What’s Wrong With an Experiment That Gives Cash to Poor People?

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Interesting discussion here.

One response to “What’s Wrong With an Experiment That Gives Cash to Poor People?

  1. When we marry, we prefer one person out of a huge host of possibilities. Are we thereby unfair to all the individuals thus rejected? No. Do we treat them “unequally”? Of course. The fashionable ideological proclivity for egalitarianism is essentially unfounded.

    Selecting some villages leaves some people better off. Does it leave anyone worse off? Obviously it leaves them worse off than the people who do get the money. Since budgets are rarely up to distributing equally to “all”, the egalitarians is thus preferring a situation in which nobody benefit to one in which each at least somebody does. This, I suggest, is immoral.

    There are two arguments for a “downside” to randomly selected cash charity which need importantly to be distinguished. (1) the neighbors might be unhappy; (2) the newly acquired purchasing power might drive prices up.
    Regarding (1): we should surely not be encouraging envy and jealousy. They are vices. A world in which such ideas prevail is bound to be poor and likely miserable.
    Regarding (2): this might be a worry, except for one extremely important thing: our newly “wealthier” (+$20/month!) individuals may not spend the money on consumption, but on investment, which if successful spreads its blessings around the community – quite possibly including DECEASES in prices as the more efficient methods of production come on stream. And even at the level of consumer purchases – well, what happens to the new income accruing to the vendors from whom our beneficiary buys? They too will either spend it, helping some, or invest it, helping many.

    So we should conclude with, prima facie, a big huzzah for this bold new experiment in charitable development.

    Jan Narveson

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