05 April 2010

Treat Welfare System Like Criminal Justice System

Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.

The Blackstone ratio guides our criminal justice system. The same theme has appeared in one version or another throughout human history, including in the writings of the 12th century philosopher Maimonides and in the Bible.

Would that poverty were treated like a crime. In that case, the same principle would justify a guaranteed annual income for all. That it doesn't, and the overwhelming reason why it doesn't, is among the ironies.

Certain conservative types fear that a GAIA would discourage people from working. They imagine the default human condition is to do nothing, to contribute nothing and never to strive for a better life.

That's a decidedly un-Christian perspective of the human being, which was purportedly made in a certain deity's image. For Christians, in fact, it's an illogical point of view, one that's inconsistent with other Christian principles.

Charity is another argument used against a GAIA, even against having a public welfare system at all. Charity and charitable institutions are supposed to take care of 'the needy', 'the less fortunate', 'the vulnerable'.

Again, there's an underlying inconsistency.

How might one fill one's charity quota if a public system exists to ensure there are no impoverished unfortunates?

Charity preys on need. Its very existence requires a class system and people who are without.

Those two religiously historical concerns, for 'the work ethic' and 'Christian charity', are why the principle that underlies our welfare system is opposite to the one that guides our criminal system. It's the principle:

Better that ten innocent suffer in poverty than one guilty person escape.

[Cross-posted at economicus ridiculous]

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