Re: On Poverty and Crime: Oscar Wilde's views [by John Hilty]

Liberty (
Wed, 01 Apr 1998 03:34:46 -0500


At 09:16 PM 31/03/1998 -0600, John Hilty wrote:

>> and when did the hard-pressed taxpayer ever consent to having his or her
>> hard-earned money used for people that will not work, or bother to further
>> their own capacities for self-support?
>The boundary between taxpayers and the homeless is fluid, not a brick wall, 
>as you are portraying -- many of the homeless DO work, or they have been 
>taxpayers in the past and expect to receive government services when they 
>are in need during the present.  Furthermore, many people who have never been
>homeless in the past, will be surprised to find themselves homeless sometime 
>during the future, including possibly yourself -- who knows?

You did not answer my question.  I was not talking about the people that
are working, or trying to work, to support themselves and their families.
There are people that seem to want everything for nothing.

>> And who is "more affluent"?  Someone who makes more money than you?

>This is a frivolous question.

No, it isn't.  The Left always argues that the affluent should be taxed,
but somehow, "affluent" is never defined, so in the end, it includes
everybody who makes any kind of money.  The majority of working people
are over-taxed, and cannot afford to pay anything more.  Equally ludicrous
is the idea that "taxing the rich" will solve the country's problems.  The
so-called rich, or the job creators in this country ARE being taxed, both
directly and indirectly ... for example, anybody that hires somebody pays
a large portion of payroll taxes, which certainly does not look like an
incentive to hire new people to me.

>> Tell me, where in the US constitution (or any other constitution of the 
>> free world) does it say that I am obligated to support other people who 
>> will not work, and any children they bring into this world?

>We are accountable to the higher morality of natural law.  There exists a 
>genetic similarity between yourself, your spouse,  and your children.  You 
>also share a genetic similarity with other members of your species, and you 
>owe your entire existence to the collective success of this species.  

I repeat my question.  Please answer it.

>>> Tell me, where in the US constitution (or any other constitution of the 
>>> free world) does it say that I am obligated to support other people who 
>>> will not work, and any children they bring into this world?

>> I think this was tried in Great Britain, but there are still a lot of poor
>> and unemployed people... I think my orientation is more toward solutions,
>> instead of doing the same things over and over again, expecting to get
>> different results.

>You're not proposing any solutions to the problems that
>confront humanity, but merely seek to avoid them until
>they come crashing through your door (and they will).

But all the Left seems to propose is more government spending, which has
been tried and failed.  What makes people think it will work this time?

>> Eight trillion dollars have already been spent on the War on Poverty in
>> the United States, and what has resulted?  More poor people!  I fail to
>> see how spending any more will reduce or eliminate poverty.

>You must be referring to what we spend on corporate welfare, such as the 
>budget of the Defense Department.

Defense spending is relatively miniscule in Canada, and irrelevent ...

>The government spends far more money on behalf of the middle class and the 
>rich than the poor, therefore this argument is without merit because the

Not true.  I don't get any government benefits at all.  My income puts me
beyond the threshhold of qualifying for any so-called "middle class welfare".
The only publicly-funded "social" type program that is available to me,
is the same programs that are available to ALL Canadians, rich and poor
alike, such as health care ... and studies have shown that lower social
classes use health care more than middle class and so-called wealthy.

Besides that, the Left keeps pursuing this argument, but has certainly failed
to come up with any real facts or figures to back this up.

The only middle class welfare I am aware of are the salaries paid to
workers and administrators of the welfare state that you so promote ...
which takes
up over 80% of any monies spent on such programs, and believe me - they
earn much more than the people they supposedly "help".

>You're a much heavier feeder from the public treasury than any homeless 
>person, therefore it is hypocritical to begrudge them a pittance in benefits.

I answered your question above.

>> In a private market economy, you get some rich people and some poor people.
>> In a socialist economy, you get all poor people, except for those in
>> the communist ruling class.

