Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State


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Communitarians acknowledge the importance of communities that libertarians often neglect. Groups take identities and needs just as much as individuals since after all, they are a group of people. What is interesting about this theory is the permission of individual liberty with community obligations. Whereas socialists focus more on the community of the state and one class, and libertarians focus solely on private interactions, communitarians allow for both. However, this could lead to some major dilemmas.

Where is the line between individual liberty and communal obligation? It is highly plausible that one could compromise the other. Where libertarianism relies on private charity, communitarians also provide for governmental welfare that could generate more resources to the needy that charity alone cannot provide.

But it also forces the citizens to pay a certain share of what they have earned into that system with the knowledge that they may or may not get something back in return. Those who live in a communitarian society and disagree with the welfare programs, or any program, still have to divvy up their income for taxes and fees or face some form of legal penalty.

The libertarian approach tends to be more effective in alleviating the situation of poverty because it promotes individual ingenuity and motivation to achieve sustainability and prosperity. It allows for social interaction and the formation of communities based on need and will.

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No one is bound to preexisting conditions of obligation to a community that may or may not provide for them. People have to be efficient because they have to be responsible for their prosperity. There is also freedom of movement and career changes should an individual find displeasure and perceived unfairness at their current job. Job mobility keeps positions open, giving lower income people a chance at upward mobility.

What makes libertarian theory even more attractive is the problem that arises from a sprawling government.

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Even if welfare helps some poor, the politics of the program will require it to grow and need more tax income to the point most citizens are violated by that loss of income. What started out as a well intended program turned out to be one that marred with inefficiency that only harms the taxpayer and welfare recipient alike.

Dependency upon welfare programs is also problematic because recipients could take from the system without providing anything in return and strain those who provide tax money for these programs. Often neglected, as Kittay mentioned, are the caregivers who labor every day as social workers, volunteer workers, and family members who care for others. Government welfare has barely addressed the needs of these caregivers and their contributions to society. This is an abuse of the system that even the most bureaucratic efficiency and accountability would have difficulty in resolving. It is a continual strain on the system that can only be solved by one of two ways: reducing the program or increasing tax, fees and other government revenue, which is highly contentious.

Given the problems many states in the country face in balancing education and healthcare costs, a larger welfare burden would place many states deeper in debt. Government agencies crowd out functions that the private sector can perform, in a competitive environment. Government by nature kills competition and quality is compromised. If the government acts with increasing power in welfare policies, there is less incentive for individuals to give out of their will to worthy charitable causes.

Private firms and organizations can provide philanthropic ventures and provide more jobs through competition. However, welfare is needed in times of unfortunate circumstances such as natural disasters, disease, or the damage caused not by the impoverished but by others who placed them into poverty through theft, physical harm.

The market alone doesn't provide for people in times of disasters, neither are many families are born into affluence and have a structurally more difficult task of achieving a living income.


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  • Many people are poor because of scenarios out of their control. Libertarianism generalized that all people have the same opportunities, but these opportunities are taken away by others or by nature. Temporary welfare programs can help bring these people back on their feet, or in the case of disease allow them to live with a level of dignity.

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    Temporary assistance, such as TANF, also prevents an overly burdened welfare state given its rigid work standards and push to get needy families back into the job market. Welfare programs that are rehabilitative by nature are more effective, as shown in the policy studies on TANF. Temporary assistance prevents government programs from increasing out of proportions.

    The best solutions tend to be the ones that allow people to take freedom and responsibilities into their own hands, even if they need some training or temporary income initially. Societies that are more free-market oriented, such as the United States, Japan and the more market oriented European nations have higher standards of living, whereas large government states in Asia, Latin America and Africa are more prone to poverty and other social woes whether the measure is in GDP per capita or in the socioeconomic conditions of the country such as mortality, education and employment measurements.

    This is not to say that state programs do not propagate some of these high living standards, but a vast majority of these countries have a robust private sector that contributes greatly to the standards of living in these more industrialized nations. Minimal governmental interference eventually benefits the many, even those who are on the lower end of the income scale.

    Poverty in the United States and Japan is much more hospitable than poverty in Africa. The ultimate goal of welfare and charity is to eventually reduce the need of such programs, not to increase them. Increase in welfare is indicative of systematic problems in the society. I was born in Stamford Connecticut and was raised in Stratford Connecticut. I graduated from Bunnell High School in Stratford where I found an interest in politics and the humanities late in my high school career.

    I started to attend Adelphi University in the fall of where I declared a double major in History and Political Science.

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    In May , I will have completed my studies at Adelphi and aspire to go to graduate school for an advanced degree in political science. In addition to my interests in history and political science, I am also fond of philosophy and economics. I would like to take this time to acknowledge Dr. Traci Levy, professor of political theory at Adelphi University for all her assistance and guidance in the formulation of this thesis.


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    • I also extend my gratitude to the Political Science and History departments at Adelphi University for their valuable education and opportunities they have provided me in the past four years. Etzioni, Amitai. Gray, John. Klein, Daniel. Kittay, Eva Feder. New, Michael. Obber, Jeffrey. Richman, Sheldon. Thompson, Tommy. Walzer, Michael. Abstract This paper analyzes the libertarian and communitarian views of the welfare state and the proper responsibilities and limits of governmental action. In the middle of the s, the Clinton administration administered systematic welfare reform with its central philosophy of temporary assistance and welfare for struggling families in order to facilitate them for reengagement into the work force and education.

      With this policy in its first decade of existence, this paper focuses on both the theoretical and philosophical interpretations of the libertarian community and communitarian community. But that doctrine has a certain diagnostic value: it is the open confession of a hidden disease that has been eating away the insides of civilization for two centuries under many disguises and cover-ups. Everyone has physiological and psychological needs such as food, clothing, shelter, physical and mental wellness that all need to maintain, whereas libertarians focus more on individual Contrary to libertarian objections that welfare policy will diminish productivity; communitarians believe productivity is lost when citizens do not have basic human needs.

      Endnotes 1. John Rawls, Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press, Rawls, Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations. New York: Modern Library, pp Richman, Rand, Machan, Walzer, Gewirth, Vital Speeches of the Day, XXXI February, pp Gewrith, References Bastiat, Frederic. Freeden, Michael. Gewirth, Alan.

      Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State
      Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State
      Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State
      Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State
      Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State
      Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State
      Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State
      Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State

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