Free Markets, Free People

Health Care Reform – The Moral Argument Against

Joseph C Phillips writes an excellent post at Big Hollywood addressing the health care issue (it’s a comparison between Canada’s system and ours which goes beyond just the obvious differences). In it, he gets to the moral essence of what those who want the type of reform Democrats are promising are really asking for. It is, as you’ll see, a damning review:

I must remember to share this article with my friend Bryan. Bryan is a cancer survivor. I have had friends that have lost their battles with cancer so his continued presence on this earth is a great joy to me and a fact of which I am sure he is also no doubt ecstatic. Bryan is particularly interested in the current state of health care costs because his insurance paid for what he terms a “measly portion” of his treatment- he is currently burdened with the cost of what his insurance did not cover. He simply can’t afford the astronomical cost. His complaint is echoed by many clamoring for nationalized healthcare. What remains unclear is under what moral principle one man can demand that others pay for his healthcare and whether any policy not firmly grounded in a moral truth can be just.

Bryan’s story perfectly illustrates the truth that the rising cost of healthcare has coincided with the rising quality of healthcare. It is true that not too long ago he would have paid considerably less for his cancer treatment. The bad news is that he would not have been around long enough to spend his savings. New drugs and new technologies lengthened his life as it they have for hundreds of thousands of others. Progress comes with a price tag.

Bryan was not denied care. In fact no one in America is denied healthcare. He had insurance and he has an income with which to pay what the insurance didn’t cover. The fact is– he would much rather spend his money on something else other than hospital bills reaching into the thousands of dollars. What better solution than a system where cancer treatment is paid for by someone else? He may be interested to learn that the U.S. ranks first in the world in cancer survivor rates and that breast cancer survivors in Canada have filed a class action suit against several hospitals that forced them to wait 12 weeks for radiation therapy. Obviously neither Bryan nor other national healthcare advocates want to wait in lines or have others decide if they are to live or die. What they want is someone else to foot the bill even if children receiving a public education must suffer.

Those three emphasized lines are the crux of the battle. On one side, you have people who want the care but want someone else to pay for it. They’d like to call that “fairness” because they can’t afford (or don’t want to pay) the cost of the care necessary to save their lives. On the other hand, we have costly treatments being developed that save the lives of people who previously wouldn’t survive the disease. Those who develop and administer those treatments want to be paid what they’re worth. That is the incentive that drives further research and development of advanced treatments.

How, morally, do you demand others pay for your health care problems? We’d all scream and holler if we were required to help pay for our neighbor’s roof if it was damaged in a storm. Through no real fault of his own, his roof was damaged. And insurance only paid a portion of it. Would we accept the idea the government has a moral right to take our money to pay for his roof?

Of course not. We might help him voluntarily or we might not, figuring it was his responsibility to plan and save for such an eventuality. But we’d certainly never accept the premise that government had any moral right to demand we pay for our neighbor’s roof. Yet with health care, that premise remains front and center.

Phillips hits the nail right on the head when he notes his friend Bryan would “much rather spend his money on something else other than hospital bills reaching into the thousands of dollars.” Of course he would. So would we all. But that still begs the question of what moral right we have to obligate others to that duty? Notice I didn’t ask how we do it “legally”. As Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union should have taught us, the immoral can be made legal at the stroke of a pen.

The Democrat’s solution, of course, is to declare what Bryan wants to be a “right”. What it would really be is a legal privilege granted and enforced by the coercive power of the state. Morally, it would be no different than declaring that every citizen has a “right” to a sound roof and legally making it the obligation of every other citizen to pay to ensure that “right” is fulfilled.

We wouldn’t stand for that. Yet we’re watching that exact immoral premise being approvingly considered by a portion of the population which has no problem with the coercive obligation of their fellow citizens to their selfish wants in the name of “fairness”.

~McQ

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104 Responses to Health Care Reform – The Moral Argument Against

  • On one side, you have people who want the care but want someone else to pay for it. They’d like to call that “fairness” because they can’t afford (or don’t want to pay) the cost of the care necessary to save their lives.
     
    This argument could be applied equally to the conservative’s desires for school vouchers.  On the same moral foundation.
    On one side, you have people who want private education but want someone else to pay for it. They’d like to call that “fairness” because they can’t afford (or don’t want to pay) the cost of the education.
    It’s the same moral argument.
     
    Even if one believes that the private entity would perform much better than the publicly funded entity.  No matter how you slice it, you’re taking money from someone to give it to someone else because they can’t afford it, or choose not to pay for it themselves.  The same moral argument.
     
    Cheers.

    • This argument could be applied equally to the conservative’s desires for school vouchers. On the same moral foundation.

      I certainly won’t disagree.

      Even if one believes that the private entity would perform much better than the publicly funded entity. No matter how you slice it, you’re taking money from someone to give it to someone else because they can’t afford it, or choose not to pay for it themselves. The same moral argument.

      Not being an advocate of publicly funded education or an Education Department at the federal level, you’ll get no argument from me.

      The difference, of course, is that in the case of education, no matter how much we like it or not, that’s established in law. The whole point of the fight in terms of health care is to keep the “same moral argument” from being ignored again.

    • Pogue, there are tons of things that are done with and without our moral approval daily that apply here the way your vouchers point applies.
      Just because we permit ourselves to be gouged at a lower cost for pet projects of local politicians and local people who have connections with government authorities that can levy these charges  (for example, I think my kids High School wasted WAY too much money on football!)  doesn’t mean we have to lay back and be raped by the high cost of trying to pay everyone else’s medical bills at the national level.
      Are you trying to say we have to do that if we think local school vouchers are okay (and by the way, I didn’t have an opinion on that, but I would tend to agree I shouldn’t be paying for it).

      • Of course it doesn’t.
         
        But leave the morality of wealth distribution out of the equation.  Unless of course, you agree that it is immoral for the state to tax my wealth only then to hand it over to a private citizen to pay for whatever they choose to.
        You need to convince others that it is inefficient for the government to run a health care system and leave the half-baked-anarcho-capitalism arguments for academics.
         
        Maybe the Republicans can cook up a health care voucher system.  You know, abandoning medicare and medicaid for a system to where people without means can receive vouchers to purchase private insurance of their choosing.
         
        Cheers.

        • But leave the morality of wealth distribution out of the equation. Unless of course, you agree that it is immoral for the state to tax my wealth only then to hand it over to a private citizen to pay for whatever they choose to.

          Been talking about this my whole life – don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. There are certainly things we can agree on that, in fact, we believe a legitimate and moral government should provide for – common defense, for instance. However, beyond that, I agree that it is quite immoral for the state to tax your wealth to hand over to private citizens to pay for whatever they choose. And like it or not, that’s a moral argument.

          Now, if your reply was to looker, never mind. If it was to me – there’s the answer.

          • It was for looker.
            But I applaud your not surprising acknowledgment that a school voucher system faces the same moral arguments that a national health care system would.  And anyone who has a modicum of principle would also have to acknowledge that.
            If we can all agree that there is a limited role for government – national security, emergency services, and a reasonable amount of regulation to protect against fraud and other abuses – then the question regarding the morality of wealth redistribution itself becomes limited and contained.  But as usual, conservatives and liberals and everyone in between, typically show up with their pet grievances and activism.  And here in this example, we have health care and education providing ample supplies for hypocrisy.  And to avoid hypocrisy, one must either embrace the morality of wealth redistribution, or condemn it wholeheartedly.
             
            If one embraces the morality of wealth redistribution for the benefit of a what they perceive to be a superior system of education, then one must also embrace the morality of wealth redistribution even if they perceive something to be an inferior system for health care.  It is the morality of wealth redistribution that is the question here, not what the efficiency would be for that wealth redistribution.
             
            Unfortunately, I cannot suffer such hypocrisy.
             
            Take for example, my neighbor.  You’ll remember, the prick with the $50k boat?  Who wants school vouchers for his five kids?  Yeah, that prick.  If he merely wanted his tax money back, and I get to have my tax money back, then he would not be referred to by me as the “prick with the $50k boat.”
            But that’s not just what he wants.  And it never is.
             
