Who Holds the Mortgage on Your Life?

Q: Dr. Hurd, what’s so bad about the welfare state? A compassionate society takes care of its own. Conservatives and liberals agree on this point, morally speaking. When I see a homeless person, I hardly think of such a terrible existence as the person’s choice. Do you?

A: The premise here that no homeless person is in any way responsible for his plight, and that he’s a total victim, is untenable. But I’ll grant the premise anyway. Is the plight of a homeless person a mortgage on my life? Am I obliged to suffer and sacrifice and give up some, all or most of my income so that it can be transferred to the homeless person? If so, how much of my income must be transferred — and why? Why not 70 percent of my income instead of 30 percent? Why not 100 percent? How do you reconcile a ‘free country’ with the reality of a government that forces you to give up much, most or even all of your income for the sake of another—keeping in mind that the government keeps a HUGE cut of this for themselves, their nice offices, their perks and their never-ending salary increases?