>No, the wealthiest nations have socialist-capitalist economic systems
>(Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand,
>and Japan).  The socialist nations have intermediate levels of wealth,

You did not answer my question.  People in countries, such as Cuba and
Albania, whose policies most people on this list appear to promote, are
universally poor.  Any wealth that is in the hands of this nation tends
to be shared only among the ruling classes and their families, while the
rest of the populations are living in poverty and yes, you guessed it -
many of them are also homeless ... some solution socialism is.

>while examples of capitalist economic systems must be found among the 
>poorest nations of the third world.  Since these latter nations practice
>the kind of economic system that you advocate, perhaps you should
>move to one of them.


>> Whose responsibility is it to provide this "minimum standard"?  And
>> where does it say this in the constitution of any country in the free

>The U.S. Constitution suggests that it is important to protect the
>life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of all individuals existing within
>our society, including the homeless.

Yes, this also means that I should have the economic right to spend my
earned money in any way I please, and not have half or more of it spent
on programs, including those programs I do not agree with.  My rights also
extend to my right to freedom of expression, and my right to pursue
happiness, etc.  There is nothing in the U.S. system that stops anybody,
rich or poor, from enjoying their right to freedom, life and pursuit of
happiness either.  Nobody is stopping people with poverty from setting
and pursuing goals to improve and/or take care of their futures.  This
constitution does not obligate me to pay for somebody else's choices of
what they wish to pursue, it only gives people the right to pursue them.

>One finds similar provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 
>by the United Nations, particularly for children (which was signed by the 
>United States).

The United Nations Declaration means absolutely nothing, particularly when
the United States has persistently avoided paying its membership dues.
Besides that, what can the United Nations do to ENFORCE any of this anyways?
This is why they are probably more willing and able to engage in this type
of fluff talk, than any real government that has real responsibilities and
real budgets to administer.

>Because homelessness threatens the life, liberty, and happiness of those 
>individuals who are exposed to it, it is a constitutional imperative to 
>eradicate it.  According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the poor are 
>entitled to welfare benefits under the U.S. constitution.

And I guess my right to life, liberty and happiness is not important at all,
if you in your earlier posts, advocate that people should have the right to
steal from me ... I fail to see where this is going to make me very happy.

>Many members of the homeless are incapable of work, which is the reason why 
>they are homeless in the first place.

I was told I was incapable of working too, then subsequent access to any
programs to help me get to work were cut off for me ... I was expected to
get by on a measley government pension ... yes, be grateful, one says ...
and this did not even cover my rent.  I had to work, so I did.

>Other members of the homeless require jobs with liveable wages and 
>humanitarian working conditions, which are not generally available because 
>many members of the poor and the homeless are forced into the degrading 
>conditions of the job market against their will because they have no viable 

That's nonsense.  Most of this comes from people that dropped out of high
school, that refuse to start at the bottom. There are too many people, 
particularly young people, that think they should immediately become
company executives, as soon as they leave school ... This is certainly
not possible ... People are needed in the mailroom, just as much as they
are needed at the top levels of management.

As for decent wages, I agree with you.  No employer in their right mind
would hire workers and expect them to provide the type of performance they
need at subsistence level salaries.  But, however - wage demands must meet
market conditions.  Workers cannot expect companies to pay their workers
more than the company can afford.  It is obvious that a company like
General Motors can afford to hire more workers at $30,000 a year (which
is a fairly decent wage), than they could at their current average rate
of $60,000 to $70,000 a year (which is the unrealistic rate the unions
have pushed the company into paying, then they wonder why there are so
many lay-offs or why the company sets up shop elsewhere).

>The only way to stop the exploitation of the disadvantaged members of
>under capitalism is by offering welfare benefits unconditionally to whoever 
>exists in a state of need.

This is never going to happen.  It is a pipe dream to actually believe that
any government of their right mind has the means or inclination to raise
welfare rates beyond what they are now, and the level they are at now is
certainly not humane by any standard.

