Matthew Feeney Discusses Scrapping the Welfare State and Giving People Free Money on Wisconsin Public Radio

Credit: peddhapati / Foter.com / CC BY/Credit: peddhapati / Foter.com / CC BY/I will be on Wisconsin Public Radio at at 5:45pm ET talking about my article on the guaranteed national income where I argued that giving everyone free money is preferable to the welfare system currently in place. 

Listen live here.

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  • ||

    That ain't working. That's the way you do it.

  • ||

    "Matthew Feeney Discusses Scrapping the Welfare State"

    What are you high?

  • ||

    "were libertarians to argue for replacing the current welfare system with a basic national income we would be better positioned to not only highlight the fact that libertarianism is not the heartless and selfish philosophy it is commonly portrayed as..."

    And we should care about perception over morality why? No one has the right to someone else's time and labor, regardless of whether people think I'm a big meany head or not.

  • ||

    That's definitely what Feeney is misunderstanding. In absolutely no way is a guaranteed income rooted in libertarianism. There are liberty minded people who see it as the best of a number of bad options for when one agrees that a level of state provided support is desirable. But that agreement has absolutely nothing to do with libertarianism.

    Libertarianism is most certainly "heartless and selfish", in that its principles provide zero basis for a social welfare state.

  • Tony||

    It's rooted in ideas of the better libertarian forefathers. Not the Ayn Rand version that seems to dominate today.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|12.10.13 @ 6:02PM|#
    "It's rooted in ideas of the better libertarian forefathers"
    Cite missing

    "Not the Ayn Rand version that seems to dominate today."
    How drunk were you when your frat brother told you he read the first chapter?

  • Tony||

    Hayek and Friedman supported versions of a basic income. You can look it up.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Friedman may have been liberty-minded at times, but he was not a libertarian even with a small "L".

  • Sevo||

    Tony|12.10.13 @ 6:15PM|#
    "Hayek and Friedman supported versions of a basic income."
    Austrian and Monetarist economists /= libertarians.
    Someone mentioned you claimed to be educated.

  • Plopper||

    I'm not defending Tony here, but IF & Sevo... WTF?

    Hmm... really... not libertarians?

    Considering libertarianism encompasses what was once classical liberalism I think one can easily group Milton Friedman and Hayek as libertarians...

    Milton Friedman spoke out frequently against the WoD, and towards the latter parts of his life was for getting rid of the federal reserve board. He was a great defender of classical liberal morality/ethics in general.

  • ||

    Again, you're confusing the person with the philosophy. Just because someone aligns with libertarianism doesn't mean that all of their principles are firmly rooted in libertarian philosophy.

  • thom||

    It's up there with school vouchers as a practical compromise.

  • ||

    Sure it is. But that it no way makes it a libertarian solution. That it's a solution that many libertarians can choke down is not the same as saying it is libertarian in nature.

  • Tony||

    Then maybe libertarianism is bullshit.

    Christ, do you have any idea how stupid it sounds when you measure every idea against an "ism"? You should measure them against how they affect real human well-being, shouldn't you?

  • ||

    It's not about measuring it against an '-ism'. It's about Feeney's claim that this particular '-ism' is supportive of this particular policy. It is not. That does not mean that one who is a libertarian must thus oppose the policy. But their support would not be rooted on libertarianism.

  • Agammamon||

    Why? You don't measure how left-liberal policies *actually* affect real human well-being.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    No, they don't. It is all about intentions. Look at all the people crowing about ACA even though more people have lost insurance than have found it, and those who purchased Bronze plans have just as junky a policy as the ones they had banned.

  • Tony||

    Sure I do. Human well-being is my absolute touchstone. I don't give a shit what you call it. That maximizing human well-being requires collective effort is simply an unsurprising fact of life.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|12.10.13 @ 6:57PM|#
    ..."Human well-being is my absolute touchstone."...

    Well, aren't you a slimy hypocrite then!

  • MJGreen||

    God damn it, you're all going to lead rich, fulfilling lives if I have to beat you into it!

  • Contrarian P||

    If by collective effort you mean that human beings working together produces better outcome for individuals, then I think everyone would agree with you. What you mean by collective effort, though, is a group in power, typically in your paradigm the majority of voters, imposing their world view on all members of a society, regardless of whether or not individual members of society might benefit. In fact, you disregard the worth of the individual as being inferior to the needs of the group. Your problem has always been that you can't grasp that once society begins to disregard the individual, all manner of injustice and atrocity invariably follows.

  • Tony||

    Who wants to disregard the individual? But it is another basic fact of life that by definition collective effort suppresses individual will to some degree. The key is making sure the individuals are better off for the tradeoff.

    You benefit in various ways from being organized collectively in a society. The price is you don't always get your way all the time. (By basic fact of life I mean something small children learn.)

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Christ, do you have any idea how stupid it you sounds? ALWAYS!

  • Sevo||

    Tony|12.10.13 @ 6:17PM|#
    "Then maybe libertarianism is bullshit."

    Libertarianism certainly is NOT about satisfying lefty imbeciles.

  • Plopper||

    Do we now define "libertarian" as being only people who are 100% Rothbardian retards now who are 100% against any sort of compromise?

  • MJGreen||

    The more troubling part is that it seems to concede that libertarian solutions are indeed heartless and selfish. I would think we want to convince people that our solutions are not heartless, rather than seeming to agree that selflessness requires centralized redistribution.

  • Winston||

    This. Nothing says "Libertarian Era" than conceding that libertarian solutions are indeed heartless and selfish.

  • Tony||

    I've long been intrigued by this idea, and was surprised to learn how much support it had among libertarian thinkers. It is simple and elegant compared to the patchwork social safety net we have, treats everyone equally, and lets people make their own choices. It really has a lot going for it.

    Libertarians just have to admit that a society with no social safety net is one in which a lot of people starve and go homeless, and that no free market will ever distribute wealth widely and stably enough to guarantee otherwise. Once they admit that, they have to find a way to appreciate the moral calculation that taxing a rich person is somewhat less of a harm than letting a poor person starve. Given the first point, this is a moral trade-off that is unavoidable. And you just have to suck it up and deal with it.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    If all welfare ended right now, no able person would actually starve unless they deliberately tried to. In conclusion, fuck you.

  • Tony||

    Cite?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    You're the bitchass always using hyperbole like "people starving in the streets". You cite something.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Any citations of "old people dying in the streets" (which is a pervasive claim of yours) before Medicare was passed?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    It really has a lot going for it.

    You think that because you are an immoral pig who believes it's okay to steal what was earned and give to those who haven't.

    Our social safety net should be called charity.

  • Tony||

    Social insurance is not the same thing as charity and does not serve the same purpose, and it's bizarre for Randian douchebags to favor it.

  • Jordan||

    Libertarians just have to admit that a society with no social safety net is one in which a lot of people starve and go homeless, and that no free market will ever distribute wealth widely and stably enough to guarantee otherwise.

    [Citation needed]

  • Contrarian P||

    People are hungry and homeless here now, despite all of the interventions to eliminate poverty and homelessness. There are plenty of hungry and homeless in Europe too, despite all the wonderful "social safety net" programs that you advocate being in place for years. It might surprise you, but some of the most catastrophic hunger and homelessness in all of human history happened in countries where everyone was supposed to be equal.

    Please point to the pre-welfare American period where greater portions of society starved and went homeless than what exists now. That's the thing with your drivel that you consistently post. The horrible problems you claim will occur if your precious programs are scrapped didn't exist before the programs. We don't have to "admit" anything, because you haven't offered a shred of proof that what you are saying is anything other than a pack of lies.

  • Tony||

    You guys really believe that things were great for everyone prior to the invention of the welfare state, don't you? Where do you get this notion? What period of history are you referring to?

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    The problem is that people will spend the monthly stipend in the first week, then end up on the street anyway. So Progressives will bring back the welfare state. Trying to give everyone middle class signifiers just doesn't work, it is a bottomless hole.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "people will spend the monthly stipend in the first week, then end up on the street anyway"

    Feature, not problem. Even if it is not libertarian, it should at least sort out a few things.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Yes, but the practical result won't be a radical reinvention of the welfare state, just a radical expansion of it.

  • ||

    they have to find a way to appreciate the moral calculation that taxing a rich person is somewhat less of a harm than letting a poor person starve

    No, they don't. I am not morally opposed to letting people starve...depending on the circumstances. But frankly, there's nothing about that moral stance that's rooted in philosophy. From a Utility perspective, the best reason not to let the poor starve is to keep them from trying to take what others have by force.

    But the discussion of the "moral calculation" is clearly a crux of the debate.

  • Tony||

    Sure, from a utility perspective, preventing the inevitable nastiness that comes when a few have all the wealth is a very good reason to support some redistribution. Call it anti-guillotine insurance. But the more basic utility argument is that the whole point of any of these discussions is to increase human well-being, which starvation obviously detracts from.

    The moral claim that taxation is a greater harm than allowing starvation is psychotic. All the more so when most of you are fine with some taxation, as long as it pays for the protection of the interests of those with wealth and property.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Except that if you subsidize indolence and tax effort, you get more of the former and less of the latter, so there is less wealth to redistribute. And inevitably some of the people struggling to support themselves are pushed into poverty by the taxes needed to pay off the ones who just choose not to try.

  • Tony||

    Which is why a guaranteed basic income should be appealing--everyone gets the subsidy, rich or poor, lazy or industrious. It simply puts a floor on the amount of human suffering a society allows, and doesn't stick its nose into people's personal habits, as seems to be the ironic but overwhelming fixation of libertarians.

    No sane tax would put someone into poverty who otherwise wouldn't be. But that fantasy isn't what you really care about is it?

    Don't think of it as taxing effort. Think of it as taxing excess wealth. Not every dollar earned came from effort (say if you're a Walton offspring). And not every bad outcome of poverty was earned either (I would argue that there is no crime worthy of the punishment of poverty--even in prison people get food and shelter).

  • Agammamon||

    Look motherfucker - *every* dollar came from *someone's* effort. And tax was paid on it. And then tax was paid on it *again* when it was passed to their inheritors.

    Where the fuck do you get the idea that the children of the rich don't 'deserve' their money?

  • Tony||

    Well they certainly didn't work for it, unless you count being the fastest sperm as effort. Of course the child of poor parents put in exactly the same amount of effort. Why do they deserve to be destitute? Is naked social darwinism the most virtuous system you can come up with?

  • Sevo||

    You are a lying, ignorant piece of shit:

    "Rising riches: 1 in 5 in US reaches affluence"
    "Fully 20 percent of U.S. adults become rich for parts of their lives, wielding extensive influence over America's economy and politics, according to new survey data."
    http://www.sfgate.com/default/.....047261.php

  • Contrarian P||

    Over 85% of all millionaires in this country did not inherit the money. Sure, some of them did, but the overwhelming majority of people who become wealthy did it without large inheritances.

  • Tony||

    I can cherry pick stats too--such as that the Walton offspring have more wealth than the bottom 40% of the entire country. What's your point?

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    "No sane tax would put someone into poverty who otherwise wouldn't be."

    No tax could support a basic income for 350 million people without the incidence falling heavily on the middle and lower-middle class. We are talking trillions per year. You can't just confiscate the top 10%''s income.

  • Tony||

    There are trillions of dollars in wasted and misallocated wealth in this county (or often in offshore tax havens).

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    misallocated wealth

    You are a disgusting worm. It's bad enough claiming you want to steal for the poor. Now you are, straight up admitting, you want to steal for yourself.

    You are an immoral shitstain.

  • Tony||

    And you need to read another fucking book.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|12.10.13 @ 7:01PM|#
    "There are trillions of dollars in wasted and misallocated wealth in this county (or often in offshore tax havens)."

    Yes, and we have you and idjits such as you to thank for it.

  • Contrarian P||

    Please, enlighten us as to what constitutes "wasted and misallocated wealth". While you're at it, inform us as to who left you in charge of making that distinction, as opposed to the people who actually own that wealth.

    Seriously, your unbridled arrogance is disturbing.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    everyone gets the subsidy, rich or poor, lazy or industrious.

    And who pays for this subsidy, pig?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    The claim that theft is moral is psychotic. You fucking pig.

  • Tony||

    If you want to call taxation theft, fine, be an anarchist. The point remains that "theft" is still less of a moral harm than letting someone starve to death when you could easily prevent it.

    In fact, a starving person stealing to eat could be considered to be hardly a moral crime at all.

    You ever stop and wonder why your moral priorities are set up in such a stupid and obviously incoherent way, but just so happen to serve the purpose of defending the interests of the wealthy over the interests of the destitute?

  • Sevo||

    The moral claim that taxation is a greater harm than allowing starvation is psychotic."

    Might be, but no one made that claim, except our slimy lefty (you).

  • Invisible Finger||

    Forget about the libertarianism for a bit.

    I just wonder how high Congress would consider a national annual income to be dollar-wise. Then I'd like to see them explain why the existing standard deduction isn't even CLOSE.

  • Sevo||

    "I just wonder how high Congress would consider a national annual income to be dollar-wise. Then I'd like to see them explain why the existing standard deduction isn't even CLOSE."

