September 14, 2011
Tax the Poor, Eat the Rich

And now we confront another sacred cow of the left: it's expensive to be poor in America. And in truth it is, for specific kinds of poor people. Which sorts? Even the author can't get around who we're really talking about:

[T]hese are people who’ve messed up their relationship with a bank. They’ve bounced so many checks that no bank wants them as a customer. Or they’ve racked up so many fees they have dug too expensive a hole from which to escape.

There are also the "[R]oughly 50 million Americans [who] have a credit score below 600."

Of course, to the liberal mind, people who's choices are constrained have no real choice at all. This is held to be true even if the constraints are imposed by that person's own behavior. That's right, folks, if someone is poor it is the fault of society at large, not the poor wretch who kites the check. And, since we're society, it of course becomes our responsibility to fix it.

Because this person could only choose from a constrained set of (mostly bad) choices, the proper course is not to educate them in how to choose the best from a bad lot, but to somehow open up their range of choices to ensure they have the same opportunities as everyone else.

So, well, what's the problem? Isn't maximizing opportunity a noble, obviously good goal? Well yes, except the noble principle hides the hard facts. At no real point is any consideration given as to how best to go about implementing this principle. It completely ignores that such an implementation must be made through people, often the same people who are already predisposed to make bad decisions no matter how many options are open to them.

But it's worse than that. By removing personal responsibility from the equation, we dehumanize the very person we want to help. This is not a problem faced by a person, it's a problem imposed by society. This person has no chance to help themselves, they must depend on the power of the state instead. And therein lies one of the darkest unconsidered evils of modern liberalism and the progressives who practice it... dependency.

By starting out with the first, seemingly noble, principle that a constrained choice is no choice at all, we are logically and inexorably drawn to solutions which cannot help but create dependency. This, most of all, is one of the great tragedies of the left: that obviously good ideals lead directly, and unavoidably, to bad consequences.

But, because the liberal combines good principles with unexamined consequences, those of us who try to point out the problems aren't seen as wrong, we're seen as evil. Precisely because these principles are so obviously good, anyone who disagrees must either be incredibly stupid or deviously malignant.

So, instead of an article which tries to examine why poor people do dumb things, we get instead a litany of statistics that make it sound very bad to be poor with only the slightest nod to the fact that these expenses occurr not because of constraints, but because of bad behavior. The litany of vicious comments that follow anyone who dares point this out in the comments of that article merely underline the point.

Let me go on record here, and I'm sure this won't surprise the left side of the peanut gallery one bit: I'm glad these fees exist. I support them! They provide clear and obvious incentives to people who don't often have a good education or particularly good impulse control to change their behavior. It forces them, in other words, to clean up their damned act, and punishes those who refuse to do so.

The left side will, of course, shriek about how heartless and cruel such a belief is, but that's just how they roll. Never once will they consider the cruelty of their own "assistance" which, no matter how well intentioned, quite explicitly perpetuates the cycle they so heartfully claim to be trying to break.

But I'm not heartless, although by this time I'm sure those on the left are already convinced if I'm not it must be so small even the Grinch would cluck in disapproval. No, I do think people like this need help, but a very different kind of help. My basic principles are choice is choice, and behavior is the responsibility first and last of the individual making the choices. Education and redemption are my watchwords. Teach them, so that they may learn from their mistakes. Forgive them, so that the consequences of those mistakes are not utterly permanent. Work hard to ensure that when some doors close others must open, and restrain or punish those who would lock them instead.

Then, and only then, will the cycle truly be broken. Then, and only then, will free people properly learn what it means to be free. Then, and only then, will the sins of the father be taken from the son.

Posted by scott at September 14, 2011 12:24 PM

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Yeah - that ain't gonna happen. The more dependent you can make the poor, the greater your voter base and the more dependent they are upon you. That keeps those who are in power where they want to be.

Secondly, education is hard. It's much easier to point at the successful and say that someone deserves so of that persons material gains. The argument is never made to so much as what the person receiving the fruits of another's labors has done to deserve it, but more that the one who has actually earned it doesn't need that much.

It's like Robin Hood, but without the actual moral authority behind it.

Posted by: Ron ap Rhys on September 15, 2011 07:59 AM
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