            I know, given that his house, and my house, roughly the same value in the same neighborhood, we pay roughly equal in taxes.  His income, and our income, are roughly the same too.  So I know how much he pays in taxes.  And if he got all of his property taxes back, the taxes that go for education, it would not cover private education for all five of his kids.  So, he would be taking more than what he would be putting in if he were to receive vouchers for all five of his kids.  So, others would have to foot the bill.
             
            Wealth redistribution.
            Immoral.
             
            The same goes for a family of seven with regards to a national health care system.  My prick neighbor would receive health care benefits for he and his wife and his five children vs. my wife and I – a family of two.  Now given that we pay roughly around the same taxes (but of course he would pay less because of his “dependents”, which of course already are my dependents as well because we both pay for their education), his withdraws from the public coffers would be greater than mine.
             
            Wealth redistribution.
            Immoral.
             
            Conservatives must either embrace the idea of wealth redistribution as a moral concept and accept it – school vouchers.  Or they must condemn it – no school vouchers.
             
            Cheers.
             
             
             

        • But to the extent that we’re being asked to provide the capital for this Pogue, it’s not being done solely on the premise that government will do a better job of allocating and managing the funds.  It’s being done on the basis that it’s not “Fair” that some people have medical coverage and others do not.  For every argument on the pure monetary supply and demand principles involved, there are generally 10 times that number that are based on the ‘fairness’ and ‘morality’ of our well to do society being responsible for people who need, but cannot afford, medical care coverage.
          They aren’t appealing to the banker part of the brain here, they’re making emotional appeals to the collective sense of fair play most of us were taught as children.  Under the circumstances there is no way you can divorce the morality part of this from the conversation.  We’re making a moral call here, which is what makes them so readily able to demonize anyone who disagrees with their position.
          If you disagree, they can instantly cast you as the villain who will kill granny because she can’t pay for her new liver on her own, or the wicked capitalist who will deny medical treatment to a poor family who live in a cardboard box down under the railroad bridge after having taken away their home and their dog.
          From a realistic prespective it’s a moral thing I have to acknowledge when I say I WILL not pay for that family living in the cardboard box.  I may choose to, but I shouldn’t be able to force YOU to do so even if I think you’re a wicked capitalist for not doing so.  Because we’re talking about life/death/health here, it’s a moral issue.
          On a personal level if we don’t want to pay because of the cost to ourselves, we’re making a decision that is similiar in nature to the one a government run medical system might do in refusing to extend the life of a person through an expensive treatment.  The significant difference is, in so doing we are the ones who decide we can help out by giving $5.00, but not $10.00, or we can’t help even if we’d like to.   But we force our morality on no one in so doing. In making that decision we force no one to participate.
          The government on the other hand will TAKE our money through physical coercion and replace our moral judgement with the morality of a poorly defined and frequently small constituency as represented by the opinions of the politicians who crafted the bill, and the interpretations and morality of those who constitute  the agencies they entrust with the responsibilities for enforcing it all.

          • Well that’s all fine and good, looker.  But it still doesn’t address the question of the morality of wealth redistribution regarding school vouchers.

        • There’s a far smaller moral argument for providing an education than there is for providing someone with needed medical treatment.
          By moving into your community everyone accepted the morality of the established school system mechanisms there.   When my wife and I moved here before “robin hood” (Texans will understand, others not so much) we picked a school system that was supposedly decent quality without the higher costs.  We avoided two other adjacent communities where the system was supposedly ‘better’, but would also result in a greater contribution from us via taxes.   I agree with your stand on the prick your neighbor and his vouchers, he accepted the same rules on funding when he moved in, but it’s not on the same moral plain to me.   Evil and lesser evils.
          I was born here in the US and for what I expect will be the better part of my life there was no public entitlement to health care coverage.    Suddenly the rules change based on?  A manufactured crises, painted in moral colors.
           

        • You must live in the only school district in the country where vouchers come close to the per pupil tax expenditure. As I pointed out in a previous comment, vouchers generally represent only part of the tax paid to support each pupil, and usually don’t come close to covering the cost of private schools. In most cases, therefore, people who choose vouchers actually increase the per-pupil expenditures on those students who remain in public schools. Increasing per-pupil expenditures, we are constantly told, is a good thing.

          The money has alreqady been taken for the school system. Vouchers are not increasing wealth redistribution.

    • I think the idea with vouchers is that people want to opt out of the crappy public school system, and wish to spend THEIR money on private education instead of supporting public education. Of course, people without kids pay for public education, so they should get vouchers as well.

      The immorality of public eductaion is not vouchers, per se, but the fact that people are forced to pay for services for others. That’s inherent in the existing system, and vouchers will not fix that, but they don’t cause it either.

      In short, vouchers are a flawed answer to a flawed system, but they are an improvement, since they do allow additional choice.

      • I think the idea with vouchers is that people want to opt out of the crappy public school system, and wish to spend THEIR money on private education instead of supporting public education.
         
        But it’s not always THEIR money.  More often than not, it’s MY money.  And YOURS.
        Unless of course you believe the voucher system should only benefit those who pay in taxes an equal or greater amount.  A refund, IOW.
        But that’s not what is being put out there.  The voucher idea is to give my money to anyone, taxpayers or not, wishing to use my money to pay for their children’s private education.

    • This argument could be applied equally to the conservative’s desires for school vouchers. On the same moral foundation.
      On one side, you have people who want private education but want someone else to pay for it. They’d like to call that “fairness” because they can’t afford (or don’t want to pay) the cost of the education.
      It’s the same moral argument.

      No, it’s not the same moral argument.

      First, there is no government-run health care, but there is a government run school system.

      Those arguing for vouchers are not asking the government to pay for private education; rather, they are asking the government to pay for their children’s education exactly what the government pays to educate other children. They are asking, in effect, to opt out of the government-run system and receive the same benefit that all others receive. It may or may not be a morally defensible argument, but it is not the same as saying everyone else should foot the bill for my health care.

      Now, if you’re going to argue that government shouldn’t pay for education, then the two would be on the same moral footing.

      • First, there is no government-run health care, but there is a government run school system.
         
        You’re wrong.  Medicaid is a government run health care system.

        • Sure, but I suspect the poster you responded to understood that but just worded his response poorly. Medicare, medicaid et al only cover part of the healthcare system. Socialized education is 100%, except for those who pay additional for private school, and they are still paying for the public schooling of others.

          In addition, socialized education drives up the cost of private education, by competing for teachers and reducing the number of students seeking out private education. So, those who do pay for private education pay more because of public schools.

        • No, Pogue. Medicaid is not a health care system. It’s a health insurance system. There’s no such thing as a Medicaid hospital, staffed by Medicaid employees. The closest thing to a government-run health care system would be the VA hospitals.

          But even if I accept that Medicaid is a government-run health care system, the analogy to vouchers still wouldn’t hold. For the situations to be analagous, you’d have to have a Medicaid recipient asking for the government to give him a voucher for private insurance premiums. That’s a valid parallel to school vouchers.

          So, no, you haven’t made your case that school vouchers are on the same moral footing as having everyone else pay for your health care.

          • Split hairs all you like, but it’s still a government run system.  It’s still taking money from one private citizen and giving it to another.  So your point is moot.
            There’s still the moral question of wealth redistribution, which you ignore.

    • “On one side, you have people who want private education but want someone else to pay for it. They’d like to call that “fairness” because they can’t afford (or don’t want to pay) the cost of the education.”
      If I have kids in school and want to send them to private school, a voucher is simply a way to re-appropriate my tax dollars away from what I don’t want to what I do. Otherwise I pay for both, which certainly isn’t fair.  Of course most people don’t pay in taxes what is spent on a child per year in school, so it is also a re-appropriation of other’s tax dollars too.  Personally, I don’t want ANYONE else paying for my child’s education, but a voucher is better than any other alternative right now.  I’d be happy to just have my property tax dollars back that go to public education, whatever that is.  Then I can apply that to the private costs and I’m not tossing money away.
      So, PM, not everyone wants someone else to pay.
       

      • If I have kids in school and want to send them to private school, a voucher is simply a way to re-appropriate my tax dollars away from what I don’t want to what I do.

