Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tibor Machan answers the common "What about the poor?" question

The following dialogue is from Mr. Machan's appearance in William F. Buckley's public affairs show "The Firing Line".

MR. VAN DEN HAAG: [...] Suppose there are a number of orphans in the society. They never had an opportunity to provide for their future; they were orhpaned at age 2. They can obviously not provide for themselves. And now let me make this assumption, which is not that unreasonable: For one reason or another private charity is not sufficient, is not forthcoming to take care of them. [...] Are you maintaining that since you are bitterly opposed to government intervention, these orphans should be left to starve? [...]

MR. MACHAN: Yes, as a matter of fact.

MR. VAN DEN HAAG: Thank you. Now--

MR. MACHAN: Before you continue--because obviously this sounds like a, you know, great touche--now let me just respond a little bit. Almost any political system can be asked that kind of a question with the stipulations of the sort that you made. For example, the Federal Communications Commission or the FTC or the Health and Welfare Department goes bankrupt; it hasn't got any money. I stipulate that. Now, let's see how we help unwed mothers. We can't and they starve. So we have a system in the welfare state very similar to the one that you've just outlined about a libertarian society. I think both of them are totally unrealistic, but nevertheless, if you do push me that way, that's the case.