Thursday, June 14, 2012

What do we deserve?

One of the seemingly disagreements between the political parties seem to be about this question. I hope to point out that it may not be so much about what we deserve but rather how we might achieve that which we deserve.

The Declaration of Independence stated that we have the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The latter was

"...one of the "unalienable rights" of people enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, along with "life" and "liberty." "The right to pursue any lawful business or vocation, in any manner not inconsistent with the equal rights of others, which may increase their prosperity or develop their faculties, so as to give them their highest enjoyment." Butchers' Co. v. Crescent City Co., 111 U.S. 746, 757, (1884.)"

Some say that we have the right to education, to food, to healthcare, and to housing. Though these are not specifically guaranteed by the constitution, one could argue that they are necessities for the pursuit of happiness and therefore also unalienable rights mentioned in the declaration of independence.

One means to achieve these "rights" is to redistribute wealth. This will work to the extent that there is enough to go around and that the powers-to-be have sufficient strength to make such a distribution.

There may be some consequences to redistribution. The "haves" might lose their incentive to accumulate. The "income" of the wealthy is a small part of their wealth. So in addition to high taxes, we would have to distribute their investments. Which may mean that companies that produce goods and services might become impoverished. The "have nots" might lost their incentive as well, having all that they need for their good life.

I love the saying, "give a man a fish and he has food for a day. Teach him to fish and he has food for life." It suggests a libertarian view of providing a better life for all. The ultimate outcome of a prosperous society will be happiness. That happiness will mean that more have the quality of life that they wish.

I believe both of the presidential contenders want the best for their citizens. The question is how that might be achieved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kim: Some say that we have the right to education, to food, to healthcare, and to housing. Though these are not specifically guaranteed by the constitution, one could argue that they are necessities for the pursuit of happiness and therefore also unalienable rights mentioned in the declaration of independence.

Me: Food is not a right. . . It’s a necessity. Housing is a necessity. Education has to happen if you want to survive. It doesn’t matter if the constitution or the delectation of human rights considers them ‘rights’. . . Without food, you die. Without water, you die. Without housing, you are exposed to the elements and have no real security . . . and you will probably not live long. So there is what do people deserve and what people need in order to live.

Kim: There may be some consequences to redistribution. The "haves" might lose their incentive to accumulate. The "income" of the wealthy is a small part of their wealth. So in addition to high taxes, we would have to distribute their investments. Which may mean that companies that produce goods and services might become impoverished. The "have nots" might lost their incentive as well, having all that they need for their good life.

Me: Right. If you have food and shelter, then you will do nothing but sit on your duff and become completely unproductive. Better to keep people poor so that they have to work hard in order to survive. Better to make sure they spend their time doing things that are questionable for money than to pay them a far wage, fund schools in their area, and encourage them to reach for a higher human potential. . . which is what can happen once your ‘needs’ are met.

Kim: “give a man a fish and he has food for a day. Teach him to fish and he has food for life.”

Me: Buy the stream and get rich by making people pay you to fish there. Then act like it their fault that they don’t have a stream of their own. That’s the market taking care of things. Make a factory and pollute the water in the stream in order to maximize profits and then use the profits to fight against the groups trying to lobby against your polluting ways which is killing all the fish. The market will take care of things. Then when people start to get sick from the polluted water and fish, tell them they are just as much at fault for the pollution since they may have used the product used by the factory. The market will handle things.

Life is not as simple as the ‘libertarian view’ you have provided here.