        And if you don’t have any kids at all, what are vouchers?

        • Unavailable? No comprendo.

          • Unavailable? No comprendo.

            I believe that Bruce is pointing out (and that Pogue has also pointed out) that if you do not have children, then a voucher program is “simply a way to re-appropriate [your] tax dollars away.”

        • What’s the difference?  Those dollars are already being used for public education. A voucher just redirects them to private education.  Objecting to your taxes being spent on any education is a different issue.

  • And of course that attitude doesn’t just apply to health care. Flood insurance, automobile insurance, etc. are also subsidized because it just costs too much .  Evidently some feel that all their income should be party money, just like when they were kids and mommy and daddy took care of all the expenses and whatever they earned from mowing lawns or whatever was theirs to spend on feel-good stuff.

    • Yup – look no one is arguing this is the “first time” for this premise. Heck, we wouldn’t be in the shape we’re in if it were. I’m arguing that we’re under no obligation to allow it again just because it has been done before. The fact that it has doesn’t lessen the moral argument against.

      • My comment above was about the attitude you wrote of in the main article. The reply tags don’t seem to work well for me, and placed this out of context.

  • What you say is true, but only half the story.  The moral argument says that nobody should have to pay for someone else’s education.  However, that train has already left the station.  If the government wasn’t already taking my money to pay for children’s education, then your statement would be 100% correct. However, since they already forcibly take money away from me, supposedly to pay for my kids’ education, then why should I not get some input on how that money is spent.
     

    • I don’t know about you Clark, but I don’t accept that just because we let it happen once we’re obligated to let it happen again.

    • However, that train has already left the station.
      Well, it’s satisfying to learn that some of you guys agree that the same moral question can be applied to school vouchers.  The danger of course is, that conservatives who desire a school voucher system then lose their footing when arguing against the morality of paying for someone else’s health care.  What’s good for the goose, you understand.
      Now then you guys can concentrate on the inefficiency of socialized medicine and the morality of bureaucrats making health care decisions and leave the question of the morality of wealth redistribution on the dung heap right along with the idea of a school voucher system.
       
      However, since they already forcibly take money away from me, supposedly to pay for my kids’ education, then why should I not get some input on how that money is spent.
      Well, within the parameters of a representative democracy, you kind of already do have a say how that money is spent.
      Find out who runs your school board, and if you don’t like the way they’re spending your money, then you can attempt to vote them out of office.  Something you won’t be able to do, if they take your money and give it to a private citizen to spend it however they desire.  After all, you can’t vote them out of office.
       
      Cheers.

      • Vouchers are not the moral equivelent to socialized medicine. Public education (as a right) is the moral equivelent. Essentially, it is the public education system that’s immoral, and vouchers do not make the system any more or less moral, they just provide an additional option.

        The vote we have provides little say in public schools, if you can’t vote the bastards out your say is ~ 0. An example of the result of this is the move in education to teach “Spanish” kids in Spanish, not English, despite the opinion to the contrary of the majority of the parents of these kids.

        As far as having a say in what the voucher parent does, so what? Likely that’s largely the money he spent into the system anyway, so that should be his. I should only have a say on the money I paid into the system.

        Vouchers are only a change to an existing immoral system.

        • Likely that’s largely the money he spent into the system anyway, so that should be his. I should only have a say on the money I paid into the system.
           
          No, it’s not necessarily “likely.”
          Take for example my prick neighbor as explained above.  There is no way his tax refund would pay for all of his five kids private education.  Yet the voucher system would provide it, using my tax money as well.
          None of this escapes the moral question of wealth redistribution.

          • I’m on a role here, so I forgot to put a quotation emphasis around,
            Likely that’s largely the money he spent into the system anyway, so that should be his. I should only have a say on the money I paid into the system.

            Cheers.

          • Role?

            Role?

            How do you roll a role? ;)

          • I was so much on a roll, I missed the role.
            (See how I did that?  People just don’t learn that talent, it must be inherent. … No?  Okay, I tried anyway.  Thanks for the claryfication.)
            ;)
             
            Cheers.

          • Nah, we’re programmed to accept the Mr. Spellchecker won’t let us down!

          • Not everyone has kids. And vouchers plans usually seem to feature a fixed rebate that won’t fund 100% of the private education.

            The moral point is that tax money will either fund your neighbor’s public schooling or, if vouchers apply, some percent of his private schooling. Either way, that is wealth redistribution. Vouchers do not change that, hence they are not inherently immoral.

          • I meant to say that “not everyone has FIVE kids”.

  • Oops.  My comment #3 was supposed to be a reply to #1.  Didn’t show up there :(

  • Pogue -

    The status quo in education is a very heavily subsidized “public option” in a system where participation is mandatory.  A school voucher system still involves the subsidy, but at least it allows room for private entities to spring up and compete with the state-administered option.

    Health insurance also has the heavily subsidized “public option” already, but it hasn’t quite killed off the private market yet.  Expanding the public option, as the Democrats propose, is nothing like moving from state administration toward vouchers.

    Find out who runs your school board, and if you don’t like the way they’re spending your money, then you can attempt to vote them out of office.  Something you won’t be able to do, if they take your money and give it to a private citizen to spend it however they desire.  After all, you can’t vote them out of office.

    If a voter doesn’t like the provisions of a voucher, he can contact the school board and ask them to change the conditions of the use of that voucher.  And that may have actual consequences for a private entity, as opposed to a state-administered monopoly.  “What are you going to do if you don’t like how we teach, cut our funding?”

    • I’m not here as an advocate for the Dem’s plans for health care.  I’m simply addressing the moral concept of wealth redistribution.
      And you can string out all of the rationales for school vouchers, but none of them could possibly escape the moral question of wealth redistribution within that system.
       
      Oh, and by the way, I certainly hope you’ve had good luck and good health over the last couple of years, given that you chose not to buy health insurance,
       
      I choose to manage my health more directly. I choose to spend my money on other things, things I expect to benefit me more than insurance coverage that is very likely a losing bet.
      Bryan Pick
      7/18/07

       
      To your health, my friend.  Not only because I like you, but it would have been immoral of you to risk your health on our tax money.
       
      Cheers.

      • Again, vouchers are not immoral, because the existing system already redistributes wealth. Voucher don’t change the fact that wealth is redistributed.

        If we had a free market education system, someone suggesting vouchers would be suggesting wealth redistribution. However, in our current system wealth is already redistibuted, and vouchers simply give benificeries of that wealth redistribution more options.

        • Again, vouchers are not immoral, because the existing system already redistributes wealth.
           
          The same could be said with medicaid.  The existing system already redistributes wealth, so the question of health care reform is not a moral issue.
          Good for the goose… remember?
           
          Cheers.

          • Part of our current healthcare system involves wealth redistribution. Obama wants to make it 100%. He wants to go from a system that’s partially immoral to one that’s fully immoral.

            Vouchers would not increase the wealth redistribution of the education system. So they are morally neutral.

  • Last data I saw (several years ago) indicated that some 100,000 Canadians also had US health insurance or payed out of pocket for US health care. Vouchers are the equivelent of these Canadians recieving vouchers from Canada to cover (or partially cover) their US health care. As it is, these Canadians pay for Canadian healthcare and then pay again for quality healtcare in the US. Likewise, private school students effectively pay twice for education, through their taxes and then throught their tuition.

  • The immoral part isn’t the vouchers.  It’s the fact that they are taking my money in the first place.  As you mentioned in one of your posts, you are paying for your neighbors 5 kids education.  That’s the immoral part.  I guess I somewhat agree with you that vouchers are immoral, but only so much as my asking to get my money back from someone who robbed me is immoral :)  Maybe they should limit vouchers to how much property and sales tax I pay.  I’d be happy with that system.
    As to voting, yes, that is technically a say, but it is not a very tight feedback loop.  I do engineering for a living.  You give me a system that I am supposed to control (my kids education), but tell me that all I can do to control it is turn a knob on something only peripherally linked to my kids education (voting), and expect me to actually like the output results.  The inverted pendulum is a classic controls problem.  Give me a stick with a weight on the top, and I can get it to stand up if you let me have complete control of the platform on which it is standing.  However, voting is like trying to control an inverted pendulum which is sitting on a skateboard, which is sitting on top of a car.  You tell me to control the inverted pendulum just by switching gears.  Good luck with that.
    Sorry to make this a discussion about vouchers McQ.

