Guest Post: A Community-Based Alternative To The Welfare State

Tyler Durden's picture




 

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

It is important to discuss alternatives before the Status Quo devolves and collapses, so we have an intellectual framework to guide healthier, more sustainable alternatives once the current system implodes.

Two of the key characteristics of an empire in terminal decline are complacency and intellectual sclerosis, what I have termed a failure of imagination. (The others are military over-reach, chronic deficits, a parasitic Elite that is immune to what's left of the rule of law, weak leadership, mass dependence on the Central State and excessive consumption.)

Michael Grant described these causes of decline in his excellent account The Fall of the Roman Empire:

 

There was no room at all, in these ways of thinking, for the novel, apocalyptic situation which had now arisen, a situation which needed solutions as radical as itself. (The Status Quo) attitude is a complacent acceptance of things as they are, without a single new idea.

This acceptance was accompanied by greatly excessive optimism about the present and future. Even when the end was only sixty years away, and the Empire was already crumbling fast, Rutilius continued to address the spirit of Rome with the same supreme assurance.

This blind adherence to the ideas of the past ranks high among the principal causes of the downfall of Rome. If you were sufficiently lulled by these traditional fictions, there was no call to take any practical first-aid measures at all.

In other words, if our idea of intellectual rigor and honesty is Paul Krugman dancing around the Neo-Keynesian Cargo Cult campfire waving dead chickens and mumbling the same old nonsensical chants about aggregate demand, we are well and truly doomed.

This same intellectual sclerosis and spiritual vacuum characterizes our acceptance of the current welfare state. That dependence on the State is destructive to the the well-being and productivity of the dependents and to the fiscal health of the State is self-evident. As management guru Peter Drucker observed in his 1993 book, Post-Capitalist Society:

 

Joseph Schumpeter warned in 1918 that the fiscal state would in the end undermine government's ability to govern. Fifteen years later, Keynes hailed the fiscal state as the great liberator; no longer limited by restraints on spending, government in the fiscal state could govern effectively, Keynes maintained. We now know Schumpeter was right.

The Status Quo firmly embraces both sides of the welfare state coin: corporate welfare lavished on favored cartels (education, healthcare, defense, oil/gas, banking, etc.) and transfer payments to individuals, i.e. paying people to stay at home watching TV. Republicans and Democrats alike are crony-capitalists par excellence, and both ends of the political spectrum are delighted to warehouse the poor at home via welfare, where the steady drip of State dependence saps their motivation to make political demands on the State-corporate partnership.

(Warehousing the poor in prison for drug-related activity is far more costly and troublesome than simply paying them to stay home and watch TV.)

Politicos bleat the requisite lip-service to "creating jobs," but there is no discussion of policies that might give meaning and purpose to those without jobs while loosening the State's grip on the throat of society.

Correspondent Jeff W. recently shared an alternative vision of dealing with chronic unemployment that is light years away from the centralized welfare state. The key feature of Jeff's system is that it is centered in the community-based economy, the largely forgotten sector of the economy that has been hollowed out by the Central State and corporate-market machine.

 

Here are some thoughts about replacing the welfare state with community groups:

- Three bad ways to deal with chronic unemployment: government income transfer, government make-work jobs, and goosing the economy with debt money. These bad practices need to be supplanted by new practices.

- Because people are not factory-farm chickens, they need more than food, shelter and clothing in order for society to survive. A person also needs important work to do that will allow him to earn a respected role in the community. Community groups can provide important work as well as providing basic food, clothing and shelter.

- Community groups could be funded using the following principles:

a. The tax assessment on businesses and individuals need not be a dollar amount. It can be a requirement to take care of a person, e.g., if you earn $100,000 per year as a single person with no dependents, you might be assessed 1.56 dependents. Your share of the burden of taking care of the unemployed would be 1.56 people.

b. Communities should operate in a competitive environment, e.g., Church A Social Services takes care of people at $10,000/year/dependent. Church B Social Services does it for $9500. The $100,000 earner in the example above could save money by directing his funds to Church B. In this example he saves $780 ($15,600 - $14,820).

c. Dependents should be able to choose which community group to belong to. If all the dependents leave Church B because they are doing a poor job, then Church B Social Services is out of business.

d. A community group can keep its costs low by putting dependents to work, e.g., Churches A & B could operate a taxpaying restaurant, and use its profits to help fund their programs.

The main point I am trying to make is that intelligent new approaches are available to supplant the welfare state. Political leadership may not be available, and the people might not yet be ready for radical change (though they are getting closer to being ready), but ideas and plans are available today.

