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Some people believe that you shouldn’t accept handouts. In the UK, I think that these are most often pensioners, and that most people who are baby boomers and younger who don’t take the state benefits that they are entitled to, don’t realise that they are entitled. In Trent’s post on how to escape the minimum wage, there were a few comments where people basically said that they were too proud to accept handouts from the government or elsewhere.

I strongly disagree with this sentiment. I don’t think you are big and clever for not taking money you are entitled to. I think you are dumb. I feel like saying, ‘don’t think not taking money gets you out of society’s obligations’. Refusing government handouts is like deliberately paying too much tax. You didn’t write the system, they will not spend your money on more important things, I can guarantee that they will pay for things that you don’t approve of. If you take the money then you can choose where to spend it.

Yes, on balance you are a more economically successful individual if you put in more than you take out. But that’s over your whole lifetime. You almost certainly can’t do it for every single instant across your whole life. I mean between the ages of 5 and 18, we the taxpayers paid a fortune for your schooling, more than you were earning at the time. If accepting benefits means that you can improve your life, you don’t go for days without food, you don’t ruin your health, then for the good of everyone, please take it. That’s what its there for.

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25 comments for “accept help”

  1. My parents paid for my schooling - and everyone else’s.

    Your post may require a rebuttal from a conservative. Coming soon. . .

    Posted by rocketc | October 11, 2007, 11:43 pm
  2. “Yes, on balance you are a more economically successful individual if you put in more than you take out. But that’s over your whole lifetime. You almost certainly can’t do it for every single instant across your whole life.”

    This sounds right. I’m not too proud to take a handout, though I do worry sometimes whether or not I’m qualified. Particularly, I’m thinking about going to a clinic for some anti-depressants. I think I qualify, with no insurance, technically no job (temp), etc. But I worry that I’d be taking something that someone poorer should have. :-/

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | October 12, 2007, 1:42 am
  3. @Mrs Micah:
    I don’t think you should worry too much about whether there is someone poorer. Undoubtedly there is, but if you qualify and you need the service offered then you should take it because it is aimed at you.

    Posted by plonkee | October 12, 2007, 7:57 am
  4. Our president just vetoed a bill that would have giving health coverage to children of parents who make $82,000 a year - about 3.5 times the poverty line.

    [You] As as progressive, would that have been a good bill or a bad bill?

    Doesn’t a bill like that put more money in the pockets of corporations who no longer have to provide healthcare for their employees?

    Posted by rocketc | October 12, 2007, 5:04 pm
  5. @rocketc
    To be completely honest, I don’t understand the American healthcare system, particularly the way that its tied to employment. I’d vote for universal free healthcare every time.

    I think that a good use of tax is to provide free healthcare for children (at the very least) much like free education is provided - not posh rooms and so on but satisfactory healthcare. Does medicare work in this way for old people?

    Posted by plonkee | October 12, 2007, 8:04 pm
  6. I agree with you, plonkee.

    I have been on unemployment insurance. I don’t see why not. Every pay stub I get, I read the fine print and there is a deduction for it. The purpose of insurance is to protect you from a bad event. When the bad event — in this case unemployment — happens, that’s what the insurance is for. This isn’t charity, this is something I pay for. Just like I pay for tenant’s insurance which will cover me in case of a fire or a theft.

    As for welfare, I don’t pay *specifically* into it, but I do pay my taxes and that’s where the money comes from. (And we are taxed far higher in Canada than in the States.) I pay these taxes willingly because I want there to be a social safety net for when people are in trouble. I don’t begrudge this. If I am ever in a bad position where I would need welfare benefits, I will certainly apply for them.

    Posted by Monica | October 12, 2007, 8:57 pm
  7. I couldn’t agree with you more. This is one of those issues that the US mindset and ours (I’m Irish) is just fundamentally different. I read some of those American blogs - and I’ve lived in North America for a decade - and I just do not understand some of the “I pulled myself up there’s no excuse for anyone else” sentiments.

    Posted by guinness416 | October 14, 2007, 5:47 pm
  8. I’m glad to see that its not me that doesn’t quite get the sentiment. I figured it was a cultural thing and its nice to get some confirmation.

    Posted by plonkee | October 14, 2007, 8:24 pm
  9. I think there is a cultural divide on this issue. When the average European is in trouble they seem to be more likely to look to the government for help. Historically, US citizens have sought to avail themselves of every other option before accepting help from the government. However, I see our nation shifting more toward the entitlement mentality every day. There are some states in the US that are known as havens for “welfare” recipients and people move there just to get a free lunch from the government.

    Posted by rocketc | October 15, 2007, 2:03 am
  10. Europeans aren’t wrong for looking towards the government for help. They have voted in governments that are offering help.