    • It’s not, it’s the morality vehicle Pogue has chosen to represent the basis for either complete acceptance of wealth distribution, or rejection of ALL wealth distribution.

      • The key reason the left hates vouchers is that they provide a means of moving AWAY FROM wealth redistribution. Right here and now, we can’t make the political jump away from socialized education, but vouchers are a small step that could help find a path away from socialized education. Hell, anything that helps to reduce the teacher’s union power is a good thing.

        “No wealth redistribution in education” is not a choice we have right now. Vouchers are a step in the right direction, because they can help undermine the existing wealth redistrubtion system by underming the unions and demonstrating alternatives.

        • Right here and now, we can’t make the political jump away from socialized education, but vouchers are a small step that could help find a path away from socialized education.
           
          Wrong!!  This is something that you can’t seem to grasp.  It’s not a step away from socialized education if you’re using my tax dollars to provide choice to someone else.  It’s merely another form of socialized education.
          The moral question still remains.

          • Pouge,

            We don’t have the choice of “no wealth redistribution in education”. Not at this time.

            Vouchers would give others more choice. It would lead to less clout of the teachers union. It would allow people to see other alternative to public education. Hence it would be a step towards a possible reduction in wealth redistribution.

            The vouchers, themselves, represent the same amount of wealth distribution we currently have. But they offer a possible path towards reducing wealth redistribution.

            We pretty much have three options: accept the existing statist status quo; propose a radical libertarian reform of the system (which will fail at this time and results in the status quo); or propose a baby step that can move us in the right direction.

          • Don,
            …or propose a baby step that can move us in the right direction.
             
            How is that a step in the right direction?  Unless you are considering that only those that pay into the system as eligible to receive vouchers.  Which is not the voucher system proposed at the time.
            And to your point of a more radical libertarian system is doomed to failure, so would any system proposed to have only those that pay into the system as eligible to receive vouchers.  Resulting in the status quo.
             
            So with all due respect… and I mean that, because I get the desires by those for a more effective, accountable education system, even the morality of such a system … I fail to see it as a step in the right direction away from socialized education.
            But sometimes we must live with certain distasteful problems, but no matter how you sugar coat the idea of handing my hard earned money over to my neighbor so he can spend it how he sees fit, it still is going to taste like sh!t, and I don’t want it.
             
            I don’t want to give up my vote on how my money is spent so that my neighbor can send his kids to private school.  And I would say to my neighbor, “suck it up and sell your boat.”
             
            Cheers.

    • Sorry to make this a discussion about vouchers McQ.

      Don’t worry about it Clark – it all hits around the same point.

  • Not to agree with Pogue…heaven forbid (kidding)…. but taking money from me to pay for someone else doing anything is wealth redistribution.
    Just because I agree that public education benefits our society doesn’t mean I don’t perceive funding it as wealth redistribution.

    • What’s up with the baby steps, man!?  Don’t be afraid, come on over to the dark side.
       
      We have mini-quiches!!
       
      Heh.
      Quiche – funny thing that.  There’s the old addage that real men don’t eat quiche.  Ridiculous.  I’ve never met a man that didn’t like quiche.  I mean what’s not to like.  Eggs, cheese, … all in pie format.  I mean, c’mon.
      And with a nationalized health care system, I can eat as much as I like and not worry about the heart surgery costs later on.  I’ll just get Bryan Pick to pay for it.
      Cross your fingers, Bryan.  It’s my turn to roll the dice.
       
      Bon appetite.

  • All this discussion of the immorality of public education falls a bit flat, AS PUBLIC EDUCATION IS ENSHRINED IN A LARGE NUMBER OF STATE CONSTITUTIONS. Sorry to pop some of your bubbles, but unlike health care the CITIZENS decided that education was a RIGHT, to be provided by all citizens, whether or not you had children. So vouchers are NOT immoral, nor is education…many of us are part of social contract that binds us to providing it.

    Facts, darn pesky things…..

    • And when we ‘enshrine’ the new national health care system into the legal annals of the US, it too, shall become a ‘right’.
      Now you’re arguing like Dr. Erb.
      Enshrined in a ‘large number’ as opposed to ‘enshrined in all’ or ‘guaranteed in the bill of rights’.   Education is a gift of a generous and wise society, it’s not a right.

      • Doood, read again: State CONSTITUTION(S)…not the law, the Constitution. The fundamental law governing the social contract between the citizen of the state and its government….Can’t help you, facts pesky things…this isn’t some legal “argument” about whether or not soccer is covered by the First Amendment. It’s in the various constitutions that the state SHALL PROVIDE Public Education.

        IF, the Founding Fahters had included health care, education, or employment in the Bill of Rights, we could make the same sort of arguments. They didn’t, but in the case of public education, at the state level, the “founders” DID.

        Can’t help you or Pogue on this point. It’s not debatable, it’s written in in black and white…only the FORM of the Public Assistance can be subject to debate, not the existence of the assistance.

        • Dooood, read it again.
           
          So vouchers are NOT immoral, nor is education…many of us are part of social contract that binds us to providing it.
           
          Your argument was that socialized education was not immoral because it was “enshrined” in state constitutions.  Again, using your reasoning, anything “enshrined” in state constitutions must become moral.
           
          Clearly you didn’t think that through.

    • joe, …. always the bride’s maid…
       
      I don’t confine my perception of morality within the arbitrary government of state constitutions.
       
      By that reasoning, if a state constitution deemed abortion legal, you must consider abortion moral.  I’m guessing you wouldn’t think that abortion is moral even if a state constitution “enshrined” it legal.
      Right?

      • It’s “moral” because it’s the fundamental law of the state….it’s your social contract. YOU may believe in “Natural Law” I don’t…there is only POSITIVE LAW…God don’t give you know rights, you grant yourself rights and then you enshrine them thar rights in a fundamental document….

        It’s moral, IF your founders said, Pogue’s ancestors, and Pogue and Pogue’s DESCENDENTS will be providing for public education in Pogue’s state… Your options:
        1) move to a state without such a provision of its fundamental law; or
        2) Change your fundamental law.

        Until then you are positively and morally stuck with the bill for edju-makatin’ the l’il spawn of your neighbors.

        Can’t help you if you’re going to pull out some Beck-ish argument about how the constitution doesn’t apply as a social contract to YOU…because it’s a silly argument, meaning that anyone can do or not do anything because their “moral sense” tells them it’s Ok to do or not do so…it’s why we created law and in this case constitutions. A fairly clear-cut description of your social-legal obligations. And in many cases it’s your legal obligation to pay for the education of your fellow citizens…and because as I say its enshrined in your founding documents it is a MORAL as well as legal obligation….but I’m a Positivist. IMO arguing about the “morality” of taxation and public education is as silly as arguing about the constitutionality of the Income Tax….it makes you a whack job.

        • Riiiight.
           
          Morality is “enshrined” in constitutions, and I’m the whack job!?!
           
          Dooood, I LOVE IT WHEN YOU SHOW UP!
          You with your ALL CAPS bad self.

        • Gone to the Republic of Pogue – having it in writing may say it’s a right, but that doesn’t make it either moral or a right.
          Simple, slavery was in writing until it wasn’t.  Owning other people as farm breeding stock and farm machinery was a right enshrined in, I’ll bet,certain  State Constitutions.   It’s that simple.
          You’d be better served to acknowledge there are rights that transcend any written documentation of their existence.   As has been said here numerous times, the ability to enforce those rights, or the inability to enforce them, does not make them any less extant.

          • Gone to the Republic of Pogue – having it in writing may say it’s a right, but that doesn’t make it either moral or a right.

            That’s right — you can paint a pumpkin black but it doesn’t make it a bowling ball.

          • Come to the Republic of Pogue.
             
            Booze, drugs, women, a scoundrel’s affair.
            Daily hikes up the Big Rock Candy Mountain.
            Flights departing daily.
             