Thank you, Jeff, for articulating a community-based alternative to the centralized welfare state. One of the few commentators who understand the importance of membership is John Michael Greer of the The Archdruid Report.

Membership entails privileges that are dependent on fulfilling duties, guidelines and responsibilities. Failure to comply with the guidelines or evasion of responsibilities leads to dismissal from the group. This is the core of membership: it can be revoked if the membership privileges or other members are abused.

What is especially noteworthy in Jeff's alternative is the freedom of choice and competition. No one is forced to join a community group; they are free to not join a group and as a result of that choice not collect the benefits. Donors can choose which group to fund, so the community groups are competing for both donors and dependents.

The second key feature of Jeff's alternative is that the goal is not to warehouse the unemployed in front of a TV set, it is to offer them meaningful work and purposeful roles in their community.

As Jeff observed, we as a nation are not yet ready to even discuss alternatives to our corrupt, bankrupt corporate-state welfare system, but it is important to discuss alternatives before the Status Quo devolves and collapses, so we have an intellectual framework to guide healthier, more sustainable alternatives once the current system implodes.

Gordon T. Long and CHS discuss The Global Endgame (25 minutes, 30 slides)

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Thu, 03/14/2013 - 12:28 | 3329756 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

So when the economy, currency, and society collapses, we'll just form 'community groups' instead of 'welfare'...and that's supposedly what caused it all in the first place? 

I'm not sure that's even in the realm of reality. Sounds like this was written by the Monopoly monacle guy.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 12:36 | 3329793 MillionDollarBonus_
MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

Here's why this wont work:

People don't care about the poor. The reason we need a welfare state is that most people are selfish and narcissistic.

We need to rely on people to vote in politicians who are more compassionate and less selfish than themselves. Then and only then will the poor receive a helping hand.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:01 | 3329859 CH1
CH1's picture

People don't care about the poor.

Of course they do, and always have. Funny that the streets weren't full of starving poor and old people in 1910, huh?

It has only been since the state taxed away all our surplus that helping the poor has become especially hard.

Ask yourself this: If you were taxed like it was 1910 (that is, barely at all), how much more money would you have? And might you help the sick guy down the street? Or the blind woman? Or the orphan kids?

Most of us would. Indeed, most of us did.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:06 | 3329884 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

nope

not me

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:18 | 3329924 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

Historically, there were far more efficient ways to handle the poor - those guys and gals that will "always be with us."

``Are there no prisons?'' asked Scrooge.

``Plenty of prisons,'' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

``And the Union workhouses?'' demanded Scrooge. ``Are they still in operation?''

``They are. Still,'' returned the gentleman, `` I wish I could say they were not.''

``The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?'' said Scrooge.

``Both very busy, sir.''

``Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,'' said Scrooge. ``I'm very glad to hear it.''

``Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,'' returned the gentleman, ``a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?''

``Nothing!'' Scrooge replied.

``You wish to be anonymous?''

``I wish to be left alone,'' said Scrooge. ``Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.''

``Many can't go there; and many would rather die.''

``If they would rather die,'' said Scrooge, ``they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.''

Dickens wrote instruction manuals for 21st century social engineering.

 

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:31 | 3329982 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Statists hate charity. They want all possible resources passed through them and theirs first.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:45 | 3330028 monad
monad's picture

Dickens was great. You are looking for HG Wells.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 16:46 | 3330665 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Dickens' constant refrain to his fiscal success was that he wrote for the rich guys.  They always saw themselves rising to the top, no matter how squalid their circumstances were imposed by fate:  True Nobility is always found among the lost souls of the masses.  He omitted the "nurture" part, on the 'talent' and 'effort' part, and focused on the "superior breeding" part.  Since his paying clients saw themselves as "superior breeds".  That's ALL anyone needs to know about Dickens.  The rest is just props, costumes, names and events.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 17:48 | 3330843 monad
monad's picture

Here is the PC socialist statist eugenic propaganda you are looking for 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells_bibliography

 

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 16:58 | 3330711 mc_LDN
mc_LDN's picture

Ahhhh - interesting. The assumption made in this post is essentially the problem and I'm going to bet the poster has no idea why either. 

What most people aren't aware of is that there is an almighty s***storm of a debate going on right now that predicates how we structure society and the stakes are very high for the status quo including Economists.

There is a certain line of thinking - Humanity as naturally wicked, aggressive, people are self interested (think Richard Dawkins, Jared Diamond, Steve Pinker) vs humanity as naturally prone to cooperation and limits on material acquisitiveness (David Graeber and Brian Fergusson).

