Today’s political climate is so muddled with doublespeak and doublethink that it’s difficult to have any meaningful conversation. Consider the term progressive. The term indicates a forward movement for society that will hopefully mean a better future for everybody. People who identify themselves as progressives generally claim a desire to support the poor through government programs. They tend to advocate universal healthcare, a guaranteed living wage, welfare, and other programs supposedly aimed at ensuring everybody has the bare necessities of survival. In practice their goals tend to oppose one another.
One of the demographics often exploited by modern progressives is the homeless population. Progressives often claim that they want more government programs to help the homeless. Helping the homeless is a noble cause that I want to see society embrace. However, unlike progressives, I want to see voluntary methods used. Voluntary methods tend to avoid the hypocrisy that runs rampant in statist solutions. On the one hand progressives claim to want to support the homeless, on the other hand they support programs that make it difficult or impossible to help the homeless. There have been numerous instances where state officials used force to stop individuals from providing food to the homeless. Most of these instances were done under the guises of health safety. State officials claimed that there was no way to ensure the donated food met nutritional or safety standards. Instead of being allowed to partake in the generosity of giving individuals the homeless were forced to go hungry because some government thug in a city health department didn’t issue a stamp of approval.
Such an outcome in inevitable when medical costs are paid by the state. As I explained in my post about the state and its love of surveillance, the state has a vested interest in keeping its costs down. Programs that return little, no, or, worst of all, negative profit are either axed or retools to be more profitable. Military might, by allowing the state to expropriate from other states, and police, by allowing the state to expropriate locally, will always receive priority for funding. Healthcare, on the other hand, would normally cost the state money. In order to get around this issue states have done several things. First, most states that claim to offer universal healthcare also maintain an ever diminishing list of covered operations. Second, those states generally maintain a skeleton crew in the healthcare sector meaning the wait time for operations becomes great (and if you die the state doesn’t have to foot the bill for your operation). Third, and for this post most importantly, these states implement regulations aimed at reducing their healthcare costs. Any behavior that may incur healthcare costs by the state are made illegal. New York, being one of the most progressive cities in the United States, has continuously implemented prohibitions aimed at reducing the state’s healthcare costs. The most famous prohibition was the one placed on the sale of sugary drinks exceeding 16 ounces.
In addition to axing or retooling unprofitable programs the state also tries to shed itself of unprofitable population. A homeless individual, being without income and able to buy very little, is unprofitable for the state. They generally pay no income tax and very little, if any, sales or use taxes. Compounding the issue is their general lack of possessions. If you have a home, a bank account, or any other property you have value that the state can seize from you. Therefore you, in the eyes of the state, are profitable population. Just as a dairy farmer has an interest in maintaining the health of his dairy cattle the state has an interest in maintaining your health, so long as you’re not consuming so many of its available resources that you become unprofitable (in other words if you actually need a major medical operation the state would rather see you dead).
Here is where things come full circle. In the hopes of reducing healthcare costs the state ends up waging war against the homeless. In the state’s eyes donated food is a potential healthcare cost because it has set itself up to cover the healthcare costs of those who don’t have insurance or possession to seize. Homeless individuals don’t have insurance or possessions so the state is literally better off if the homeless are dead. Preventing the homeless of eating donated food reduces the state’s infinitesimal risk of caring for uninsured individuals who have nothing to steal. If homeless individuals end up starving to death the state has shed unprofitable population. In other words shutting down programs aimed at providing food for the homeless is a win-win for the state.
Herein lies the problem with progressives: their goals are mutually exclusive. By involving the state in healthcare progressives ensure that the state wages a war against the homeless. Voluntary methods of providing healthcare and helping the poor don’t suffer from such conflict of interests because the interests of the people involve is to help those in need. In other words those donating food to feed the homeless are doing so because they want to help feed the homeless. Since they’re not expropriating wealth they don’t suffer from helping those without wealth. I believe that most self-declared progressives mean well but their strategy ensures that their expressed goals will never be accomplished. Only through voluntary cooperation can people help one another. Once the voluntary component is removed costs will inevitably be faced by those who don’t want to face them. At that point the primary focus moves away from helping those in need to reducing costs.