            And with apologies to old Bill, At the Republic of Pogue – What Dreams May Come; when we have shuffled off this mortal coil.
             
            Cheers.

        • It’s “moral” because it’s the fundamental law of the state…

          Yeah, I explained that type of “morality” in the body of the post, Joe – thanks for emphasizing it.

    • No matter who decides what or what is in any constitution, no man has a right to the labor of another man. Simple, really.

  • WOW…..good stuff. Gotta admit that it seems Pogue has (for once lol!) the better of it this round.

  • That is not true.  Once we start with the assumption that we need a publicly funded educational system, then vouchers are just one implementation of a publicly funded system.  There is no difference between publicly run schools and voucher schools.   It is simply a question of where the cost is allocated.   The assumption is that the voucher reduces the expense at the public school by an equal or greater amount.
     
    Now, if you are arguing we should not have  a publicly funded school system, then the concept of a voucher does not exist.
     
    Rick
     
     

    • There is no difference between publicly run schools and voucher schools.   It is simply a question of where the cost is allocated.
       
      Rick, I would argue that there is a difference in publicly run schools and voucher schools, but not now.  Now, however, the question is on the morality of using your money to pay for someone else’s health care.  The morality of wealth redistribution.
      Your argument that it is merely a difference of allocation can be strung out to almost anything.  Think about it.
      We already have a system of allocating public funds for education, ergo vouchers are no different.  We already have a system of allocating public funds for health care (medicaid), ergo nationalized health care is no different.
      Neither one of those addresses the question on the morality of income redistribution.
       
      Again, either you embrace the concept of morality in wealth redistribution, or you don’t.  You don’t get to have your quiche and eat it too.
       
      Okay.  Now I’m hungry for quiche.  Any of you guys know how to make quiche?
       
      Cheers.

      • Pouge, again, in our socialized system vouchers are neither moral nor immoral. They don’t increase wealth redistribution. If we had a free market system and someone proposed vouchers, then you would have a point, but not in the existing system.

        What you are in fact arguing is that altering a bad, immoral system into a slightly less bad, but equally immoral system is immoral. To accept that view one must also accept that one cannot modify any bad, immoral systems unless one is to modify them such that they are moral. That’s not realistic and basically concedes the field to statists. Further, it doesn’t logically follow.

        • Pouge, again, in our socialized system vouchers are neither moral nor immoral.
           
          Don, we’ve gone over this.  The voucher system would be within a socialized educational system, not altering the moral question of wealth redistribution.  Merely another form, better or worse, of socialization.
          You do not address this basic concept.  So I must assume that you deem it moral to redistribute wealth.  There is no other conclusion.
           
          Which is fine.  A lot of people see morality in the redistribution of wealth.  They accept the fact that their taxes are being used for the benefit of others, and not themselves.
          Just don’t bring it up as a reason to be against socialized health care.  Stick to the other arguments of inefficiency, etc.
           
          Now.
          Do you know how to make quiche?
           
          Cheers.

        • Reply to Pouge:

          You are correct that vouchers are not a gain from the perspecitve of reducing wealth redistribution. They are, net, status quo. But that’s not the full story.

          Vouchers can help to reduce the influence of the teachers union. They can provides choices for people, and allow them to see alternatives to the current government school system. They are a step forward in the sense that they shake things up and allow us to engage the current statist system. In short, they could lead to reduced support for government education. And we need to reduce support, before we can reform the system.

          • You’re killing me, man.
             
            Earlier it the thread you wrote this:
            No matter who decides what or what is in any constitution, no man has a right to the labor of another man. Simple, really.
             
            So, you don’t think my neighbor has a right to my labor, but yet you think it’s a good idea that he gets it.
            Phenomenal.
             
             

          • Reply to Pouge,

            No Pouge, you don’t get my point.

            Wealth redistribution is morally wrong.

            But we already engage in wealth redistribution with respect to education. Vouchers won’t change that, so they are morally neutral, at least in that regard.

            Vouchers have other values, which make them superior to the existing system, even though they do not fix the moral failure of wealth redistribution.

          • Reply to Pouge
             
            Okay, Don.  Once, twice, even three times may be discounted as a mistake.   But it’s clear you intend on misspelling my nickname.
            Don’t worry about it, “pouge” won’t be responding to you any longer.
             
            You win, Douchebag.

          • You getting mad about spelling?

            Heh…Ah the irony. Sweet, sweet irony. ;)

          • Well, typically I only call out someone’s mistakes when they make mistakes in the course of insulting someone else.  Someone who is pissing on someone else better make sure they dot their i’s and cross their t’s lest they look the fool.
            Besides, who’s mad?
             
            I’m sure you wouldn’t be annoyed if someone was intentionally misspelling your name.  Isn’t that right, Bruce McCain?
             
            Bruce McCain.  That’s got quite a ring to it.
             
            Bruce McCain.
            Bruce McCain.
            Bruce McCain.
             
            Nah, that won’t get annoying.  Will it?   ;)
             
            Cheers.

          • Nah … I’ve been called much worse. But thanks for the claryfication And have one for me – I’m getting ready to have my nightcap Macallen.

  • Except, Bruce, that Pogue is setting up a total strawman argument. No one is under any obligation to skimp on his children’s education to provide for someone else’s. Instead of taxing everyone to pay for mediocre education, why not let each family with children keep the money and provide education themselves, either through homeschooling or through voluntary association.
     
    If Mr and Mrs Gotrocks want to contribute to the Catholic (or Atheist) scholarship fund to provide for extra slots, more power to them. They should be applauded by us all. (Of course, their reward in Heaven might decrease; Christ was very clear that those who were charitable in secret were regarded more highly by God. Christ also didn’t mention the idea that charity could be accomplished by robbing the Samaritan at government gunpoint.)
     

    • Except, Bruce, that Pogue is setting up a total strawman argument. No one is under any obligation to skimp on his children’s education to provide for someone else’s.

      I don’t believe that’s his point, SDN.

    • Strawman?  Heh.
      You conveniently ignore the fact that not everyone in this system pays into it.
       
      Is it a dog eat dog world to you?  Every man for himself?  F*ck you if you don’t have the means to pay for your children’s education?  And both parents have to work so there isn’t anything like home schooling?
      It’d be nice if that were true, that everyone has the means to educate their children through one form or another.  But they don’t.  And the voucher system proposed makes no distinction as you do.
       
      Anarcho-capitalism.  For sale.  By SDN.  Product of homeschooling.
      Tell me, did you sell lemonade or sh!t sandwiches by the roadside as a kid?  People want lemonade, man.  Not sh!t sandwiches.
       
       
       
      And like others, you ignore the question on the morality of the redistribution of wealth.

  • looker, having been raised by a fourth grade schoolteacher, I wasn’t allowed to depend on a spell checker.

  • can’t remember if it was a voucher system or a state funded charter school but in one of the scenarios the state actually contributed less per child than it would have in the publich school system.

  • We have a tendency in America to argue for or against a concept based on our own personal philosophy or view of the world, what advances our personal interests, or the interests of our party, family, organization, or region. Perhaps viewing the issue from a management or systemic perspective might result in innovative approaches to the issue. The American national mindset, citizen philosophy, lack of citizen motivation to be proactively healthy, and governance model make the socialization of health care in America very problematic, particularly at this point in time.

    http://tinyurl.com/nsxqu6- A country needs to know its limitations.

  • I get it.
    My tax money is stolen to provide roads I don’t drive on, bridges I never cross, parks and recreation facilities I never use, etc. The whole system is immoral.
    Oh, the horror! Trapped in a republican, majority rule H*ll with no escape!

    Obviously I would make a lousy Libertarian.

  • Pogue -

    And you can string out all of the rationales for school vouchers, but none of them could possibly escape the moral question of wealth redistribution within that system.

    Nor can a public-administered system.  School vouchers are an improvement on the existing system, and that’s the salient fact to me.  I’m all for steps in the right direction.