The only alternative for people that do not want to live in subsistence is
to work, unless they are lucky enough to be independently wealthy.

>> My point was, if there was no more money being earned by anyone, there
>> will be no more money to fund the programs you supposedly want.

>That wouldn't happen because people are motivated to work out of a sense of 
>greed, or out of a sense of cooperation.  As more people leave the job
>and become welfare recipients, they will continue to spend money and the 
>demand for labor will increase as a result of the shortage.

I don't exactly see where giving somebody in Metro Toronto $520 a month,
where the average rents for a single person range from $550 to $800/month
is a very productive way to kick-start the economy.  I would rather spend
the time and money we need to spend, in order to get that person EARNING
a sufficient wage, so they can support themselves and believe me - this will
contribute way more to the economy, than giving everybody welfare.

>This would force employers to offer better pay, better benefits, and better 
>working conditions, which would lure many welfare recipients back into the 
>job market because of greed (the desire to improve one's standard of

Most employers do provide decent working conditions, and sufficient salaries
for their workers.  Very few employers pay less than welfare/minimal.  In
fact, in a recent survey by the Toronto Board of Trade showed the average
wage offered by Toronto employers is about $10 - $11/hour, which is well
above Ontario's minimum wage, which is currently set at $6.85/hour.

>An equilibrium between work and welfare would be established, while the 
>exploitation of the homeless and poor would be decreased.

I think you are missing the whole point.  People have a responsibility
to support themselves, first and foremost.  Work should be the focus of
any government's economic strategy, should there be one.

>whereas the homeless and the starving poor have the right to engage in
lesser >evils (property crimes) in order to avoid greater evils (starvation or
>being treated like property).

No, they don't.  The poor and homeless have to abide by law like anyone else.
You are still advocating and counselling that people break the law, which
in case you don't know, is also a criminal offense.

>In some ways, you're more similar to these violent cult leaders because you 
>see nothing wrong with attempting to kill other people by allowing them to 
>starve to death or exist without shelter, which is the greatest of all 

You're full of it.  Now, you are accusing ME of murder?  All I am saying
is that people have the responsibility to support themselves, then you
make a wild leap of logic to accuse me of murder.

>possible evils.  The fact that your opinion may be shared by more members of 
>our society makes your cult even more violent and dangerous than the
>ones that you describe.

I don't have a cult, nor do I intend to start one.

The reason why my views tend to be supported by most people in society, is
because (fortunately) most people recognize their first and foremost
obligation is to support themselves.  Secondly, if people supported socialism
and unlimited government intervention in their lives, such as with the
policies that you are proposing, they would not be taking to the street to
vote down tax hikes, and market value assessment to their properties (which
results in many or most homeowners and/or businesses paying more taxes).
They would also be voting in more governments that choose to tax and spend,
and punish governments that balance budgets, which is certainly not been
the case, at least in the Western world. Most people have the intelligence
and knowledge to recognize that without a strong economy and business sector,
no social programs and/or effective government strategy is possible.

>> The problem is most of the people you think should be taxed are already
>> over-taxed, and are no longer able to invest and create the kind of jobs
>> that would be necessary to bring people out of poverty.

>Yes, but most of those taxes provide welfare benefits for businesses, rich 
>people, people of the middle class, rather than the poor and homeless, 
>therefore your argument is without merit because it would only make the rich 
>richer and the poor poorer, and our entire society will eventually
collapse >under the strain of the ever-widening gap in income.

I am not aware of any "welfare" programs readily offered to businesses,
at least here in Canada.  I think the Left has some very real difficulties
grasping at straws in their arguments on economics, as they really do not
know what they're talking about.

Some left-wingers point to so-called government subsidies given to 
businesses. As a business owner with a healthy profit margin, I am not 
aware of receiving any "welfare" from the government.  

