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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Curly Capitalist Question Number 3

Anonymous has a good question that cuts to the heart of welfarism and parent's rights

I consider myself pro-market, but often wonder about harm from large private companies. The giants (McDonalds, etc) sell shitty food so I don't eat it. But millions do, they get fat/unhealthy and die. I don't like "solutions" like Green's proposal to regulate food advertising, but at the same time I don't like that companies can do so well selling harmful products. The mental reconciliation I've come to is that people who are too lazy or stupid to eat properly bring it upon themselves, with (maybe) some blame accorded to a lack of rules/enforcement about what is actually in food. I'm not sure I'm satisfied with my answer, so what do you think?

Also, how does the situation of a child who has one of the aforementioned lazy/stupid people as a parent fit into this? Should a parent have the freedom to raise the fat little porkers I see in the supermarket? (They seem to at the moment!)


Why do people think they can eat crap food, smoke and drink to excess and treat their kids like walking waste disposal units.?

Because three generations of welfarism and state health care have lowered the general level of personal responsibility for family health.

Combine that with very low educational standards, in English, maths and the sciences and you have an underclass that has easy access to high carbohydrate food, little knowledge of nutritional science and no economic pressure to try and improve their health.

Obesity was once largely confined to the rich, now it is the disease of the poor. Why, because the poor also tend to be less educated and responsible and more state dependent for income, health services and education.

You work as a railway labourer, your wife cleans dunnies at the local RSA. You want to have nine kids.

Right now you do that and all the low child, higher income, gay and single people pay for it. You feed the kids on cheap carbohydrates to fill them up and shut them up and you buy lots of takeaways because you are too lazy or ignorant to cook properly. There is no penalty for this stupidity, in fact you are rewarded with free medical and dental care.

Imagine a truly free society. Have as many kids as you like, educate and feed them to your liking, but be prepared to bear the consequences.

You want nine kids. You're on low incomes. You either have to pay to feed and educate your kids, or rely on private charities with the power to set conditions.

You pull finger, educate yourself, improve your skills or start a business to raise your income levels sufficiently. Alternatively you settle for three kids.

In a free society, all but the ultra rich would want to insure their own and their kids health. All insurance comes at a price and to reduce those premiums there will be conditions.

Will you attend a course on nutrition? Healthy cooking? If there are obvious health problems, will you enrol your kids in one of the cheap private health monitoring schemes run by the local church, service group, friendly society or entrepeneur?

Will you get your kids involved in sport? Will you sign a pledge to stay away from McDonalds except on birthdays and tax freedom day?

Ironically, welfare statism is a boon to certain industries. Tobacco, alcohol and crap food companies all do well where welfare levels are high.

My contention is simple. The crap food industry is not a symbol of capitalism. It is in fact a symptom of welfarism.

Reduce welfarism, increase personal responsibility, replace state health and education with private and civil society provision and I believe that within a generation, the general level of children's health will improve dramatically.

Anybody care to argue?

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right i will step up. I dont think these low income families will follow all the steps mentioned in the above post. I just think the inevitable 9 kids will end up sick and malnourished. The parents with no mimimum wage will be forced way below the poverty line as the market loosens up a little, the kids get sick but the parents can afford to go to a private hospital so 3 of em die.... you get the idea in a capitalist free for all society those at the bottom get exploited by all :)

9:04 PM  
Anonymous the guy who asked the question in the first place said...

My contention is simple. The crap food industry is not a symbol of capitalism. It is in fact a symptom of welfarism.

I hadn't considered that link before. Thanks Trevor.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Byron the commie said...

Ironically, welfare statism is a boon to certain industries.

Welfare helps a lot of industries, without welfare, surplus workers die of starvation when they're unemployed, then if businesses require more workers in the future, they have to compete for for workers, one company raises wages to bring workers from another company, and so on as is the law of the market.
(more benefits of unemployment)

9:00 AM  
Anonymous squirrel said...

sounds like with all those requirements that a lot of ppl would be much more free to make decisons about their lives under the current system

1:05 PM  
Blogger Trevor Loudon said...

In some ways you're right squirrel. Freedom carries responsibility. Human growth comes through taking on more responsibily and consequently gaining more freedom. This ain't easy, but it is satisfying and makes life meaningful. The choice is yours-live life to the max with all its highs and lows, freedoms and responsibilities, or drift on through, achieving nothing better than an "easy" life.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Yacap said...