Once you get a feel for the nature of the debate you start seeing how the status quo (first view) has coloured our assumptions on Economics and the State for about the last 400 years (In effect since Hobbes - co-incidentally about the same time as nation states and state war emerge).

What would be useful is we start making an effort to understand and question some of long held views and understand what the latest evidence is telling us.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 14:26 | 3330177 aerojet
aerojet's picture

I beg to differ--look at Latin America for a preponerance of evidence about that.  The US is looking more and more like that every day as the middle class gets hollowed out and the groups diverge to the two poles. 

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 18:21 | 3330982 CH1
CH1's picture

I beg to differ--look at Latin America for a preponerance of evidence about that.

People in Latin America take care of their old and sick - even while being abused by their rulers. Because they have less money doesn't mean they care less.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 14:51 | 3330282 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

Because they didn't interrupt the part that Darwin got right back then.  It only takes a few weeks exposure/starvation and they're ready to be picked up.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 18:25 | 3330996 CH1
CH1's picture

Which didn't often happen, except in epidemic situations.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:05 | 3329878 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

MDB is right on target.

 

my favorite part: we need to elect politicians who are more compassionate and less selfish.

you should write for jon stewart. i swear you are the best comedian.

of course so is the author.

"if you earn $100,000 per year as a single person with no dependents, you might be assessed 1.56 dependents. Your share of the burden of taking care of the unemployed would be 1.56 people."

i should be responsible for 1.56 people. reallY? i'm one person and i need to raise 1.56 additional people?

fuck that. i didnt have kids because i want to take care of no one but me.

i am offended at the mere thought that i must take responsibility for others. mothers used to drown children they could not manage to feed or  raise. need to bring that tradition back. i will take responsibility for 1.56 extra unfit to manage themselves folks only if i get to drown them. and remember, dont feed the animals, they might become dependant on it and become unable to take care of themselves.

want welfare, get spayed or neutered you fucking animals

enuf trying to make autistic, birth defect ridden fucks useful members of society at the expense of the healthy. you get to participate in special olympics once, right before euthanasia

fasttrack the death penalty

make smoking manditory

legalize gunfights, crack, heroin, meth and anything else fucking lethal

eliminate airbags and seatbelts

ban helmets

we can end the welfare state if we just let people who are unfit to live be culled from the herd as mother nature intended

and if any motherfucker ignores my DNR tattoo, i will sue

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:26 | 3329966 irie1029
irie1029's picture

EXACTLY!!!  Anyone downrates you they are unemployed nanny state sheeple.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:43 | 3330020 monad
monad's picture

1.56? How do I round off the bag limit, up or down? It should be 5, because McCain is wrong.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 14:31 | 3330190 aerojet
aerojet's picture

Maybe dial it back just a bit and realize that your gains did come from you being part of a community and rather than having your wealth involuntarily appropriated at gunpoint, what you would prefer is to be more in control of your charitable giving.  But give you must.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 16:04 | 3330537 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

must?

must?

why the fuck must i give anything to anyone?

that right there is whats wrong here

i must give to support people who wont support themselves

if you cant work because you were injured at work, and i look at that differently

other than that

other than that, make yourself a goddamn job

make it,take it

you aint entitled to anything but a good death, and you need to make that for yourself too

 

who are you who claims to know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil?---God

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 15:40 | 3330450 steve from virginia
steve from virginia's picture

 

 

@John Q. Pig sez:

 

"i am offended at the mere thought that i must take responsibility for others."

 

At the same time John Q consumes as much as twenty or thirty 'others' elsewhere outside the blessed United States! John Q is all take and no give, the typical American Pig who hates taxes and governments because these things add something to the cost of almost free shit/bottomless greed!

 

Nobody asked the poor to be born and nobody asked for the pigs to be born, either. Get rid of the pigs and there are fewer poor by default!

