Moral Dilemma: Should a Libertarian Who Does Not Need Food Stamps, but Qualifies for Them, Take Them?
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Here's the moral dilemma of the day:
Suppose you are a staunch Libertarian, doing reasonably well and you don't need food stamps. Yet, under perverse rules, you qualify for them. Should you take them?
Reader Steven faces that exact question. Steven writes ...
Hi MishDo What's Best For Your Family
In response to your article 40% of U.S. on Welfare; Obamacare Expands Welfare by 23 Million; More on Welfare Than Full-Time-Employed I confess my own moral dilemma.
I am the beneficiary of trusts left to me by my parents. They are not huge, but they sustain me and my children. I prefer to spend time with my kids rather than pursue regular employment.
Until the beginning of this year, I was purchasing my own health insurance under a high deductible plan, that cost nearly $300 per month. It had risen steadily from $169 when I first obtained it two years ago. On December 31, my plan was essentially made illegal, with another plan costing nearly $600 put in its place.
I didn't have that much of a medical budget so I cancelled the plan. Three months later and in desperation for coverage, I spoke with an insurance agent who was sure, based on what I was telling her, that I would not qualify for Obamacere subsidies, but I would qualify for Medicaid which was a "better' program as it covers more services. She told me to march down to Medicaid with all my documentation and apply for coverage, which I did.
Because my trusts make all the money, my personal income is well below poverty line. Nevertheless I live quite comfortably. All the same, they eliminated the asset test for both Medicaid and food stamps, and am now receiving both.
I told my social worker the truth. I do not want to deal with a benefits fraud rap.
Because I have two dependent teens in my home, I now receive almost $500 per month for food in addition to the Medicaid coverage, which is pretty convenient. You should see the look on the cashiers' faces when, after paying for my food with the EBT card, I then pay for the non-food items with an American Express card, or even my black Visa card.
On the minus side, there are very few doctors in San Francisco worth visiting who accept Medi-Cal. I have yet to choose a doctor or a plan, and have been on the phone with state assemblymen and the Medi-cal ombudsman seeking better healthcare alternatives.
I wish I could just go back to my old, lousy plan that didn't pay for more than half of anything but which was accepted almost everywhere.
As a Libertarian, I face a moral dilemma. Should I accept benefits I don't really need?
In the case of Medicaid, I have to, or else live without coverage and/or be penalized by the IRS. But in regards to free food money, I am in a quandary.
This is also is a great story, which is why I am relating it to you now. Nothing says "broken" more than a welfare system that gives trust fund kids EBT cards.
Thanks for your awesome blog. I read it regularly.
My advice is simple: In general, you should do what is best for you and your family as long as it is legal.
I offered the same advice in regards to "Walking Away".
- February 07, 2008: Moral Obligations Of Walking Away
- June 05, 2009: Walking Away Revisited - Reader Mailbag - Moral Dilemma
- January 16, 2010: Walking Away Goes Mainstream; Yes It's OK; Moral Obligations Yet Again
- August 29, 2010: Email From "Morally Conflicted" One Year Later After Walking Away
Comments from a Staunch Libertarian
I pinged Steven's question off Pater Tenebrarum at the Acting Man blog. Pater is one of the staunchest libertarians one could possibly find.
Pater replies ...
Ayn Rand has once addressed this question in the context of "should you accept research grants from the government". Essentially, her point is this: If the government has taken your taxes, you have every right to receive some restitution. Why should only the supporters of redistribution and statism get something, and you be left nothing but a paying victim?Take the Money and Run
So if your correct libertarian viewpoint is that you have been robbed, then getting something back is nothing but you claiming back some of what has been looted from you. You weren't in agreement with your wealth being appropriated by force, so it is only fair to get some restitution, however small.
There is no moral dilemma. Take the money and run.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock