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Welfare Source

The separation of taxes and welfare makes it easy for people to accept money from the government without experiencing any moral conflict. This parable exposes that conflict.

Imagine that you are a single parent with health problems and few job skills trying to go to school, raise children, and earn a living at the same time. You are just the sort of person who deserves welfare.

Imagine that I am a wealthy benefactor who has sympathy for your situation. I drop in every week with a $200 check to help you to survive and work toward your goals. I ask nothing in return and we become friends. Every week I stay and we talk for a while. This goes on for months. You are genuinely thankful for my assistance and I am genuinely happy to see your progress. All is well.

One afternoon while we are talking you ask me what I do for a living.

I explain that I am a mugger. I choose my victims at random, grab them from behind, hold a knife to their throats, and demand their money. I take about half their money, keep most of it for myself, and give the rest to needy people. I rarely kill anyone because most people don't resist.

Does this new information change the way you feel about the $200?

The same government that gives welfare takes, with threats of violence, half the money we earn. They keep most of it for themselves and give some to needy people. They rarely kill anyone because most people don't resist.