Paul Krugman’s ‘A Tale of Two Moralities’ only tells part of the story

by Ben Hoffman

Paul Krugman wrote an article about about morality in America yesterday. Here are two paragraphs from it that form the heart of his point…

One side of American politics considers the modern welfare state — a private-enterprise economy, but one in which society’s winners are taxed to pay for a social safety net — morally superior to the capitalism red in tooth and claw we had before the New Deal. It’s only right, this side believes, for the affluent to help the less fortunate.

The other side believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft. That’s what lies behind the modern right’s fondness for violent rhetoric: many activists on the right really do see taxes and regulation as tyrannical impositions on their liberty.

Read more…

The ‘right’ sees the modern welfare state, not as a safety net, but as a way of life for many, particularly minorities. They see people on welfare as lazy freeloaders. They see themselves as rugged individualists who work hard for what they have and the people on welfare as doing nearly as well by just sitting around all day watching TV. They see minorities committing a disproportional amount of crime and don’t want to see their tax dollars supporting a way of life that in their opinion leads to crime and to the disintegration of society.

Right-wingers are not entirely wrong in their view of the welfare state. They are wrong, though, about what to do to make our country better. What we need to do is create jobs so people have options, and Republicans have no ideas that will create jobs in America (the United States of America, that is).

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4 Comments to “Paul Krugman’s ‘A Tale of Two Moralities’ only tells part of the story”

  1. So the 10,000 a day baby bombers a day who will be retiring and sucking off the citizens for decades and the young will pay for it and the Trillions of dollars that will cost NOT TO MENTION OBAMACARE doesn’t concern you.

    So how are you going to afford that, mate?
    You don’t care do you?

  2. The other side believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft.

    This is true. We’ve been over it before.

    I am good with the idea of all of us contributing to roads, bridges, police and courts. But if you force me to contribute to the rent of another person, it’s theft.

    many activists on the right really do see taxes and regulation as tyrannical impositions on their liberty.

    I wonder what he would call it?

  3. “tax = theft.” Then the culprit here is rightwing machine that perpetuates this naive, almost childish, notion. And adherents have no credibility in their arguments because it’s simply foolish to believe any civilization can survive without taxation. No advanced one ever has.

    If welfare = theft, then a military contract or road-I-don’t-use or research grant is also theft, as would be ANY expenditure that ANY taxpayer does not support. And any tax exemption is equally as wrong (if I have to pay, all have to pay).

    It’s time the rightwingers grow up and accept that there are expenditures that they will not like, the same as there are expenditures that leftwingers do not like.

    Basing what is good or bad based on what *I* want is the mindset of a child. Grownups, which are scarce on the right these days, know they have to accept some things they don’t want for the betterment of all.

  4. To follow up, I get to see the wonderful benefits of LBJ’s Great Society up close. It makes me ill. It has fed people, sure. But it has created a culture of entitlement. On that point, conservatives are correct.

    But… if welfare ended today, then my community and those all around me would collapse into chaos. It would look like Paris of 1789. Starvation and lack of necessities would drive people to REAL theft and even violence. It would also collapse our economy because ALL that welfare money goes straight into the hands of private businesses by the end of the month. Lost sales would lead to layoffs which would create even more people without a means to survive. That too would lead to stores closing and even more job loss. Business owners and doctors/nurses/pharmacists would take major hits. And governments of all levels would have to cut back services due to lost revenue. Wages would fall. And migrating would be no answer. This effect would be nationwide. IIt would be a RIPPLE-UP tsunami of massive proportion.

    So it’s not like lefties like this program. It’s not as if only the poor are getting a free ride from the government. WELFARE HAS BECOME A FOUNDATION OF LARGE SECTIONS OF AMERICA’S ECONOMY. Many honest working people’s jobs are dependent upon it.

    It’s ironic, but ending welfare would be the biggest ECONOMY-KILLING law ever passed.

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