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Moore & Stossel

Via Bruce, I found a story about an interview with Michael Moore by John Stossel on his movie “Sicko”.  One thing I’ve always hated about Moore is how he presents his arguments, which is how I’ve often feel when talking to people of the more extreme left.  It’s probably not surprise to anyone that I don’t support an expansive welfare state, but nor do I buy that libertarian line that we can solve our social problems with private charity.  I do think private charity has a role, but there are good reasons for there to be some (albeit minimal, and not necessarily federal) government sponsored safety net.  The primary reasons are:

  • Although safety nets allow people to freeload, they also allow people to take risks without having to worry about becoming destitute.
  • They free people from the burdens of their families and communities.  A lot of conservatives are probably opposed to these policies for exactly this reason, but family and community ties, if they are especially strong, can arguably result in loss of freedom.   Think Iraq, where family comes first, and tribe comes second.
  • We’re an incredibly wealthy society, and we can provide safety nets without creating undue burdens on taxpayers.  Our tax rates are high now in large part because we’re providing universal social insurance, without much regard to need.

That’s why I get pissed off at folks like Michael Moore, who suggest the solution to people not being able to afford health insurance is to create another universal benefit without any means testing.  I don’t need the government to provide me with health care; I can do it on my own.  I also get pissed when they suggest that I’m a selfish, heartless bastard for thinking I pay too much in taxes to government.  I’m fine with the government providing some safety nets, as long as taxes stay reasonable.  European levels of taxation are not reasonable.   Our current levels of taxation are not reasonable.  I’d like to see what they could be if we rejected this idea of universal benefits, and instead only focused on the people who need it.

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