Some would argue certain tax breaks are equal to welfare.  Any tax breaks
provided to business, and believe me - they are not in any kind of abundance 
as believed by the left - does not have the same effect on the economy as
direct welfare given to people that are not generating any private income.  
Let us first assume the government stopped ANY tax breaks that small 
businesses can apply for and/or allegedly benefit from, and then taxed
businesses to the limit of government's power. OK, so the business has less
money to spend.  Less people will be hired. Less business will be
generated, which will make it less possible for the business to make as
much money as 
it otherwise could. Then, less money will be available from these
businesses that are making less money to pay the taxes that will
increasingly be needed 
to pay for the social programs the left thinks will work, even though they 
have been proven time and again, to be useless in getting rid of poverty/
homelessness. Welfare that is paid directly to individuals does not result 
in an increased tax base, and generally tends to go to landlords and food
stores (which are also corporations that the left loves to hate ;-) - but
if people are making private money - MORE money, not less, is available in
the economy, for people to spend and use for job creation.

And, because the businesses are not making as much money, they cannot afford 
to hire as many people, then there are more people relying on the tax
system for support.  People who are not working are not going to pay a lot
of taxes, so the tax base will be further shrunk.  Instead of a stronger
economy that
provides jobs for those that want to work, we will have an economy rife 
with unemployment, and more people demanding more support from a shrinking
tax base that fewer working people are able to contribute to.  Yeah - that
makes a real lot of sense ... let's punish the businesses for making money,
so that the people who are working now and generating income for the
economy can be brought down with those that refuse to contribute ...

>> >They're called social welfare programs.
>> I live in Canada where social programs are supposed to be among the best
>> in the world, yet one in five lives in poverty.  More gov't spending on
>> social programs will certainly not eliminate poverty.  It hasn't in the
>> past, I don't think this will change in the future.
>The people of Canada (including their poor) enjoy one of the highest living 
>standards anywhere in the world.

That is irrelevent if you are living on $520/month in Metro Toronto,
when rents usually exceed $600/month for a single person.

>You'll have to travel to Guatemala or Bangladesh to find out what 
>capitalism is really like, and how the poor really live when they are
>without welfare benefits.

Places like Guatamala and Bangledash are very poor, not because of 
capitalism, but because of state socialism spawned by dictatorships and
military rule, which has little to do with a free market economy.

>> You're quite the idealist, aren't you?

>No, I'm stating the plain facts.

Gee whiz --- if ONLY the other five billion people in the world did exactly 
as YOU tell them to, the whole world would be completely at peace,
everybody would have enough to eat, etc.  Gee - if thousands of governments
before us only knew all these "facts", wouldn't the world be a better
place!  If this
is the case, then why are you not walking on water and healing the sick,
and calling yourself the son of God?  If your so-called solutions are so
perfect, they would have already been adopted and put to use everywhere.

>> If there is, it certainly hasn't been in place anywhere yet.

>That's not true, because the nations with the strongest welfare programs 
>are also the wealthiest in the world and they have the best record in 
>respecting human rights, whether material or political.

I am sure countries like Cuba, China, Albania and the former Soviet Union
had a great human rights record ... Sure.  This is probably why these
countries were also frequently targeted by Amnesty International for their
known and blatant ABUSES of human rights.

>> >Because it is the innate nature of humanity to engage in unconditional
>> >mutual cooperation, rather than the pursuit of selfish gain at the
>> >of other people.
>> I don't agree.  There is no scientific evidence of this.

>Capitalism, private property, the nuclear family, and the pursuit of selfish 
>gain are all recent inventions -- humanity has traditionally existed under 
>communal forms of socialism, the extended family, collective property, and

The welfare state is also a very recent invention.  Free enterprise
proponents want to move things back to the way things were with the nuclear
and extended families and VOLUNTARY programs to serve the disadvantaged.  I
have no objections to people wanting to help someone else, but I disagree
with the state forcing people to "help" others through taxes to pay for
programs they neither have any say or control over, and have proven to show
few benefits.

