians are so big on cutting government, how will they provide for the poor?”

Well, in a nutshell the “poor” are not a permanent class of people. They are people who need some help. However, they don’t just need a handout. They need a hand UP. You can only do that with a one-on-one contact with another member of the community.

“But if you cut the welfare programs, what will happen to people?”

That is where you separate the Libertarian (Freedom lover who believes in people) from the Progressive (Big-government/Socialist/Statist who has no faith at all in human nature.) I admit I’m a Libertarian because I see every day the good side of human nature at work. It’s not a theory. Out here in the country, it’s just a way of life.

1) There ARE many community organizations privately helping the poor. 2) If the government weren’t doing all that it does (badly), even more would step up. It’s just tougher to get people to donate to a cause when “well I already pay taxes for people to do that.” For example… we have no paid fire dept out here. Ours is entirely volunteer. So, people know that and come out to fundraisers to support it. In most cities people would think you were nuts for a Fire Dept for having a “fundraiser” because “that’s what my tax money pays for!” Volunteering helps the community in several ways. First, it is cheaper. Second, it is more efficient because you KNOW who needs help in your own community and it doesn’t have to travel across the country. Third, it stays in the community (no “redistribution of wealth” to different areas by Federal fiat) Therefore, more of the money gets TO the actual people in need…not bureaucrats and paperwork. Fourth, people feel involved in their community and it fosters a sense of civic pride and responsibility. Fifth, the people BEING helped are not just “clients” or case numbers. They are NEIGHBORS and FRIENDS. Since you connect with them on a PERSONAL level, both the giver and the receiver benefit from the relationship. As a consequence, these programs tend to actually address long term issues such as depression, drug abuse and broken families that the larger, impersonal programs do not. Only PEOPLE can treat other people as human beings. A “system” cannot, no matter how many rules you put in place. It is a “system” not a person. The contact must be personal, voluntary and community based. For these reasons (and more) private charity is ALWAYS a better idea than institutional welfare programs.

Besides, the definition of “charity” is a voluntary giving. That is the context Jesus used it in the New Testament. Yes Jesus did say to “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” (ie “pay your taxes.”) However, he importantly said that YOU (his disciples) should aid the poor and needy. He didn’t say “create a program to tax people to do it.” He didn’t say “Tell Caesar to do it.” Jesus said each person should do what they can to help their neighbor.

This of course leads into the whole discussion of the “Taxation is Theft” meme, but let me summarize it for you quickly.

You are told to pay income tax to the government.

Taxes are paid with money.

You get money from work.

That work takes time.

In other words, those hours you spend working to afford to pay taxes are taken from you.

What do you call it when you are told to work for a period of time, after which the fruits of that labor are taken from you and distributed by someone else?

Oh that’s right I think that’s called “slavery.”

Oh sure, you sometimes get stuff in return. The slaves got food and a cabin to sleep in too. Maybe new clothes if they behaved.

No, not all fees are taxes. Not EVERYTHING is theft or slavery.

VOLUNTARY transactions are a good thing. That’s what our economy is based on. There are many things that the government does that aren’t taxes.

For example, you pay a toll to drive on the Thruway or some bridges. You buy stamps to put on letters to send through the Post Office. Those are fees for services.

There are two key attributes that separate these things from taxes/theft.

  1. You pay for a direct service…which goes to pay for that service.

2. You can decide to use that service….or not. You can “opt out.”

If you can’t apply BOTH criteria, then it’s a tax…and it’s theft.

Now there’s one more logical progression to think about today.

If you can’t opt out, then it must be involuntary.

That means that you can go to jail eventually if you don’t pay up.

If you don’t WANT to go to jail, they have to use force.

That force could lead to deadly force if you resist strongly enough.

So… any involuntary tax you don’t CHOOSE to pay for a service must be theft… and that theft must be enforced at gunpoint to have authority. After all, if everyone just ignored paying their taxes… the government would collapse right?

So the next time someone says “There should be a law about that” or you want a new government-paid program… ask yourself if it’s worth KILLING for. Are you willing to go take that money from your neighbor at gunpoint? If not, then is that new law a good idea?

And that finally leads to my last point on the legitimacy of government. As you know, in the Preamble to the Constitution it states quite clearly that the Federal Government is founded by “We the people.”

They meant this in an INDIVIDUAL fashion, not as a single group. This is evident in the way the Bill of Rights is for individuals, not groups. YOU as a single person have the right to free speech, not you as a Republican or you as a black person. Each individual has the right to do anything that doesn’t harm another person. The Bill of Rights just hits on the high points for clarity, but it doesn’t exclude others. For example, it doesn’t say you have the right to dance or play video games. However, if you aren’t hurting anyone, why not?

This is important because as the Constitution sets up a government “owned” by individuals, it is much like a company that is run by individuals. You are a share holder so to speak in the “American” company.

Voting for members of Congress is no different than voting for a new company CEO, or hiring a new manager. You can’t do it all yourself, so you delegate the day to day running to people. (Imagine if we ran the presidential debates like a job interview!)

However, anyone you hire is limited by the fact that you hired them. I can’t hire anyone to do anything I can’t do. For example I can’t hire a hit man to kill someone…because I’m not allowed to murder people myself. I can’t hire someone to steal for me because I can’t steal from other people.

See where I am going with this?

Therefore, your GOVERNMENT and it’s employees cannot DO anything (morally or legally) that YOU as a citizen can’t do because YOU are HIRING THEM. They work for us. Anytime anyone says the government has “special” powers, they are WRONG.

The government doesn’t have “special powers”… they can only have unconstitutional power grabs. The system was expressly set up in this manner for a reason.

Why is this important? Well it all ties together. If you want to take tax money to feed the poor, then you have to logically look at what you are really asking others to do.

If you want tax money to feed the poor, you are essentially hiring someone to steal from people at your command and distribute it to other people as you desire. Not only is that blatantly unconstitutional and immoral, it is egotistical and harmful to everyone involved.

Not only is the person demanding this false “charity” (theft) wrong in asking, the person doing it is a thief. The person losing the money is a victim of theft. The person receiving the money is benefiting from “dirty money.”

Furthermore, they have no appreciation or self worth from the “gift” because it’s taken at gunpoint. The taxpayer gets no joy from the theft since it wasn’t voluntary. It perverts the very concept of “charity” and replaces it with an extortion scheme.

If YOU are not willing to go steal the money yourself at gunpoint and distribute it…then you have no right to demand that others do so. Instead, go volunteer and make a difference. You will feel better. The people you help face to face will feel better.

Best of all, it is the moral and legal thing to do.

THAT is why I’m a fan of Liberty.










3 thoughts on “Ask a Libertarian: “Without the Government, Who Takes Care of The Poor?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    It is interesting that our poorest are also among the fattest in the land. Generations of welfare breed more welfare.


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