 


Thu, 03/14/2013 - 15:51 | 3330489 PeeramidIdeologies
PeeramidIdeologies's picture

Different people contribute different things to society. Except John Q Public. He must be a banker.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 16:25 | 3330609 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

why must i contribute to society?

society is most of the damn problem

 

and what real productive good do you contribute to society you fucking hypocrite?

i am willing to bet less than 1% of people truly contribute to the good of society

and they are mostly scientists and philosophers and poets

 

in the third world people are starving to death

on average they have something like 5-7 children families

if you feed one, he/she will continue that trend by having 5-7 more kids

so whats more humane?

starve one now or seven later?

or drown the ones you cant feed and raise the one(s) you can feed?

morality and the good of society are totally at odds anyway

freedom of speech vs rampant pornography flooding into the minds of children

pick your bitter pill

but kindly keep in mind how ma nature operates, and she gives not a shit

you survive on your skills and personal network like flippin merecats, and not a whole lot different in the grand scheme

the age of oil and humanity are both just blips in time and purely transitory

you cant save everybody

and you need to focus resources where it does the most good

whats the phrase, misallocation of capital?

it does zero good for society spending millions cradle to grave on invalids, the elderly, birth defects, or any permanent condition.period.

30 grand a year to get a kid with downs syndrome through highschool....what the fuck good is that?

you need to be pragmatic people and not touchy feely mushy liberal democrats trying to save the dregs of society at the expense of the productive

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 16:46 | 3330679 PeeramidIdeologies
PeeramidIdeologies's picture

If you have so much hatred for the world you live in, by all means, you are free to go. Leave your Internet behind though, wouldn't want you abusing the charity of ZH like the rest of us meerkats

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 16:50 | 3330688 steve from virginia
steve from virginia's picture

 

 

@ Pig,

 

It's hard to personify the evils of our age by putting them into words but you've managed to do so in a comment on the Internet.

 

Good job!

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 16:09 | 3330556 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

you dont know what i consume

my footprint is small

thats how you retire at 42

dont consume...minimze, contract,shrink

my house for the wife and I is 500 square feet give or take

electricity runs 17 dollars a month

thats my only utility

my internet connection is via an antenna that aims down the road to an unprotected wifi

heat with wood i chop myself

i grow some food and hunt and fish

my biggest expense is dogfood

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 16:34 | 3330634 PeeramidIdeologies
PeeramidIdeologies's picture

Impressive. Perhaps I was out of line, but the attitude of fuck'em all is a dangerous mindset that can lead to destructive behaviour in the wrong circumstances. I prefer generosity myself, society has provided for me and I don't mind returning the favor

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 15:54 | 3330493 Rusty Diggins
Rusty Diggins's picture

Don't get close to anything you may have to eat.

Fri, 03/15/2013 - 06:54 | 3331872 338
338's picture

You just missed one thing, guardrails, and stop this insane attack on what we used to call driving home from a party after a couple of kegs and a fifth of Wild Turkey.

 

People used to drive pretty shit-faced in cars with no airbags, not a whole helluva lot of guard rails, and no police state to fuck with you at every turn.

 

Seems the herd was a lot leaner and thinner back then, and Andy and Barney didn't need a Lenco Bearcat with a M2 mounted to guard the church yard sale.

 

Nice job JohnQ, I've been dying to see Darwin work his magic, (hell on me included), for years.

 

 

 

 

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:47 | 3330034 Kreditanstalt
Kreditanstalt's picture

"Membership entails privileges that are dependent on fulfilling duties, guidelines and responsibilities."

But do I have the choice of opting out - of both "caring for" and "being cared for"?

If not, what's the difference?

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 14:34 | 3330207 aerojet
aerojet's picture

It comes down to character, quite frankly.  Do you want to be remembered as some rich asshole that everyone preferred dead, or would you prefer a more honorable legacy? 

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 15:48 | 3330476 Half_A_Billion_...
Half_A_Billion_Hollow_Points's picture

When "everyone" that you refer to comes from the movie "Idiocracy", I think the answer becomes crystal clear.

 

Peak Human Biped.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 14:24 | 3330169 _ConanTheLibert...
_ConanTheLibertarian_'s picture

You've got to ask yourself a question, why are there so many poor people? Because the godamnned government is in the way! The government is the cause.

Let people prosper and the few poor will be taken care of.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 16:57 | 3330698 mc_LDN
mc_LDN's picture

Ahhhh - interesting. The assumption made in this post is essentially the problem and I'm going to bet the poster has no idea why either. 

What most people aren't aware of is that there is an almighty s***storm of a debate going on right now that predicates how we structure society and the stakes are very high for the status quo including Economists.

There is a certain line of thinking - Humanity as naturally wicked, aggressive, people are self interested (think Richard Dawkins, Jared Diamond, Steve Pinker) vs humanity as naturally prone to cooperation and limits on material acquisitiveness (David Graeber and Brian Fergusson).

Once you get a feel for the nature of the debate you start seeing how the status quo (first view) has coloured our assumptions on Economics and the State for about the last 400 years (In effect since Hobbes - co-incidentally about the same time as nation states and state war emerge).