    Oh, and by the way, I certainly hope you’ve had good luck and good health over the last couple of years, given that you chose not to buy health insurance,

    Yes, I’ve had both good luck and good health.  Turns out that keeping a good diet, getting a bit of exercise and otherwise maintaining a low-risk lifestyle has treated me well.  I’ve used the money I saved to feed myself, repay debts, relocate for a great job, and live in a very nice house in a nice quiet neighborhood.  Thanks for asking.

    I may get catastrophic health insurance fairly soon, but for the moment I’m building up my liquid savings.

    To your health, my friend.  Not only because I like you, but it would have been immoral of you to risk your health on our tax money.

    Let me be clear: when the state makes it costly to insure against their interventions, I don’t hold people responsible for simply living their lives.  I don’t blame motorcycle drivers for increasing the likelihood that the state will spend tax money scraping them off the road, and I don’t expect everyone to drive the highest safety-rated vehicle on the market.  I use public roads, even knowing that I contribute to the wear and tear that will eventually bring out a state-funded paver.

    I want to mind my own business, and I don’t resent anyone else who generally tries to do the same.

    It may also be helpful to note that I didn’t arrive at neolibertarianism on natural-rights grounds (though I do argue from that framework from time to time, maybe just to see how far I can take it).  It was more complicated for me — perhaps a mix of believing that neolibertarianism is:

    • the best path for survival and personal fulfillment, for me and those I care about,
    • the most practical way of dealing with the technological, economic and strategic challenges our country will face, and
    • a good fit for my personal ethics.

    Hard to say, really.

    Cheers.

    • Nor can a public-administered system.  School vouchers are an improvement on the existing system, and that’s the salient fact to me.  I’m all for steps in the right direction.
       
      Just because it’s a step in another direction doesn’t mean it’s a step in the right direction.  It’s still the transfer of wealth by coercion.  It’s still handing my money to another private citizen so they can spend it how they want.
      And you, like many others here, conveniently ignore such annoying little facts.
       
      Again, it’s just another form of socialized education.  It just happens to be a form of socialized education you prefer.  It happens to be a transfer of wealth you want.  You want your bread buttered on this side, but not the other.
      And it doesn’t matter that you perceive it to be a superior system of socialized education over the system of socialized education we have now, it’s still socialized education.  And if you find that particular wealth redistribution morally acceptable, it leaves you little room to argue against the morality of other wealth redistribution.
       
      Either you accept the concept of morality in the redistribution of wealth by coercion, or you don’t.  It’s really just that simple.
       
      And I find it particularly hilarious that you’re the one here that doesn’t have health insurance.  You’re behaving like an irresponsible little brat.
       
      I may get catastrophic health insurance fairly soon, but for the moment I’m building up my liquid savings.
       
      Well that’s nice to hear.  How happy I am for you that you are able to save some money and spend some where you want.  Must be nice.  I certainly would like to take a trip abroad every year, but you know… that $6k is being tied up right now in health insurance. Why?  Because I’m not behaving like an irresponsible little brat and risking my health care costs on the taxpayer.
      Unlike you.
       
      About fifteen years ago, my friend was in what should have a been fatal car crash.  But miraculously, the doctors were able to save his life and he spend weeks in intensive care.  It ended up costing half a million dollars.  He didn’t have health insurance, so guess who paid for it.
      So don’t give me this BS about diet and exercise.  My friend was in tip-top shape too.
      Also, don’t give me this BS about how you wouldn’t burden the tax payer if you ever found yourself in a similar situation.  Imagine you screaming at the paramedics…
      NO!  DON’T DO IT!! Leave me here to die… don’t you see, I’ll end up costing the tax payers… NOOOoooo.”
      Hardly.  Let’s just hope you don’t ever have to prove your hypocrisy.
       
      Do us all a favor, do the responsible thing, and get yourself some health insurance, yungin’.
      Because if you believe your youth with diet and exercise makes you invulnerable, then you are as naive as your youthful age would suggest you are.
       
      Cheers.

  • McQuain said this: “Would we accept the idea the government has a moral right to take our money to pay for his roof?”
    Ain’t been to hurricane ridden south Florida in awhile, eh?
    I know several people that had their entire roofs removed by hurricane Charlie and they paid not one cent for the new replacement.
    Crist & Co. are playing games with other peoples money and its a game where everybody loses, cept Crist & Co.
    As long as you play THEIR game you will lose for THEY write the rules and change them at once without notifying you in advance.
    You can’t become a victim of the shell game if you just walk away.
    Course, I wouldn’t chastize you if you put an ounce of lead dead center in the skull of the shell shuffler……
     

  • Pogue -

    Just because it’s a step in another direction doesn’t mean it’s a step in the right direction.  It’s still the transfer of wealth by coercion.  It’s still handing my money to another private citizen so they can spend it how they want.
    And you, like many others here, conveniently ignore such annoying little facts.

    I haven’t ignored it.  I’ve said right up front what it is.

    And it’s a step in the right direction for several reasons, not least of which is that it can be done far cheaper than sending a kid to a public school.  Therefore, we can have less transfer of wealth by coercion.  The fact that it also tends to provide a superior education for the kids who are worst-served by our current school system (kids in the bottom half of the test-score distribution and African-American students see the biggest improvements, based on the pilot-program research I’ve seen) makes it even better–we’re getting more for less.

    Jeez, for slinging around the word “brat”, you didn’t even bother to ask me why I prefer vouchers to state-administered schools.

    “I may get catastrophic health insurance fairly soon, but for the moment I’m building up my liquid savings.

    Well that’s nice to hear.  How happy I am for you that you are able to save some money and spend some where you want.  Must be nice.  I certainly would like to take a trip abroad every year [...]

    You make it sound like I’m blowing a bunch of money on restaurants and entertainment and trips abroad.  I’m not.  And by the way, liquid savings come in handy in a lot of situations that might otherwise “invite” state intervention.

    [...] but you know… that $6k is being tied up right now in health insurance. Why?  Because I’m not behaving like an irresponsible little brat and risking my health care costs on the taxpayer.
    Unlike you.

    We’ve been through this before, in my post on the subject.

    By the way, you never answered Steverino’s question in those comments: do you carry umbrella liability coverage, in case you cause harm to someone that you’re not able to pay for?  I’d hate to think you’re being cavalier about the possibility that the state might pick up the tab for your irresponsibility.

    [Edit: You also didn't comment on the part about driving on public roads, despite the sure knowledge that you're contributing to the wear-and-tear that will eventually bring out a state-funded paver.]

    (This is what you get for trying to make this a black-and-white moral issue.)

    Look, nobody can completely insure themselves against the possibility that the state will intervene on their behalf.  Sure, I might show up in a trauma center unconscious and not wake up, and the doctors might bill the state.  Or I might regain consciousness, but be unable to continue my work so that I can make good on the costs (though I work from home, so it’s quite undemanding physically).  These things are highly unlikely, but possible.

    You have repeatedly mistaken my assured knowledge of my low risk profile for a carefree attitude.  I recognize there’s a risk I could get hurt, and that weighs on my mind and discourages me from taking risks to my health.  Though all the available evidence suggests I’m likely to remain healthy, I’m aware that bad things can happen to anyone.

    But lots of people accept risk to life and limb.  Some people do it as part of a job and they’re compensated for it.  Others take those risks for fun, and accept liability.  Why shouldn’t they, and I, be allowed to do so?

    If you personally believe we shouldn’t be on the hook when people take risks and get burned, then you shouldn’t treat people who try to accept personal liability as irresponsible.  Your ire should be directed fully at the state and people who you know have turned to the state or intend to do so, not at people who you assume will be hypocrites if the sh*t hits the fan.

    Is there some other excuse for you being a condescending jerk towards me, or does that cover it?

    [Edit 2: This:

    Because if you believe your youth with diet and exercise makes you invulnerable, then you are as naive as your youthful age would suggest you are.

    ... really tests my patience, especially since I've told you repeatedly that I don't consider myself invulnerable. In the future, I will disemvowel or delete your posts that cross the line into personal attacks.]

