Monday, October 18, 2010

Who's allowed to oppose government support?

There's a brand of Ad Hominem dismissals against welfare state opponents that keeps coming up. It simply says the target's opinion is invalid because they belong to the wrong group, no matter how well-informed they are on the subject. Here's a typical example:

"Of course we should extend unemployment benefits. You have no idea what its like to be unemployed and poor so your position is irrelevant."

Now if the target is indeed outside the group the policy is supposed to help, the position stands. However, if the target reveals himself to be a member of the intended group, in this case the unemployed and poor, there is a quick follow-up: They are simply called a hypocrite.

I've gone over this one before, that it's logical for someone to oppose a scheme, be forced into it, but accept the rewards when offered them.

Imagine being forced to buy a lottery ticket. Say the ticket costs $5, the jackpot is exactly $100 but the chances of winning are a paltry one in 1,000. I would never choose to buy that ticket, but if I was forced to by the government, would it make sense to refuse to cash in a winning ticket? No it would not. I'm still opposed to the system and its misplacement of incentives.

To the opposition's credit, some of them stop there. However, some keep pushing. For example, I had one person tell me only the unemployed have the right to oppose unemployment benefits. I revealed myself to be one of them, and was then asked if I had any children. I do not, so in a very obvious move the goalpost was moved to say only unemployed parents can be in opposition.

But say someone is opposed to unemployment benefits becomes unemployed and changes there position to support the payments. They aren't a hypocrite anymore, but they are marginalized as an ignorant dimwit.

Anyone who is unemployed, opposes unemployment benefits and does not accept the payments would probably not be admired either. They would be dismissed as irrelevant because they had some other access to money, such as savings or a spouse, that separates them from most of the unemployed.

So please tell me, what group of people is allowed to oppose the social safety net?

No comments:

Post a Comment