Thursday, July 20, 2017

"Society is not a family, Government is not a parent."

Here's a thoughtful offering. It's from an Economics Professor. Imagine if we had academics in New Zealand who prescribed to these views.

"...when the government takes on the role of “parent” or ‘big brother” and takes responsibility for all such things, it weakens the personal and familial senses of duty and obligation most people in a free society would ethically and voluntarily feel “the right thing to do” to help, handle and work out with others in the narrower or wider circle of actual relatives."

There was however a time in NZ when the law forced sometimes even distant family members to take financial responsibility for indigent relatives. Not sure I am comfortable with that either. But the pendulum has certainly swung way too far towards state involvement in matters they should keep out of.

People in the interventionist-welfare state soon are desensitized and even dehumanized to these matters. After all, “isn’t that what government is for?” Besides, “I’ve paid my taxes” to pay for those “social services.” And, in addition, “shouldn’t that be left up to the qualified experts in the government who know how to handle these things?”

Now that rings a bell.



Kiwiwit said...

What you describe is the difference between the Elizabethan Poor Laws in England and the 19th Century version. Elizabeth I made the aristocracy, gentry and church take responsibility for the poor in their districts, whereas the 1834 law gave the state the primary responsibility for social welfare. Contrary to accepted wisdom, the 1834 law was the cause of the poverty that was highlighted by writers such as Dickens in the mid-19th Century because it destroyed the welfare systems that had been in place since the 16th Century. It also split families by putting fathers into workhouses and the mothers and children into poorhouses rather than leaving them in their communities where friends and relatives could help. This effect of breaking up families is, of course, a characteristic of government welfare programmes that survives today.

Redbaiter said...

The Swiss have a pretty good answer to welfare. It is far more of a personal matter, with single mothers for example receiving their welfare cheque not from a monolithic govt dept, but from the people in the same village as them. Here's an excerpt from a recent Spectator article-

In Britain, 46 per cent of our children are born out of wedlock. In Switzerland the figure is where ours was 25 years ago, vastly lower at 16 per cent.

So what happens if you are, say, a young mother in Switzerland with a little baby but no husband or similar on the scene and nowhere to live? There is no countrywide answer to this question because it is not dealt with on a national basis. It is not even dealt with by one of the 26 cantons. It is dealt with by your local commune. There are 2,900 of these and their population can be anything from 30 to 10,000 or more.

Officials from this ultra-small local government will come and investigate your individual circumstances. The father will be expected to pay. The mother’s family, if it is in a position to, will be expected to house and pay for her. As a last resort, the young mother will be given assistance by the commune.

But the people who pay the local commune taxes will be paying part of the cost. You can imagine that they will not be thrilled at paying for a birth or separation that need never have taken place. Putting yourself in the position of the mother — and perhaps the father — you can imagine that you will be embarrassed as you pass people in the street who are paying for your baby.

Instead of feeling you have impersonal legal rights, as in Britain, you are taking money from people you might meet at your local café. No wonder unmarried parenting is less common.

Such a system would disadvantage the left, who we all know use welfare as a means to political power, so this probably explains why such a system has never been put to use in NZ.

The Swiss have the same approach to all of their welfare schemes. The article is here.