>emphasis on unconditional cooperation among members of one's society.  These 
>social arrangements can be found in virtually all aboriginal cultures.  

If this is the case (i.e. that humans are "naturally" co-operative), then 
we don't need forced taxation to pay for social programs, as people would
just naturally help out their neighbours when they are in need, etc.  Your
above statement shoots all of your former arguments in the foot.  You can't
claim human nature is to be co-operative, kind and generous to one another,
while on the other hand, advocating that the system must force people to
be that way (or they would NOT be this way ...).  Your arguments contradict.

>> At least, in the US and Canada, etc. one does not get locked up for saying
>> their socialist views.
>On a per capita basis, the United States throws more people into prison than 
>any other nation in the world (with the possible exception of Russia under 
>Boris Yeltsin).  Many of these people are victims of the economic tyranny of 
>capitalism, which I have already described.

In Singapore, they chop off limbs for people that steal.  Is this the
direction you want our governments to move toward?  In Singapore, their
incarceration rate is very low.  However, in the old Soviet Union, China,
and other similar socialist/communist regimes, people ARE imprisoned,
tortured, beaten, denied many more freedoms than they are here in North
America, for even holding the wrong political views.  The scary thing
that is happening in North America is the movement for political correctness,
which is costing many people their jobs, their homes, their families, and
so forth - because their views are counter to the growing movement toward
the kind of communist state that you advocate.  This is why proponents
of free enterprise speak up, as I don't think most people on the left
understand that they should be more thankful to them, for their constant
pushing for individual rights, or the people on the left would not hold
the amount of power they do right now, in certain institutions.

>No doubt this trend will increase as more social programs are
>destroyed, while the costs of maintaining the police and prison system
>continue to spiral out of control in the "Land of Liberty."

Actually, the rate of crime is going down.  Even so-called property offenses
are going down.  I think you've been watching too many crime dramas.

>As for capitalism, it often operates under an authoritarian system
>of government, in which death squads, mass graves, torture, extreme
>poverty, censorship, discrimination, propaganda, etc., are the normal
>way of getting things done.

I don't recall any government like this under the likes of Margaret 
Thatcher, Ronald Raegan, or even in Canada, where the movement toward
free enterprise is beginning to take shape, and where social programs
that you speak of are allegedly being de-funded.

>One can find such examples of capitalism in Burma, Indonesia, Guatemala, 
>Zaire, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, etc. 

As I said above, capitalism and free enterprise exists outside of the
influence of any government.  The nation states you cited above have
dictatorial military regimes, which have little or nothing to do with
the economic make-up of their countries.  Similar governments have existed
in Cuba, China, Poland, Hungary, Soviet Union, Romania, and the list goes
on ... and the reason these types of governments are more likely to exist
in a socialist environment is because the maintenance and continuation of
this type of economic regime requires government intervention.  Capitalism
and free enterprise in its purist form requires no government intervention.

>It is only recently in history that the democratic socialist-capitalist
>nations have evolved in Western Europe and North America.

And these governments are getting voted out in droves, just as fast as they 
get elected. I doubt Ontario, for example, will ever see another NDP
government, because most people realize this government was probably the 
worst government Ontario's rich economy ever had ... and to top it off, 
Ontario transformed itself under the NDP, from a very rich, resource and
knowledge-based economy, to a province with a record number of business
bankruptcies, people on welfare and drug-alcohol problems, and yes - despite
tripling social spending under the NDP, the number of people who were home-
less dramatically increased ... and unfortunately to some, the tough 
medicine that is presently being applied by Mike Harris & Co. is needed to 
put Ontario's economy back on track ... Almost seventy percent of Ontarians
still think that Harris' cuts are "on the right track", although some people
think Harris needs to communicate better and perhaps, slow down on some of
the cuts (but NOT to reverse them), particularly to hospitals.  And yes, 
since Harris came to power, both the rate of violent crime and property
offenses has DROPPED, not increased like the liberal left media would like 
to get us to believe.