The parents with no mimimum wage will be forced way below the poverty line

Removing the minimum wage would cause some people to be paid less, yes; on the other hand, it would cause some people (currently unemployed) to be paid more. Why is your sympathy with the people who are currently being paid more than they're worth by means of violently preventing other people, much worse off, from getting work at all, and not with latter?

you get the idea in a capitalist free for all society those at the bottom get exploited by all

In a capitalist free for all society, nobody gets exploited at all. Exploitation is a feature of the use of violence to force people to behave in ways they wouldn't otherwise choose. I.e., the way of criminals and governments...but I repeat myself.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous squirrel said...

Yea i get your point trev. surely in our current system the way you live your live is dictated by a not so benevolent government, i dont know if it would be better that our lives were dictated by some insurance company or employer.

Yacap in a capitalist "free" society some quickly build up wealth and this puts the balance of power in their favour - it doesnt allways have to be this way but their is huge potential for inequity and exploitation in a free market system. For example if im hungry and you own all the land in the city and their are only 2 or 3 employers then their is a real chance that i would be forced to accept poor working conditions and a low standard of life. ie "exploited by all"

as for the removal of the minimum wage those currently unemployed recieve enough state welfare to survive. In a free market system when their are too many workers those unemployed may not be able to survive.

Im willing to accept a free market system if it can be shown that gross inequity will not occur :) (plus a few other requirements)

6:11 PM  
Blogger Yacap said...

Wealth isn't "power"; not like political power. How do those people "quickly build up wealth"? Absent political intervention, only by being very good at serving the interests of everyone else! And they have to keep doing it, or the guy who can do a better job gets the wealth instead. If you're hungry and I own all the land in the city (but how might that come about?), and I'm not willing to hire you except for what you consider to be "poor working conditions and a low standard of life", you can (a) work for someone else (presumably all the land in the city is only useful to me if there are other people there, right? So one of them can hire you!), (b) work for yourself (again, there's other people there; they undoubtedly have needs that you can fulfil better than I, so do that!), or (c) leave that city. The exact same options open to you even if I will hire you under conditions acceptable to you. How are you being "exploited"?

7:06 PM  
Blogger Trevor Loudon said...

Squirrel. I have two favourite sayings

a A rising tide lifts all boats.

Free markets do bring inequality, which I think is good. I think all people should be equal "before the law", but thats it. Some people will become hugely wealthy, but everyone else will also be better off. Who cares if your neighbour has a Porsche, when you have a Mercedes and you used to drive a Skoda. No two atoms in the universe are equal. Why should people be?

b Socialism is the equal sharing of misery. Self explanatory really.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous squirrel said...

And i would rather live in an equitable fair society with a moderate standard of life for all. I guess thats where you and i differ.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous James said...

"And i would rather live in an equitable fair society with a moderate standard of life for all. I guess thats where you and i differ."

So you are basically calling for all progress and invention to cease squirrel?

Thats what would have to happen to sustain your utopia of stagnation.No free thought or action could be allowed because that would allow some people to become ...Horror! ...unequal!

How big and brutal a State would be required to make your fantasy a reality? The USSR and North Korea may provide a few hints for starters.

"Free men are never equal and equal men are never free.."

12:48 PM  
Anonymous squirrel said...

I prefer a decentralised network of governance as opposed to say the USSR.

As for constant improvment and innovation i am not at all opposed to them, i realise that their will always be disparities in wealth and thats completely natural and that their must be a carrot for people to strive after if they are to work hard though i am not convinced that carrot needs to be increased personal wealth.

What i am opposed to is the centralisation of wealth and power into the hands of a few that i see unbridled capitalism creating. So far no libertarian has ever explained how a libertarian society would cope with this centralisation of wealth and power apart from vague mumblings of charity and "working hard". Until some concrete explanations are given i will continue to support appropriation of wealth from those that have to those that have not.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Trevor Loudon said...

Squirrel Free market capitalism most certainly does not centralise economic power. Just the opposite. I will try and deal with this point in one of my curly questions.

12:14 PM  
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8:23 PM  

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