Superman, That Good-for-Nothing Socialist

If Superman were a real American, he’d have proposed super-tax cuts, not super-welfare:

Old comic: "Superman says 'Hop on the Welfare Wagon!'"

2 replies on “Superman, That Good-for-Nothing Socialist”

The big problem with this comic is that it lumps together private charity and government job programs when there is a large difference between the two. A private charity can only continue to exist by the voluntary donations of individuals. A government job program such as a public health care bureacracy (whether “good” or “bad”) will continue to collect taxes whether its goal is accomplished well or not at all. Should the public believe that private heath efforts and government health efforts are synonymous? I don’t think so.

Thane, a big problem with your comment is that it lumps together public accountability and donor accountability when there is a large difference between the two. It is not at all unknown for government programs to get scrapped if they completely fail to meet their objectives. There are exceptions, but these are most often the programs that it would be politically suicidal to scrap (because they have public support, which means that, as private charities, they’d have little difficulty raising the necessary funds to support their operations). It’s probably also worth noting that most hospitals in Canada and the United States are operated as private companies (typically charities or non-profits).

Government often makes considerable contributions (sometimes going as far as providing universal health insurance out of its tax base) because there are substantially beneficial health-related activities that just don’t captivate the public interest enough to generate the resources that they need (e.g. controlling the spread of disease through epidemiological research, and quarantines, rather than healing diseases that people have already caught). Generally speaking, you can prevent a disease for a small fraction of the cost of curing it, but folks who didn’t get sick in the first place don’t write gushing testimonies of gratitude that you can include in your next fundraising campaign. In a related, but non-health matter, social housing projects invariably reduce criminal justice/corrections costs by more than the cost of the housing.

When it isn’t hamstrung by free-market ideologues (or other ideologues for that matter), government’s funding to its bureaucracies and their programming is very often a saavy investment to reduce the costs of maintaining the basic social order. Or in the case of health care, it’s establishing a policy that people pay for particular services that are actually cheaper than the alternatives. People left to their own devices are nowhere near the rational or enlightened actors that libertarians and neoconservatives would like to believe in. One need only note that early Mosaic law had to explicitly prescribe that the Israelites not burn their children alive as a sacrifice to Moloch (Lev 18:21,20:2-5) to see that this sort ridiculous behaviour is very probably as old as humankind itself.

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