    Whatever level was chosen would immediately become the new poverty level, requiring additional funds.
    And an argument could easily be made for that; the 'free money' just inflated poverty up to that level.

  • ||

    This is what I'd prefer. Just raise the standard deduction to like $25,000 or something ($10,000 per kid) and tax everything at a flat rate above that - no other deductions.

  • ||

    Then, end withholding for everyone making less than the standard deduction. No more interest free loans to the federal government.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    If there must be a "safety net", I favor a direct, untaxed transfer of money with no restrictions on how it is spent.

  • Winston||

    were libertarians to argue for replacing the current welfare system with a basic national income we would be better positioned to not only highlight the fact that libertarianism is not the heartless and selfish philosophy it is commonly portrayed as...

    So, about that Libertarian Moment...

  • ||

    Bleeding Heart Libertarians was having a debate about this a couple weeks ago, so I guess this is making the rounds.

    Although personally, I consider it more of a thought experiment about the nature of the welfare state than a serious policy.

  • Sevo||

    "Bleeding Heart Libertarians was having a debate about this a couple weeks ago, so I guess this is making the rounds."

    This *might* be worthy, and the way to find out is to remove all incentives to collect free money first and then see how many folks remain needy.
    I'm guessing 5% of the population is truly incapable of providing for themselves. And that portion might well be nourished by voluntary charity.
    And, no, cell phones are not included.

  • Plopper||

    I'm honestly surprised that in this thread Tony actually comes out looking less retarded than some of the libertarian posters.

    Milton Friedman's Negative Income Tax is a great idea and would make for great policy for any libertarian who isn't so absurdly dogmatic they can't tell when they're shooting themselves in the foot just to remain pure.

    I don't see why "incrementalism" in the other direction is a bad thing.

    The Negative Income Tax would save us so much money and force so many worthless bureaucrats to go out and find private sector jobs. It gives the entire welfare state a single neck to cut... To say it isn't a libertarian solution is trying to make the definition of libertarian much stricter than I've ever seen it as being. You're also just alienating people who would otherwise call themselves libertarian.

    Hayek and Friedman were both classical liberals and I consider what we now call "libertarianism" to just be the new name to that movement.

    Of course any social welfare program is going to break with ideology, at some point all libertarians break with the NAP unless they are Rothbard anarchist 'tards.

  • Sevo||

    Plopper|12.10.13 @ 10:57PM|#
    I'm honestly surprised that in this thread Tony actually comes out looking less retarded than some of the libertarian posters."

    Right, and then you post:
    "Milton Friedman's Negative Income Tax is a great idea..."
    Immediately taking the prize for retard! Way to GO!
    Oh, and fuck off, slaver.

  • Plopper||

    If you want to reduce the amount of force and government coercion used instead of trying to eliminate it completely all the while getting absolutely nothing done and leaving things as they are, then yes, it is a great idea.

    It exposes the welfare state, and especially the bureaucrats for what they are.

    If you want to move into the direction of completely eliminating the welfare state, the Negative Income Tax is a great step to take on the way there.

  • Contrarian P||

    The FairTax is a great idea, not the negative income tax. Everyone gets a tax rebate up to the poverty level, then it's a flax consumption tax from there on out. Simple and easy to understand. No complicated filing or anything else. There's also no "guaranteed income" that can be manipulated by populists the same way the minimum wage is now. You get the benefits of your negative income tax (the legitimately poor do not pay any taxes at all) but with a much simpler, transparent, and cost effective system. Also, you do not pay people not to be productive. For those who are unable to work through disability, there is SSI (or hopefully under this system a much better alternative) or private disability insurance.

    By the way, there's nothing dogmatic about maintaining that giving people free money as an entitlement at the expense of the productive is wrong. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who would agree that a poor person would be morally correct if they stole a rich person's watch and wallet if you framed the Robin Hood idea in that way. It's not dogma, it's pointing out that the underlying principles here aren't different just because the government does it.

  • Plopper||

    I don't see how the FairTax is any more resistant to what such things as the Negative Income tax, and I think the FairTax has a much higher chance of being turned into a VAT in addition to our current income taxes so I would disagree.

    Also, I never said I agreed it was moral. But it is being stupid to resist pragmatic compromise which would create less force and less being stolen in the end.

  • Tony||

    What if we only took from the unproductive wealthy?

  • Plopper||

    Just when I think you might, just maybe be becoming less retarded you say this.

  • Plopper||

    So you don't deny you were wrong in saying Friedman and Hayek were not classical liberals... as in libertarians?

    Do you have an argument or just insults?

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