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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Fnords

This story is interesting. President Obama is spending $100M on earthquake relief for Haiti. It's so easy to be generous with other people's money! Obama is also sending troops and police. If I had a standing army paid via taxation/theft, this is a good opportunity to promote them!

It's one thing to voluntarily contribute to charity. It's another thing to be forced at gunpoint to pay. Besides, a lot of that $100M in aid might disappear as pork.

In an emergency, there is no choice but to rely on the State, due to their monopoly. Faced with a crushing tax burden, people don't prepare for emergencies. When people have a tax burden of 50%-95% or more, there's very little leftover for charitable work.

Would people make contributions to private charities if there were no government? They probably would. It's the usual seen vs. unseen fallacy. You see politicians helping people in emergencies. That's the only option, due to their violence monopoly and economic monopoly.

In the USA, there were a lot of private charities and mutual aid societies, before the growth of government and the Welfare State eliminated them. That's an indication that people would have private charities, that would do all the things that government "beneficially" does, and more efficiently.

Political insiders use charities as tax dodges. If you put your assets in a charitable trust, then you can control them while avoiding taxes. The people who run the trust can pay themselves a nice salary.

The people who are the most publicly active charity donors are those who profit most from State violence. For example, executives at Goldman Sachs set up some high-profile charities recently. If you steal trillions of dollars and give a small amount to charity, does that make it morally acceptable?

Professional athletes are usually required to do charity work, as part of their contract. This helps prove the illusion of legitimacy when State insiders make charitable donations, either as a tax dodge or as a publicity stunt.

It's not valid to say "Look at the good things that State charities do. Look at the good charitable works of State insiders." That's still the seen/unseen fallacy. You don't see the free market alternatives that would exist without the State.

"Obama sends aid to Haiti!" is an evil fnord. It emphasizes people's dependence on the State. It's very easy to be charitable with other people's money! If a criminal uses part of his stolen property on good things, that doesn't magically make him not a criminal.

As usual, whenever you see an issue hyped on the news 24x7 for several days, the key question is "Where's the evil fnord? How does this glorify the State?" The coverage of the Haiti earthquake emphasizes the "need" for the State, because only the State helps people in emergencies. This is an evil fnord, because the State crowds out free market alternatives via taxes. For many things, it's explicitly illegal for people to help themselves without a State permit.

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