    • I haven’t ignored it.  I’ve said right up front what it is.
      And it’s a step in the right direction for several reasons, …
       
      I don’t care about those reasons.  Not for the purposes of this discussion.  Hell, it might just be the most brilliant plan ever imagined.  But it’s still socialized education, you just can’t get around that.  And even if I accepted your reasons and acknowledged this to be a better plan, it merely changes it to a socialized educational system that works better.
      Oh, and you may have recognized it to be a socialized education plan, but you have not addressed the core question regarding socialized health care or education.  We’ll try it once more,
       
      Do you accept the concept of morality in the redistribution of wealth???
       
      If you answer no, then you must also acknowledge a socialized educational system, voucher or otherwise, as inherently immoral.  It matters not that you think one plan will work better than the other.
      If you answer yes, then you’re just left with how to best implement such redistribution.  And all subsequent arguments that a socialized health care system would be immoral on the basis of wealth redistribution fall flat.
      It’s okay, Bryan.  You can answer that.  You can say, “yes, and I believe this health care plan would suck.”  You can say, “no, it’s immoral, but the voucher plan would be a better plan than the one we have now.”  But what you don’t get to do, is have it both ways.  Questions of morality are most often black and white.
       
      You make it sound like I’m blowing a bunch of money on restaurants and entertainment and trips abroad.
       
      I could care less how you spend your money.  But it is irresponsible not to have health insurance.  As I’m sure you’ve read the old thread again, you must have seen many others there that think as I do.
      It’s okay to be young and irresponsible.  For the most part, it’s what being young is all about.  When I was young, I was also irresponsible.  I didn’t have health insurance until age 31.  And I was fortunate to escape any major accidents or illnesses, unlike my friend who almost died in a car accident.  It was unfortunate for him, and it was also unfortunate for the tax payer.
      I’m sorry if you read that as condescending, it’s just how I feel.
       
      And btw, you can edit or delete my comments as you see fit, Bryan.  But I’m not about to change the way I write.  If I believe I’ve crossed the line, then I will apologize for it.  I know I’ve done so a couple of times in the past.
       
      And to answer your other questions.
      I carry full coverage insurance on all of my vehicles, including liability.
      I carry a $1,000,000 liability insurance on my business.  And yes, it covers both harm to persons and property, for me and my employees.
      I pay vehicle registrations for three vehicles and two trailers, which is supposed to cover road construction.  Not to mention the couple of hundred dollars I pay every year for toll roads.
       
      In my mind, that pretty much covers any major harm that may come to persons or property at my hand, or that I may be held responsible for.  All other conceivable scenarios I think I have the means to cover any damage.  You know, I once dinged a guys fender with a runaway shopping cart…  I paid for the repair, though.  I once ruined a library book by accident…  I paid for that too.
       
      Cheers.

  • By the way, anyone know why I’d be having trouble using the threaded “Reply” feature?  Every time I click “Reply” to someone’s comment and submit, it shows up way down near the bottom of the page, not indented at all.

    I’m using Firefox 3.5.  Anyone?

  • I am not for distributing my wealth more than anyone else, but if it is then I want to know it isn’t being wasted and that is exactly what this government run healthcare plan will do.  Massive waste, and fraud
     
    God, no one has even read it and the president is demanding (not asking) that people pass it without reading it.  And even then they are marking it up and changing it.  Who the hell signs a bill/contract/agreement like that?  No one with half a brain.
     
    I guess that some people will say that we should just trust the Admin to do the right thing.  Yeah right, what could go wrong with that.  snort

  • “It’s ‘moral’ because it’s the fundamental law of the state…”
     
    Really: isn’t it time for this fool’s pals around here to cast him over the side with a modest supply of food & water?
     

  • Pogue –

    I don’t care about those reasons.  Not for the purposes of this discussion.  Hell, it might just be the most brilliant plan ever imagined.  But it’s still socialized education, you just can’t get around that.

    [...]

    Oh, and you may have recognized it to be a socialized education plan, but you have not addressed the core question regarding socialized health care or education.  We’ll try it once more,

    Do you accept the concept of morality in the redistribution of wealth???

    If you answer no, then you must also acknowledge a socialized educational system, voucher or otherwise, as inherently immoral.  It matters not that you think one plan will work better than the other.

    [...]

    You can say, “no, it’s immoral, but the voucher plan would be a better plan than the one we have now.”  But what you don’t get to do, is have it both ways.

    As I keep repeating, I don’t need to get around it, and I’m not trying to have it both ways.  The “core question” is moot, because I’ve never argued that vouchers are 100% moral or perfect.

    Vouchers are better than a state-built, state-administered school with state employees.  They are an improvement on the current system, and that’s all “this discussion,” or any real-world policy, is about: better or worse.  If vouchers are still immoral by a given standard, we can deal with that in due time.

    Your argument sounds like this:

    • Is wealth redistribution bad?  Yes or no.
    • Well, currently X is redistributing $100, and you support moving toward Policy Y which would involve less redistribution, better outcomes for the money, and finer control over the money by many people who are themselves being taxed.
    • Now, currently Z is redistributing $200 and wants to take another $50 on top of that.  You can’t very well argue against that, since you support Policy Y, which still involves redistribution!

    What distinguishes your argument from the formula above?

    You make it sound like I’m blowing a bunch of money on restaurants and entertainment and trips abroad.

    I could care less how you spend your money.  But it is irresponsible not to have health insurance.  As I’m sure you’ve read the old thread again, you must have seen many others there that think as I do.

    Yes, clearly you could care less how I spend my money, because you’re calling me irresponsible for not spending my wealth to save other people from the risk of state intervention.  You’re going so far as to call me diminutive, patronizing names like “yungin” and “little brat.”  You say, “I’m sorry if you read that as condescending, it’s just how I feel.”  Well, it’s not a matter of interpretation, and your sincerity is beside the point.  It’s rude and it doesn’t help the discussion.

    And if you’ve read the old thread again, you’ve seen that several others think as I do.

    I see you have liability coverage on your cars and business.  That’s fine — I have liability on my car insurance, too.  But you still don’t carry umbrella liability.  You may be confident that you won’t incur costs you can’t handle, but you’re not content to let me off for having the same confidence, so I suppose you fail to live up to your own standard.

    I will say I’m satisfied with your answer about vehicle registration paying for road construction.  Perhaps you generally pay at least as much in taxes as the state pays to clean up after you.  I can’t fault you for that.

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
    Billy Beck –

    “It’s ‘moral’ because it’s the fundamental law of the state…”

    Really: isn’t it time for this fool’s pals around here to cast him over the side with a modest supply of food & water?

    Agreed, although I’d prefer he be provided with a compass and the proper heading to reach America. Now, who are Joe’s pals?

    • What distinguishes your argument from the formula above?
       
      WTF???
      None of that is my argument.  That’s your argument.
       
      Well, currently X is redistributing $100, and you support moving toward Policy Y which would involve less redistribution, better outcomes for the money, and finer control over the money by many people who are themselves being taxed.
       
      What the hell is this?  This is your belief of what policy X, Y, and Z has to be.  It has nothing to do with the question at hand.
      Once again, we’re talking about the morality of wealth redistribution.  Not what you believe would be the better way to redistribute that wealth.
      Forget policy X, Y, or Z just for a minute.  And ask yourself this question.
      Is there a concept for morality in the coerced redistribution of wealth?
       
      One doesn’t have to damn all perceived fixes to any given policy just by admitting one way or the other.  It does, however, make it much more difficult to use the argument of the immorality of wealth redistribution for policy X, if one accepts the morality of wealth redistribution for policy Y.  And again, before you go throwing imaginary numbers at me, it doesn’t matter what you perceive to be the better policy, not for this question.
      This is a philosophical question.  This is a question of logic.
       
      Take it, leave it, no matter.  I’ve explained this to the best of my ability.
       
       
      You’re going so far as to call me diminutive, patronizing names like “yungin” and “little brat.”
       
      Oh, stop whining.
      This is a blog comments section.  There is condescension littered throughout these comments sections by lots of different, frequent commenters.  Joe, looker, shark, etc…  They all do it all the time.  Hell, just a few days ago, McQ called someone on another thread “sparky” or some such.  In fact, he does it all the time.  He’s called me a number of different names, as I do to him, I don’t take it personally, and neither does he.
      Lighten up, Bryan, it’s not personal.
       
