State-Run Programs for the Poor, or Individual Responsibility for Helping Those in Need?

The following debate originally took place on my Facebook wall, upon my post, “Paying Taxes Will NEVER Qualify as Giving to “Charity””

Rayn: Wake up to the illegitimacy of coercion!

"It's amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people yourself is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness. People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered. If we're compassionate, we'll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint." - Penn Jillette

“It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people yourself is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness. People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered. If we’re compassionate, we’ll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.” – Penn Jillette

Brian K.: But for the people in need of being fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered it’s all the same. Self-righteous joy and moral credit (kind of defeats the purpose of altruism) is a luxury. I think their immediate needs are greater than leaving it to the chance of charity and some generous volunteers.

Rayn: Hmm… I have a quick question for you, Brian. Have you ever been one of the “people in need” that you refer to? Well, I have – and, I can say for certain that the various forms of assistance out there in this world are not “all the same,” as you claim. This is true no matter how dire the individual situation at hand. And, forcing an apathetic public to finance a corrupt, soulless institution (whether the “State,” or otherwise), purely in the HOPE and FAITH that a lack of direct concern for (and interest in) the ACTUAL welfare of others will miraculously translate into anything other than systemic ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND FRAUD… Those individuals are living in a PURE FANTASY LAND!

My experiences have long ago opened my eyes to the fact that those hired by the State to “aid” the needy not only loath the poor and destitute, but also actively seek to punish, demean, degrade, demoralize, and strip the dignity of those they are duty-bound to assist. State aid for the poor is nothing more than a rotten fraud, and a dismal failure – giving the apathetic an excuse not to help those in need (nor, to lift so much as a finger, or to get their own hands dirty, for that matter), and the sadly misinformed, yet good-intentioned, a reason not to act!

For a solid three and a half years, from the ages of twelve to fifteen, I lived within the confines of the NYC shelter system. I did so with my three siblings and two parents – enduring NINE different locations in total, spanning four of the five boroughs. And, I can honestly state that I would rather be DEAD, or LIVING ON THE STREET, than to EVER endure such a systemically corrupt and evil nightmare AGAIN in my life!

Where do I begin? Let’s see… We were REPEATEDLY robbed by the administrators, case workers, and security guards, alike, who all had full access to our possessions, and our mail. At the Auburn family shelter in Brooklyn, I witnessed administrators and staff sell ALL valuable state-paid goods, from fans to brand-name cereal – right out the back door, regularly – pocketing the cash for themselves, while us, the lowly occupants, went without (with an entire truck load of fans delivered, then subsequently loaded back into another vehicle, and sent off, you can rest assured that not a SINGLE occupant of that nine-story, ex-hospital of a Hell-hole building was allotted even a single one in the summer of ’92 – EXCEPT FOR ALL SECURITY, CASE WORKERS and ADMINISTRATORS)! That same shelter arbitrarily attempted to force occupants to only eat their almost inedible, jail-house quality shelter food, and wouldn’t allow “outside food” under the guise that they were trying to prevent “rats.” Yet, they had no problem with occupants bringing the toxic trash from the cafeteria up into their living quarters. We were actually kicked out of that very shelter because we were caught “smuggling” beverages in through our window at night.

In ALL shelters, adult occupants were subject to arbitrary curfew times, as though children, or probated criminals. In a number of shelters, all parents were arbitrarily forced to take “parenting” classes, regardless of circumstances, or situation – including those burned out of their homes, etc. – signifying a complete and total WASTE of tax dollars – not too mention, lining many greedy pockets!

Security guards often engaged in covert relationships with female occupants, then showed them favoritism, allowing them to skate around the more ridiculous of the shelter rules. And, many of the guards were pure sexual predators, REGULARLY soliciting minors for sex, with the offer of food and/or cash.

Every time a family is moved from one shelter to another, a mandatory TB test is given. This is done without ANY regard for the fact that a potential occupant might have JUST had one administered less than a month prior. This led a great many of us occupants to receive a “false positive,” including my own mother, quickly resulting in quarantine protocols, and denying those stigmatized with entry. This ouroboros of a scenario signifies not only a complete waste of tax dollars, but also an unnecessary medical procedure, guided purely by bureaucracy, with NO regard for KNOWN bio-safety protocols, not the homeless – adults and children, alike!

