Misguided Compassion

From the article Wrong About Rights by Terrell Clemmons from Salvo issue 18. You should read the whole thing, but see this excerpt below and you’ll get the idea.


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The kicker about redistributive programs is that they operate by inherent injustice. Economist Ben O’Neill of the University of New South Wales elucidates:

Since the program of social justice inevitably involves claims for government provision of goods, paid for through the efforts of others, the term actually refers to an intention to use force to acquire one’s desires. Not to earn desirable goods by rational thought and action, production and voluntary exchange, but to go in there and forcibly take goods from those who can supply them! (“The Injustice of Social Justice,” posted on Mises.org, March 16, 2011)

In most settings, forcible taking is called “theft,” yet much of what flies under the banner of social justice does exactly this.

State Programs Fail

But, well-meaning people will ask, shouldn’t we help the poor among us? Indeed we should, but the question to consider is whether doing so primarily through the government is effective.

Social entitlement programs are championed on the premise that government, being bigger and having access to greater resources than individuals and private groups, is in a better position to help the poor. But is that premise borne out in reality? To find out, the World Bank commissioned a study of more than one hundred countries over a thirty-year period. In the final report, On the Relevance of Freedom and Entitlement in Development, published in May 2011, the researchers concluded unequivocally that entitlement-oriented paradigms do not generate prosperity:

These results tend to support earlier findings that . . . the expansion of the state to provide for various entitlements, including so-called economic, social, and cultural rights, may not make people richer in the long run and may even make them poorer.

Thus, while it may seem expedient for a society to collectively work to alleviate poverty through government agency, in reality this approach does not work.

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