      Just imagine that this is a gentleman’s club, and we’re all sitting around sipping single malt and smokin’ big cigars.  And we talk politics and current events all the while throwing petty little insults to each other.  That is club QandO.  Been that way ever since I first started reading it in 2004.  All that’s missing is the sign reading, “NO FAT CHICKS.”  (with apologies to all of you full bodied gals out there, I’m just joking, don’t take it personally, I don’t wanna appear to be rude.  Hell… I love fat chicks…  More to grab onto… Dammit, there I go again… I’m so sorry)
       
      Cheers, Sparky.  ;)

      • Club QandO – I only has one question (and given your moniker…it’s loaded) – are they letting in the Irish (even us bog-trotting ones with lace curtain pretensions?)
         

  • Pogue –

    One doesn’t have to damn all perceived fixes to any given policy just by admitting one way or the other.  It does, however, make it much more difficult to use the argument of the immorality of wealth redistribution for policy X, if one accepts the morality of wealth redistribution for policy Y.

    The reason I brought it up is that if a person believes that wealth redistribution is immoral, and the status quo is lots of wealth redistribution, it does not follow that he must condemn a switch from the status quo to an equally or less redistributive policy.

    The status quo in education is a heavily subsidized system administered by the state.  If one believes that wealth redistribution is immoral, and believes that school vouchers would result in less redistribution, he makes that switch.

    The status quo in medical insurance is a heavily subsidized system, too.  If one believes that wealth redistribution is immoral, and believes that the Democrats’ plan is to increase the redistribution, then he doesn’t make that switch.

    So answering the question of whether he believes that redistribution is immoral is completely moot — it doesn’t complicate his argument either way.

    That is why my X-Y-Z formula above applies to your argument.  You say it’s a question of logic, and I agree.  There’s your logic.

    Oh, stop whining.
    This is a blog comments section.  There is condescension littered throughout these comments sections by lots of different, frequent commenters. [...] Lighten up, Bryan, it’s not personal.

    If bringing up my personal choice not to buy health insurance and using my youth to undermine my credibility isn’t personal, then what is?

    Look, it’s not like I’m scandalized by it—hanging with my friends has given me very thick skin, and I’m not lacking for confidence—but if I take the time to comment, I don’t want to deal with mockery, speculation on my motives and personal attacks.  I try to observe the same rules when dealing with everyone I debate, because those three things blow the signal:noise ratio all to hell, even if it’s meant in good fun, and if I’m not getting the signal, I start getting impatient and irritated.

    I’m not going to apply this rule with everyone, because I don’t have to time to moderate the whole comment section and I know that some people enjoy that banter.  Just please do me the courtesy of avoiding it when dealing with me, or I’ll just ruin all the fun.  I don’t do the cigars/liquor thing.

  • I think the constant use of the term “moral” and “right” etc. are misleading in this article.  Namely speaking, as a community we are obligated to help our neighbor.  That is the actual moral correctitude at work here, if you want to get down into it.  Moral utility would show that if we are all making money, then that money has a moral obligation to help those in need around us for the betterment of our community.  Your right to spend money on a frivolous item for your own enjoyment or recreation is definitely a necessary thing to note.  However, again if you are going to make the issue an issue of ethical absolutism, then you have a duty to help those around you who are in need, far more than you need a jet ski (arbitrary item of choice).  If you want to make this an issue of economics and free market politics, then yeah forget everyone else and your money is your money.  But if, as you have, this is supposed to be about ethical applications, then in fact it is more ethical for you to help fix your neighbor’s roof, than not to.

    • We are obligated only voluntarily. We can only be obligated otherwise by force.

      Which is “moral” to you? Which do you think would be consistent with your human rights and which would violate them?

  • Actually the obligation, again from a supposedly ethical standpoint, is fundamental.  The obligation is a built in part of being part of a community, and the ethical promise that you’ll take benefits from the community and when the community needs you, you’ll stand by it too.  There is not any necessitation of force.  You have the “option” to ignore your duty, sure, that is everyone’s prerogative.  But that is not the argument I am making.  The argument I am making is specifically against the original point which is that it is unethical to expect people to support their community.  Ethically, a community should help its fellow constituents so that the health and security of the community is maintained.  There is no coercion, it’s simple utilitarian duty.  Again, if you want to make the argument squarely from a “It’s my frickin’ money, back off,” that is another issue entirely.

    • The only fundamental part of the obligation you describe is whether or not the person you’re trying to obligate agrees. If he or she doesn’t you have to resort to force to make them, don’t you?

      And that destroys the argument you’re making. It is quite ethical for people to support the community – if they choose to do so. It is just as ethical, however, to choose not too. You have absolutely no right, for instance, to obligate a health care provider’s time and skills in ways they don’t agree too or for wages they find unacceptable. Given that, you’re again left using force to make it happen, aren’t you? Describe the ethics/morality of that option in terms of “obligation” to a “community”.

  • No, the fundamental obligation is that as a member of the community, you partake of its benefits and security and hence it is a duty (moral obligation) to do the same for the community when another member is in need.  It is a duty of the individual to do so, i.e. the ethical response.  Certain situations in life present the option between being an option to help someone, and when it is an obligatory duty that can not be morally shirked.  For example, you’re walking by a person asking for spare change, in which it is simply an option.  It’s “more” right to help them, but it is not a duty.  However, in the case of your neighbor’s roof, it is a duty because well it’s your neighbor and they are in great need and you have the capability to help them.  The choice is a choice because you have the free will to ignore a duty, but that is unethical, as I stated previously.
    The pure and simple reason it is unethical is because it is ignoring the needs of the greater community, for your own desires which are not necessary or imminently important.  The utility of the community is compromised by its constituents not willing to support it.  Hence there is more damage to people around you (and ultimately yourself), and others suffer through a situation which was unnecessarily extended.  There never need be force, as the community will simply destroy itself if its constituents decide that they don’t want to help each other and eventually become a situation of individuals located near each other rather than a community.  There is no “force” involved.  It is barely even implied.  In fact it is more accurately a priori in the sense of community itself.
    So again, if you want to say that as a free market and capitalist situation, that it can not be expected, then that is one issue.  But the moral argument against it, fails horribly.  It is almost definitely immoral from the position of humans living together in a community (and in a greater sense, society and culture et al).

    • No, the fundamental obligation is that as a member of the community, you partake of its benefits and security and hence it is a duty (moral obligation) to do the same for the community when another member is in need.

      That’s not a “fundamental obligation”, that’s an invitation to be enslaved by the community depending on your status. “Well we provided this so you’re obligated to this”.

      Certain situations in life present the option between being an option to help someone, and when it is an obligatory duty that can not be morally shirked. For example, you’re walking by a person asking for spare change, in which it is simply an option. It’s “more” right to help them, but it is not a duty. However, in the case of your neighbor’s roof, it is a duty because well it’s your neighbor and they are in great need and you have the capability to help them.

      I am no more obligated to put a roof on my neighbor’s house than you are to buy me a car because mine won’t run and I need one to work. That’s an absurd notion that has no basis in this country’s society. The same goes for telling a doctor he must work for x pay. He isn’t obligated to do that. What you’re trying very hard, but unconvincingly, to do is create such a obligation and call it moral. There is no right to the work, time or abilities of someone else. Those things belong to the individual alone. The only way you can obligate them – and this is a point you continue to duck – is by force. I’ll ask again – how moral is an obligation incurred that way?

      The pure and simple reason it is unethical is because it is ignoring the needs of the greater community, for your own desires which are not necessary or imminently important.

      Says who and by what right? A community is a creation of individuals. What you’re trying to establish is some collection of individuals band together and by force set arbitrary obligations to that “community” that somehow make you duty bound to agree and fulfill them whether you agree or not. Nonsense. You can certainly do that (and yes it is done all the time) – but that doesn’t make it either moral or ethical and especially when you realize that the only way that it works is to use force.

      Friederich Hayek defined freedom as “the absence of coercion”. What you are describing is the antithesis of freedom.

      The rest of your comment is nice academic boilerplate but the fact remains that force is the key component to what you suggest is both “moral” and “ethical”.