My family and I were actually treated with more dignity, respect and compassion by the staff running the donation-based “Meals on Wheels” van, and by the staff at the various privately-run and church-run soup kitchens than we EVER were by the scum-sucking State! And, we were provided with QUALITY food by these places, too, not some slop unfit for dogs – like the garbage supplied by State “aid,” which was really just leftover dregs after State employees finished stealing and dealing away anything worth a shit.

Rayn: Speaking of State-sponsored medical malpractice, shortly after finally leaving the shelter for good, at the age of 16, my parents began bringing me to the “Board of Health” building in Brooklyn in order to receive “free” dental work – a service offered to all low-income children. After two visits, I was told that I would need a root canal. What came next changed my entire life…

The dentist began the procedure, drilling into my molar tooth #30. He then filed out the roots. After this, he slapped a temporary filling on the crown, and sent me home, with an appointment for SIX MONTHS LATER (absolutely dangerous, unethical and insane – I would learn later)! Well, two months later, the temporary was WELL worn down, and I began to taste the dentin of my tooth EVERY TIME I ate. So, my parent called the “Board of Health” dental center and told them what was happening, and they explained that the dentist would not be able to finish the procedure until the day of my appointment, but that I could stop by and he would take a look at it. So, we went back to the dentist, he checked the tooth, picked at it with his instrument and said, “Oh. I see. The temporary has worn down.” He rinsed the tooth, and promptly slapped a new temporary filling onto it.

Three days later, the discomfort started. It was the day before Thanksgiving, 1997, but remember it like YESTERDAY. Two more days passed, then came the REAL pain – the likes of which I have yet to experience again. I’m not ashamed to say that I sat on the edge of my bed, and wept, and wept, and wept – so much so, and for so long, that my parents ended up bringing me to the emergency room against my will, as I did not want to endure any more procedures at that time.

Coney Island Hospital simply prescribed me some extra strength ibuprofen, and referred me to the dental center at Bellevue Hospital in NYC. Afterwards, my face finally began to swell, indicating the presence of an abscess. By the time I reached Bellevue, my face was severely swollen, and I was rushed on for emergency dental surgery. Through the inside of my mouth, the doctor sliced and drained the abscess, then sutured two rubber tubes into the incision, to keep the area draining. Afterwards, I felt very horrible and in pain, but was told to come back the next day for a follow-up. When I returned, I was promptly diagnosed with dehydration and infection, and I was admitted to the hospital, and spiked with an IV. I remained there for an entire week, with those drains painfully sewed into the inside of my cheek. By the time I returned to school, I was so behind, that I had no choice but to drop the AP Calculus class that I had been doing so well in… I was basically set up to die by the non-aid of the worthless, unconcerned, unethical, uncaring State, and when I recovered enough to speak with a lawyer, I soon discovered that victims of the City of New York are only allotted 90 days to file a lawsuit, and I was too late…

I have many more personal experiences with the joke called State-based “aid,” and I’ll be happy to list them here, if you’re interested in knowing what it REALLY looks like on the INSIDE, from human eyes – not just how it looks on paper, and in statistics!

Rayn: As far as I’m concerned, those who call REAL charity “chance,” and the joy that comes from it “self-righteous” are simply those who don’t actually help others. The many things I’ve done to aid those in need comes purely from COMPASSION and UNDERSTANDING (not through the coercive force of the State, and not for “moral credit”). And, any feeling of happiness that I experience in doing so is not “self-righteous,” but comes from the knowledge that I’ve actually significantly helped to alleviate the suffering and hardship of another! And, this is something that I am INCAPABLE of feeling through forced taxation to fund State-based, dignity-stripping, corrupt, ineffective, FALSE “aid.” For me to support such poisonous ROT would be PURELY HYPOCRITICAL, considering my own personal experiences!

