Ron Paul on Welfare & Poverty
Republican Representative (TX-14); previously Libertarian for President
PAUL: Entitlements are not rights. Rights mean you have a right to your life and you have a right to your liberty. I, in a way, don't like to use terms [like] gay rights, women's rights, minority rights, religious rights. There's only one type of right, it's your right to your liberty. It's caused divisiveness when we see people in groups because, for too long, we punished groups, so the answer then was let's relieve them by giving them affirmative action. I think both are wrong. If you think in terms of individuals and protect every single individual, no, they're not entitled. One group isn't entitled to take something from somebody else. There's a lot of good intention to help poor people. But guess who gets the entitlements in Washington? The big guys get them, the rich people. They run the entitlement system, the military industrial complex, the banking system.
A: Well, in a society that you accept welfarism, he expects the government to take care of him. But what he should do is whatever he wants to do, and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would have a major medical policy.
Q: But if he doesn't have that, and he needs intensive care?
A: That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks.
Q: Are you saying that society should just let him die?
A: No. I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid. In the early 1960s, the churches took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospitals. We've given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. The cost is so high because they dump it on the government, it becomes a bureaucracy.
PAUL: Well, I'm sure, when he did that, he did it with local government, and there's no rules against that. That'd be fine. But that doesn't imply that you want to endorse the entire welfare state. No; it isn't authorized in the Constitution for us to run a welfare state. And it doesn't work. All it's filled up with is mandates. But, yes, if there are poor people in Texas, we have a responsibility--I'd like to see it as voluntary as possible--but under our Constitution, our states have that right--if they feel the obligation, they have a perfect right to. This whole idea that there's something wrong with people who don't lavish out free stuff from the federal government somehow aren't compassionate enough. I resist those accusations.
Anything that is seen as protection against risk causes people to act with less caution. Even if their actions may seem risky, someone else suffers the consequences, and moral hazard will encourage bad economic behavior.
Moral hazard, from whatever source, is detrimental because it removes the sense of responsibility for one's own actions. Interventionism conditions business people to believe they can enjoy the rewards of the market, yet pass on the penalties to others. That's what's happening today.
Although I'm talking here about financial moral hazard, the whole notion of the safety net permeates a socialist or welfare state, encouraging carelessness and dependency on the government.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D, MD): [In developing national service over many years] we were not in the business of creating another new social program. What we were in the business of was creating a new social invention. What do I mean by that? In our country, we are known for our technological inventions. But also often overlooked, and sometimes undervalued, is our social inventions.
We created national service to let young people find opportunity to be of service and also to make an important contribution. But not all was rosy. In 2003, when I was the ranking member on the appropriations subcommittee funding national service, they created a debacle. One of their most colossal errors was that they enrolled over 20,000 volunteers and could not afford to pay for it. That is how sloppy they were in their accounting. I called them the "Enron of nonprofits."
And they worked on it. But all that is history. We are going to expand AmeriCorps activity into specialized corps. One, an education corps; another, a health futures corps; another, a veterans corps; and another called opportunity corps. These are not outside of AmeriCorps. They will be subsets because we find this is where compelling human need is and at the same time offers great opportunity for volunteers to do it.
Opponent's argument to vote No:No senators spoke against the amendment.
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