Here is a recent picture someone posted on Facebook, and the ensuing conversation:

A: hmmm…i can honestly say i’ve encountered such a supposition. you?

B: well, the first part refers to a voluntary action. It is commendable to voluntarily choose to help your fellow man – perhaps even ‘saintly.’

the second part loosely implies that you support the use of force (government), in that poverty can be solved by forcing people to give their time/energy/property to the less fortunate.

voluntary interaction is completely moral – helping the poor should be promoted, encouraged, persuaded, taught, and anything else that could compel a person to voluntarily give. On the other hand, there is no virtue in government coercion or force.

A: while I totally agree, the leap for me is that the use of governmental intervention wouldn’t be necessary if the well-off were already being so saintly.

B: Right right, but we must as a society eventually come to terms with the fact that resorting to the use of force and guns is never justified. It’s kind of like saying, I wouldn’t have to hit my wife if she would just love me on her own, or I wouldn’t have to hit my kids if they would just respect me…when in fact the hitting is never morally justified. The way to get what you want is through persuasion, education, and negotiation, just like most people were taught in kindergarten. It’s not ok to hit someone when they don’t do what you want. If people gave up resorting to government threats, laws, and guns when they don’t get what they want…even when what they want seems so right – the increase in peace and prosperity for everyone would be unimaginable.

No person or charity walks around on the sidewalks with guns and/or handcuffs threatening the people who pass to get what they want – it’s inhumane. But here is the biggest kicker of the past several centuries: with the creation of the thing called “government,” we have created a loophole whereby we now have a system to outsource the initiation of force on others to get what we want – all while retaining our humanity and a clean conscience. We have created and hired the government to do the immoral and inhumane things we would never do ourselves – all under the guise of patriotism, and the “collective good.” No person would go with guns to their rich neighbor’s house and demand they give you 10% of their bank account for the cause you support. But almost everybody will gladly support the passing of a government “law” that raises your neighbor’s taxes 10% to support the war in Libya, or the poor people, or whatever cause each person supports – and if your neighbor doesn’t fork over his money, people will eventually show up with handcuffs, and guns – it just won’t be you with the guns this time, it’ll be people whom you’ve hired.

When people realize this, that the government is simply an institution that we’ve created to transcend our own humanity, there will actually be hope for society.

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