Here’s an article I suggest you read:

Libertarians and the Poor:
http://political-economy.com/libertarians-and-the-poor/

As the author notes the following:

In fact Milton Friedman, a great Libertarian said we have a responsibility to the poor. Friedman believed ‘trying to do good with other people’s money simply does not work’. It is about making real gains to help the poor, instead of just ineffective government programs’.

The author also writes:

I live in post socialist Poland. I see now that after 20 years of capitalism and the movement away from socialism, people are giving more and more each year. In fact under socialism the state freed the individual from the responsibility of helping the less fortunate. And believe me nothing was accomplished. Everyone was poor and did not live well. The poor were not really helped, only government officials and bureaucrats. This is why Libertarians are for helping the poor, just in a more efficient way than Democrats.

GOVERNMENTS HURT THE POOR IN WAYS THAT PEOPLE CANNOT SEE (*emphasis mine). Author Charles Dickens who grew up under much darker times economically than we have, opposed government help for the poor? Why? He felt it was ineffective. The author of Hard Times and Oliver Twist felt private charity reformed and changed people, while government charity brought people down. I live in Poland and believe me this is the case. I know there are empirical studies to back this up, but I do not need to look at these studies to know, I just have to look around.

And, with all of this in mind, also realize that biology does not tend to agree with the highly cynical notion that helping others is some “chance”-based exercise in selfishness:

Forget Survival of the Fittest: It Is Kindness That Counts (Aug. 2009):
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=forget-survival-of-the-fittest


Humans Evolved To Be Peaceful, Cooperative And Social Animals, Not Predators (Feb. 2006):
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/38011.php

The Compassionate Species (July 2012):
http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_compassionate_species

Young Children Are Intrinsically Motivated to See Others Helped (August 2011): 
http://pss.sagepub.com/content/23/9/967

We’re In This Together: A Pathbreaking Investigation into the Evolution of Cooperative Behavior (Nov. 2012):
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119094629.htm

Humans Naturally Cooperative, Altruistic, Social (Sept. 2011):
http://phys.org/news/2011-09-humans-naturally-cooperative-altruistic-social.html

A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution (Jan. 2011):
http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9474.html

Instinctively, People Are Generous (Sept. 2012):
http://news.discovery.com/human/human-instinct-generous-120919.html

(update: archived copy of above link located here: http://web.archive.org/web/20121004113714/http://news.discovery.com/human/human-instinct-generous-120919.html)

Emory Brain Imaging Studies Reveal Biological Basis For Human Cooperation (July 2002):
(Brain intrinsically rewards reciprocal altruism over self-interest)
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020718075131.htm
(*all it takes is free-will initiation of altruism by only one party in most cases!)

Thinking About Giving, Not Receiving, Motivates People to Help Others (Aug. 2012):
http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/thinking-about-giving-not-receiving-motivates-people-to-help-others.html

The idea that human beings are inherently selfish, and incapable of helping each other without the use of coercion is just a MYTH propagated by rotten-souled tyrants who desire to manufacture public consent to their population control schemes. And, the more such stories are repeated as though fact, the more individuals believe it, and act accordingly, denying their own humanity under the notion that others are doing the same – the blind leading the blind, in a most pathetic display of conformism.

In “The Rights of Man,” Thomas Paine wrote the following:

For upwards of two years from the commencement of the American War, and to a longer period in several of the American States, there were no established forms of government. The old governments had been abolished, and the country was too much occupied in defence to employ its attention in establishing new governments; yet during this interval order and harmony were preserved as inviolate as in any country in Europe. There is a natural aptness in man, and more so in society, because it embraces a greater variety of abilities and resource, to accommodate itself to whatever situation it is in. The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act: a general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.

The peaceful Northern Indigenous tribes of the Americas – the Iroquois League – lived in a system with no poverty, and yet, did not enforce fake charity by gunpoint, or the threat of prison! And, remember that this group is where America borrowed their Constitution from (except that the American version didn’t recognize equal rights for men and women, alike, and also enabled the legal enforcement of institutional slavery, of course)!

Rayn:  Please tell me all about your wonderful personal experiences as poor person receiving state assistance, Brian… I’m very interested in learning the EXACT degree with which I been made naive and uninformed by my own lying eyes!

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