What would be useful is we start making an effort to understand and question some of long held views and understand what the latest evidence is telling us.

Fri, 03/15/2013 - 09:19 | 3331976 monad
monad's picture

All children are born destitute and helpless. Their parents take care of them until they can care for themselves, except maybe you. I provide assistance to people who want to help themselves, and only after my needs are met. There are alot of scammers, after all congress is full of backstabbing beggars, so I am not indiscriminant in my charity. Sometime the greater charity is to not reward the villains.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 12:45 | 3329816 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

It takes a village..... Maybe hitlary can run on that apocryphal(ie made up to suit) "African" folk wisdom.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 12:53 | 3329844 Bingfa
Bingfa's picture

It's not "In the realm of reality" for the masses....

80% of people won't survive a collapse

                Could be just what "they" want....

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:02 | 3329869 centerline
centerline's picture

Is what is most likely coming.  One way or another.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 17:24 | 3330772 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

And this bothers you/us 'How'?  Are you for independence & self sufficiency or not?

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 14:47 | 3330265 NewAmericaNow
NewAmericaNow's picture

In a free society charity is given from the heart by choice not required by the state or community. Taxation of personal income is a very recent event and was for a great deal of time voluntary. In my opinion, anything but voluntary is theft by govt. Working for others is fine but what is more important is removing the obsticles of regulation from individuals so they can work for themselves. As far as operating a taxable restaurant, this type of senario would hurt other businesses that do not have the stream of money to fund it and thus would be at a disadvantage in that senario. The unfunded business owner would be unemployed through the unforseen consequences of this restaurant operation. Allow people to open restaurants and feed people without permits or inpections. This of course only applies to people and not corporations. Allow people to educate themselves through apprenticeship instead of putting out graduates in debt with diploma in hand and no common sense. Free the people and they will be fine. Trap them under the thumb of regulation and kill them by suffocation.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 12:28 | 3329766 davidsmith
davidsmith's picture

"Membership entails privileges that are dependent on fulfilling duties, guidelines and responsibilities. Failure to comply with the guidelines or evasion of responsibilities leads to dismissal from the group. This is the core of membership: it can be revoked if the membership privileges or other members are abused."

 

This argument has been around forever, and is as question-beggining as it has ever been.

 

By the way, Schumpeter thought Hitler would immediately fall from power.  And Rome didn't collapse: it split into two empires, one headquartered at Constantinople and the other at Trier.

 

Why does ZH run articles by ignorant immature people?  Because it is operated by ignorant immature people.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 12:33 | 3329780 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Let's just have 'ThunderDome' instead, then if you 'bust the Membership deal', you've got to 'face the wheel'...at least it would provide entertainment.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 12:56 | 3329851 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

You insult the memory of the livestock who grazed over the centuries amongst the ruins of the Forum.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:10 | 3329903 JOYFUL
JOYFUL's picture

A stunning tour de force of logic in action...

and a succinct summary of all we need to know about both past and future!

Rome's reduction into two rump remainders, which, relative to the size of the "EMPIRE" were little more than city states with Imperial pretension, has now been revealed to be no more than a 'consolidation,' or perhaps, a downsizing to a more efficiently managed nucleus>>>???

Will a break up of the USA  from a 'civil war 2.0' will be equally able to enjoy recasting as a mere parting of ways???... and competing capitals in say, Charleston and Boston, Seattle and LA will be seen as 'competitive restructuring by the marketplace'..... or some such semantic shuffle???

"Why does ZH run articles by ignorant immature people?" ...this piece was pretty dumb, but your deadly diatribe against reason and historical record was magnitudes dumber.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 12:32 | 3329782 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

anyone seeing what is going on in Brooklyn? It's falling apart now.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 12:40 | 3329796 Suisse
Suisse's picture

I had to google it, I had no idea there were riots going on there. MSM hasn't reported that at all.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 12:47 | 3329827 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Nothing to see here folks, move along, these are not the news stories you are looking for.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 14:37 | 3330112 TPTB_r_TBTF
TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

.

 

A 16-year-old aspiring sociopath pulls a gun, aims it at cops and is shot to death in response.

Then gang members, to mark his passing, go on to trash the neighborhood — looting a pharmacy and beating at least two innocent people in the process.

 

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 14:49 | 3330274 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

one specter pass would dry that shit up ricky-tick.

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 16:46 | 3330630 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Sounds a little indiscriminate. How bout some little birds with miniguns? That's what they resorted to back in the mog.

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