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29 June 2012 @ 10:20 am
I think I just realized something  
So I follow Joe Bethancourt on Facebook, because I like his music and am willing to overlook his politics. And he posts lots of things about, "What part of my property do you think you have the right to steal?" in response to the Affordable Care Act.

I haven't been able to formulate an answer.

I think I've figured it out. From my perspective, he's asking the wrong question, and that's why I can't answer it.

The question *I* ask is, "We live in a society that conveys many advantages. How can we most fairly distribute those advantages while not constraining personal incentive and creativity?"

I have no problem with people who invent really cool things, or provide really cool services, being fabulously wealthy. I have no problem with the idea that a job requiring 25 years of training pays more than a job that doesn't require that kind of investment.

I do have a problem with a society and culture that treats people who do the day-to-day work of maintaining the infrastructure (by which I mean both public infrastructure like road builders and forest rangers and police and teachers and firefighters, and private infrastructure like custodians and secretaries and house builders and factory workers) -- or who are unable to work because of disability, or who are able to work but cannot find a job because the economy is broken -- as disposable and worthless.
Johnjohnpalmer on June 29th, 2012 06:14 pm (UTC)

"What part of my property do you think you have a right to steal?"

"You mean, there's this social compact that we'll all band together to protect your property - and if that compact didn't exist, it would only be yours for as long as no one bigger and stronger than you wanted it enough to take it. And you're saying that, in return for us having to honor your property and expend our resources if your property is in danger, you want to know if we think we have the right to receive something of value for you, in return for the service you're demanding we provide? Or are you talking about actual, you know, theft, which doesn't even exist without that pre-existing social compact called 'property'?"

(The correct answer to "I'm not demanding anything!" is "I'm coming to take everything you own; you can try to stop me but you can't call the police if you can't, and if the police catch me by random chance, you have to say that it's not your property - if you do, you've just made an implicit demand for us to take action against me - the same demand I referenced above.")