    Posted by plonkee | October 15, 2007, 8:26 am
  11. Yes, and where is that help coming from? The government does not make money. It takes and spends money.

    Socialism eventually bankrupts the central government.

    The divide between the rich and poor in socialism is very large.

    Posted by rocketc | October 15, 2007, 1:49 pm
  12. One more thing - I would be much more in favor of entitlement progams if the recipients were required to work for the government in any way they can while recieving assistance. This could save the government a great deal of money and motivate people to do everything they can to avoid government assistance.

    Posted by rocketc | October 15, 2007, 1:50 pm
  13. Whether socialism always bankrupts a central government remains to be seen. I do not see any of the European Union countries, Canada, Australia or New Zealand (who all operate some socialist policies) going bankrupt any time soon.

    Similarly, in all those countries, the gap between rich and poor is not that great. It is my firm opinion that you have to compare like with like, and in this case it means comparing one post-industrial nation (USA) with another.

    I am not opposed, in principle, to recipients that can working for government assistance. I have yet to see such a scheme implemented that is both fair and cost-effective. Having said that I don’t know how many government schemes ever implemented have been either fair or cost-effective.

    Posted by plonkee | October 15, 2007, 1:58 pm
  14. . . . and there we have the fundamental problem. Government beauracracies are wasteful and keep people in servitude and dependency. I believe that the less a government does (except for personal, civil and federal defense) the better.

    I am not too familiar with New Zealand and Australia, however the running joke in the US right now is, “If Hillary Clinton is elected president and institutes a national healthcare system, where are Canadians going to go in order to get good medical care?”

    It is my understanding than the UK also has two healthcare systems: government healthcare for the average person and exclusive, private care for the rich.

    In the US, our government has completely bungled public education. I can’t imagine what they would do to healthcare.

    Posted by rocketc | October 15, 2007, 2:15 pm
  15. “I don’t think you are big and clever for not taking money you are entitled to. I think you are dumb.”

    I strongly disagree with that blanket statement. Some people are dumb for not taking money, but some people are smart. A lot of it depends on what the person does *afterwards*.

    If you have a personality where when you are given aid you become dependent on it and you will (sub)consciously make bad choices to keep getting that aid, then for your OWN good you should strive to avoid the temptation of ever getting a handout. This is similar to an alcoholic who knows that if he *starts* drinking he won’t be able to stop. That is a real-life personality type and you shouldn’t pretend people like that don’t exist!

    On the other hand, if your personality is such that when help is given to you, it causes you to swell with joy at the spirit of humanity and prompts you to improve yourself so that you can be on the giving end, then by all means take a handout!

    That’s why I don’t think you should insult people who said their pride wouldn’t let them take handouts, because those people really feel that way and it did in fact work out better for them. They made the right choice for themselves.

    At the same time, I don’t think successful people who were once on welfare should be belittled for that, because they had the strength of character to accept handouts for a time and then give them up, which can be a very hard thing for some people.

    The problem is people in both camps *project* their own strengths and weaknesses onto others. They assume that if welfare helped them, it will help everybody; or that if they didn’t need welfare, then nobody does.

    Posted by Jon | October 15, 2007, 7:38 pm
  16. I would like to address the comment that the government has completely bungled education, therefore they would bungle healthcare. That’s a common argument and concern. However, what we Americans fail to realize is that the current private system has tons of inefficiencies and bureaucracy. Health Insurers routinely deny claims and individuals use up a lot of time to dispute payment or claim denials. In my lifetime, I’ve had to fight two different payment denials from two different insurers (one year of letters and documentations). Luckily there were payment issues and not denial of a major surgery. Two co-workers are also fighting payment denials. Health Insurers look for any little reason to deny your claims.

    Posted by win | October 20, 2007, 2:11 am
  17. . . .and you think it would be better with government healthcare? Your experience is unfortunate, but you are dealing with large beauracracies. The solution is not to make it larger.

    The US has the best health care system in the world - despite it’s shortcomings. The US develops almost all of the health care technological, drug, and care advances. Government health care systems do not invest in research and development. Why is it that Canadians are coming over our border in droves in order to have their health needs met?

    Posted by rocketc | October 20, 2007, 12:23 pm
  18. I would just like to address Rocketc’s comment about the two levels of healthcare in the UK. Firstly, not as many wealthy people as you might think, opt for private insurance as they feel they have already paid for the NHS through taxes. Also because there are not many private facilities most private healthcare is delivered in an NHS hospital, with NHS staff, the only real difference is you’ll likely get a private room and the hospital and doctors make more money from you. Having grown up in the UK and now moved to Canada I really appreciate the NHS. I’m considering moving to the states for awhile but the healthcare issues really put me off, as I have a chronic medical condition that would be very costly in the US.

    Posted by Looby | October 20, 2007, 4:18 pm

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