Monday, June 14, 2010

Is Government Intervention Better Than Nothing?

Is government intervention to provide welfare services and other needed services better than nothing?

This was a response to a friend who made a suggestion that perhaps the answer to the above question is yes:

I wonder if gov't intervention is better than nothing. When the government intervenes it seems that people begin to always expect that intervention. We stop relying on charity or developing other solutions because we have a solution that somewhat works. That, I think, handicaps us and prevents us from completely obliterating the problems that immoral uses of capitalism or immorality in general breeds.

I might also argue that charity can't really exist in a closed system, but that charity has the greatest power to do good in an open free system like capitalism.

But the the opposite is also true, the lack of charity can do the most damage in an open system like capitalism.

Maybe we aren't mature enough yet as a society to help our neighbor except by force.


merrilykaroly said...

So what is the answer? Is there one?

Josh said...

I may argue that history is showing the answer is no, not yes. If we had spent time and resources on a real solution instead of one provided for and run by the government I believe that many of our problems would be less severe and less frequent.

Instead we have made virtually no dent in our problems and have bred a reliance upon government to be our savior any time times get a little tough.

As an individual my perceived responsibility to help my neighbor has been decreased by the government taking that responsibility from my direct life.

Brandon said...

Hey now, My government help is the only thing that enables me to help my neighbor. I do have a friend who while pregnant with his third child (actually his wife was pregnant) on welfare suggested that all people on welfare should have to be on birth control until they are off welfare, I thought that was kind of ironic.

Michael said...


I've been thinking a lot about this over the last few months. Obviously, the right answer would be for everyone to be charitable and help/serve their fellow man. Let's be realistic though, that's not going to happen right now! There would need to be a huge culture change before that could happen. People are too self serving and when they give a small amount they pat themselves on the back and forget about it until the next time it is time to give. Since that is the case (and I say the following even though it goes against what I want to believe) I think the government does need to step in to help CERTAIN populations that are not having their needs met. As a society we cannot just let people suffer. I say certain people though because there are some who take advantage of the system and all possible precautions need to be made to prevent that from happening. With all that said though I still believe as you mention that government intervention causes people to expect it and then not try as hard as they might to get out of their problem situation. Until things change though I think it is necessary for LIMITED government involvement.

Josh said...

@Michael I think you're right that human nature is a difficult thing to change. I just don't believe that it will change unless it has the chance to. For a long time I thought we needed some sort of government intervention to provide at least minimal welfare to those in need. But now, more and more, I think the responsibility is upon our shoulders as neighbors to make an active choice to help. Whether that means we each opt in to give a certain percentage of our income to welfare or do the act of service in person. Either way, both the giver and the receiver are not going to be able to change unless welfare is a choice.

@Brandon hmmmm maybe his point was that govt welfare doesn't really seem to be helping him change his behavior?