Sunday, April 24, 2011

What is fair?

What is fairness? Far from believing the Marxist cliche, "From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs." a survey commissioned by the thinktank, Policy Exchange and conducted by YouGuv has concluded that people should be rewarded according to how much they put in to society. The poll, shows that a startling 80 per cent of all voters think that people who have been out of work for 12 months should have to do community work before they get benefits - as long as they are physically and mentally capable of working.

The unemployed are not looked on kindly by the majority of British voters. 49 per cent believe that those on Job-seekers Allowance who refuse job offers or interviews should lose half their benefit; 21 per cent say they should lose it all. Perhaps it is a sign of our straightened times that loss of half their benefit is seen as fit treatment for claimants who are single, have a criminal record, are "serial" claimants or are drug users by at least a third and sometimes as much as a half of all respondents.

A third of those questioned thought the main reason for unemployment was that benefits are too generous.

There was not much sympathy either for those who plead that they have to support large families. Two thirds of voters believe parents with three children should not get additional payments if they have a fourth; 59 per cent believe the government should actively discourage people from becoming lone parents.

When ordinary people use the word "fair", they mean that you should get out of life pretty much what you put in, or something for something, rather than something for nothing. Poverty is not society's fault and therefore it's not society's responsibility to deal with it. Poverty, they say, is a consequence of lack of effort or self-control – and, therefore, the individual must accept the consequences. The idea of "workfare" schemes, in which the long-term unemployed must undertake services to the community such as litter collection or graffiti removal if they are to continue receiving benefits, is hugely popular. If you pay people not to work (or to be poor) then they are likely to stay out of work (or remain poor). More surprising, perhaps, is the robust demand that those who could work, but won't, should have their benefits cut or stopped altogether – even if they have children. There is little sympathy for the argument that the children of the workshy should not be penalised for their parents' fecklessness.

This echoes St Paul's directive in his letter to the Thessalonians, "He who will not work, neither shall he eat."

This is the common thread throughout this survey: overwhelmingly people reiterate their belief in individual responsibility. Their insistence is that those who are able should be prepared to support themselves and any children they produce. This should not be thought of as mean-mindedness or lack of compassion. There is a clear message that those genuinely unable to make their own way should be helped. Rather, it is an acknowledgement of the value of self-respect and self-determination: an understanding that being a grown-up means taking responsibility for yourself, and that not having such expectations of people demeans them.


Anonymous said...

My son is 25. He is a graduate and teaches drums. He lost a job recently and it is hard to get jobs in the arts sector just now so I asked if he would sign on? He said he never had and never would "it is for losers". And it's true, he has worked at unskilled jobs or skilled as they came up and has never lacked some sort of way to pay his way...just asks till he gets offered a job. Incidentally - we live in an area of high unemployment!
I think there is a lot of sense in what you is related to self esteem and should be encouraged for those who can...

Burke said...

Obama's repeated justification for his wealth redistribution programs has been "fairness" or "fundamental fairness."

This kind of perverted egalitarianism is the legacy here of the late Harvard professor John Rawls, which is almost certainly where Obama got it.

The problem for Christians who oppose this line of thought is facing accusations of selfishness.

We Objectivists, however, have no such problems.

Terry Hamblin said...

St Paul was a Christian, I believe.

Burke said...

"He who will not work, neither shall he eat."

The Communists said the same thing.

Terry Hamblin said...

Marx or possibly Engels said "To each according to his needs, from each according to his ability." Stalin said he who can't work neither shall he eat and so did Hitler.

Burke said...

Looks like Stalin and Hitler agreed with St Paul on the no work no eat idea. And it looks like most Christians and most communists agree with Marx on the from each to each one, which is why Western nations are becoming socialistic.

The Enlightenment belief that rights trump need has been turned around.

Rand believed that Christians were teaching their children to be socialists without realizing it.

Terry Hamblin said...

There is a distinction. St Paul reckoned that those who refused to work shouldn't eat; the communists and fascists witheld food from those who were unabl;e to eat. Socialists believe that food should be shared around equally no matter how much contribution is made.

Burke said...

What's the real world difference communism, fascism, and socialism? The communists believed that after the evil capitalists were overthrown, their society would transition through a period of socialism into a classless, stateless system, communism. But none of the communist societies ever went beyond socialism. "USSR" stood for Union Of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics. The word "Nazi" was made from the German words for "national socialism."

The supposed big difference between socialism and fascism was said to be that there was no private property in fascist societies. But even there, the right of property was an illusion because the govt controlled everything just as it did in socialistic nations.

They were all unfree statist-collectivists run by thugs.

Unfortunately, the morality that underpinned these societies, altruism, is the same as the Christian morality here now.

If service to others is one's purpose for existence (as Christians believe Jesus preached), then why shouldn't the state force us all to do so?

How is that different from service to the collective?

Hence, socialized medicine, etc.

Terry Hamblin said...

I agree that both fascism and communism are forms of autocratic government where people are told what to do and that socialism tends to the same, though usually without the brutality. But life was just as unpleasant under the Tsar or Henry VIII.

The chief aim of man under Christianity is to glorify God. Loving your neighbor as yourself comes second. You glorify God by having a personal transformation. The point about Christianity is that it is voluntary not co-erced. Some Christian communities have dispensed with this (remember the Spanish Inquisition) to their detriment.

Burke said...

A slight correction in my last post. I meant to write:

"The supposed big difference between socialism and fascism was said to be that there was no private property in SOCIALISTIC societies."

(correction is in caps)

Burke said...

And Dr Hamblin writes:

"The point about Christianity is that it is voluntary not co-erced. Some Christian communities have dispensed with this (remember the Spanish Inquisition) to their detriment."

But aren't the NHI, Obamacare, and all forms of socialism coercion?

In fact, isn't socialism just another kind of slave society, a system in which the productive are forced to spend their lives in service to the needs of others?

Terry Hamblin said...

Absolutely. I agree. I have the choice to have private medical care or socialized medicine. I choose the NHS for cheapness and private care for convenience and the extras that I need. In British Society I am forced to pay for the NHS, schools, roads, the armed services, government, the BBC, and garbage collection. In America you are only force to pay for Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, the CDC (which together cost more than the whole NHS), some roads, the armed services, and the government.

Burke said...

Why not have a completely free society, one in which the govt acts only to protect the rights of individuals, as the Enlightenment thinkers and America's founders envisioned?

One in which the govt acts only as a retaliatory, protective force?

Terry Hamblin said...

America tried it. It didn't work. Utopias seldom do.

Burke said...

Yes, but what is destroying America (and the Western world)?

Read Atlas Shrugged.