1997-08-27 - Re: heart

Header Data

From: Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com>
To: cypherpunks@Algebra.COM
Message Hash: 9aa7ef5120f649d4b854079e0d2d80f103cba01bcad661d114e9743e9c8504c4
Message ID: <19970826235533.15022@bywater.songbird.com>
Reply To: <199708211706.TAA00218@xs1.xs4all.nl>
UTC Datetime: 1997-08-27 07:01:03 UTC
Raw Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 15:01:03 +0800

Raw message

From: Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 15:01:03 +0800
To: cypherpunks@Algebra.COM
Subject: Re: heart
In-Reply-To: <199708211706.TAA00218@xs1.xs4all.nl>
Message-ID: <19970826235533.15022@bywater.songbird.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

On Mon, Aug 25, 1997 at 02:20:33PM -0700, Tim May wrote:
> And I think that most of what passes for "help" actually does more harm
> than good, at least in the longterm.

There is no doubt that sometimes "help" does more harm than good. 
There is also no doubt that sometimes help does more good than harm.  
Platitudes like these don't really give one much real guidance.

> For example, sending food aid to Third World countries sounds noble and
> good. But most studies show the real effect of such aid: it destroys the
> local infrastructure of food production and distribution. (Imagine being a
> poor Somali farmer bringing your grain to market, and seeing tons of U.S.
> grain being distributed freely...it wipes that farmer out, and his future
> years of production are gone, even after the U.S. food aid is also gone.)

So the farmer can die of starvation later rather than earlier.  The
problem is not with help, per se -- it's with the specifics of how the
help is implemented.  What do you think the farmer would chose -- get
some food now, and take his chances with his food production at a
later time, or die of starvation immediately?

A current case is North Korea.  Of course if you give them food it
will help perpetuate an evil government.  On the other hand, if you
don't give them food, lot's and lot's of people would die.  Tim's
answer is that you might as well let them die, rather than perpetuate
the government that enslaves them.  Others aren't quite as 
cold-blooded as Tim.

> For example, the welfare system. Who can argue that it produces persons
> unable or unwilling to take the available jobs, mostly at or near minimum
> wage? When a welfare mother of two or more children can collect the total
> equivalent (direct payments, food coupons, tax exemptions, day care) of $15
> an hour, it would  be foolish for her to apply for a job at Burger King for
> $6.35 an hour, and then have to pay almost that amount to put her kids in
> some day care center. The longer she is out of the job market, the worse it
> gets.

The welfare system obviously has all kinds of problems.  It's not 
easy giving help without creating dependency.  That doesn't mean it 
can't be done.

> For example, saving people from their bad choices in life. When we force
> insurers to cover those who do stupid, formerly uninsurable things, or when
> we force the providers of legally and freely-chose substances (tobacco,
> hamburger, guns, breast implants, rock climbing equipment, etc.) to pay for
> the stupid actions of others, even if only imagined, costs rise and choices
> narrow.

Yep.  I don't see this as the same category of trying to help people, 
though.  Rather, I think this example points out the end result of 
our adversarial legal system.

Kent Crispin				"No reason to get excited",
kent@songbird.com			the thief he kindly spoke...
PGP fingerprint:   B1 8B 72 ED 55 21 5E 44  61 F4 58 0F 72 10 65 55