A Guaranteed Basic Income? A Proven Failure!

Welfare programs throughout the Western world have never been able to avoid the moral hazard that arises from the fact that when you keep giving people something for nothing, they stop trying to earn it for themselves.

The classic examples are such as welfare programs that immediately create dependency on government handouts – a dependency that all too often becomes inter-generational.  Another is the American AFDC program – Aid to Families With Dependent Children – which aimed to help young mothers by giving them a monthly payment per-child.

The result? One of the rules was that if there was a father/husband living in the home, the money was cut off. So … guess what? Poor people are not so stupid. They soon realized that they could get more money by having more babies out of wedlock, and by ensuring their boyfriends were not caught living with them. The unintended, but disastrous consequence was that the AFDC program created more fatherless babies and more dependency on government.

But many Western governments could not – still cannot –  resist flirting with the idea of a so-called Universal Basic Income, or a Negative Income Tax (NIT), or what is sometimes coyly called a “basic income supplement.” That’s a fancy expression for a graduated subsidy, by which recipients receive a cash payment to bring them up to a specified average income level. Theoretically, this is designed to replace all other welfare benefits – as well as the considerable load of bureaucracy that comes along with it. What toying with this idea amounts to is a recognition by governments that welfare doesn’t work – “so let’s just give them the money!”

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My First Podcast Is Up Now

Please go to “Podcasts” on the Home page of this website, and click the media-bar to hear my first ever Podcast.  I hope it is clear, informative, and makes sense.

I have done many hundreds of media interviews in my life as an author, but this is my first Podcasting effort. And I think I am going to enjoy it a lot – eventually. Seems to be the way of the future. But honestly, it is a little more difficult than I imagined, because unlike a live interview, where I get to engage with real people, see their reactions, hear their thoughts as we discuss or debate a topic, podcasting alone is, well, a little lonely.

Okay, there is a lovely view of nature outside my window, But basically, I sit in my study alone and speak into a microphone to no one, and have to fiddle with recording details as I go, and hope I don’t mess it up.

So if you do listen, please let me know if you think this is a worthwhile venture, because if it is, I will plan more of them.

 

How Physician-Assisted Suicide Leads to “Involuntary-Euthanasia”

Here is a particularly moving warning that laws allowing physician-assisted suicide, almost immediately lead to laws allowing “involuntary-euthanasia”: the State legalizing the killing of people who have never agreed they want to die – the old, the infirm, the mentally-disturbed, and more. Of course, all the democracies of the Western world have been doing this for decades now, in the form of abortion, which is just pediatric euthanasia.

From: The Daily Signal

Physician-Assisted Suicide in Hawaii Is an Attack on All of Us

 by Monica Burke, April 16, 2018

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Earlier this month, Hawaii became the sixth state in the U.S. to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

Proponents of the law hail the move as a step toward “death with dignity,” but this could not be further from the truth. Physician-assisted suicide is a direct attack on human dignity.

Every human life has value, not because of what one does, but because of who one is—made for reason, freedom, to love, and to be loved. Physician-assisted suicide cuts at the heart of human dignity by dismissing some lives as not worth living.

The idea that some human beings are disposable shakes the very foundations of a free and equal society. Physician-assisted suicide sets off a chain reaction that extends well beyond the health care context. It harms all of society in a host of ways—it corrupts the practice of medicine, destroys relationships, and paves the way for even greater evils.

This practice of discarding human life turns the practice of medicine upside down: Instead of preserving the life and promoting the comfort of the patient, it prematurely ends the life of the patient.

In corrupting the meaning of medicine, physician-assisted suicide compromises the patient-doctor relationship. When medical healers are also agents of death, patients can no longer trust that their physician will be unilaterally committed to their life and health.

Physician-assisted suicide further damages the broader health care context by giving insurance providers perverse incentives to provide a “cheap fix” for patients who require additional, more expensive care.

Physician-assisted suicide also leaves patients vulnerable to pressure to end their lives, not only from their doctor or insurance provider but from family members. Families have intergenerational responsibilities to look after the young, the sick, and the aged. But the normalization of physician-assisted suicide destroys these intergenerational ties by encouraging families to view the elderly or disabled as burdens, a view which patients may then internalize themselves.

This weakening of the young’s obligations to the old harms culture on a grand scale. Communities are made up of families, and as individual attitudes shift away from providing care to relatives in need, so too our society shifts away from an attitude of compassion toward those who are suffering.

Even beyond these negative cultural effects, the laws themselves often come with gravely insufficient safeguards for patients.

For instance, Hawaii’s new law requires waiting periods, witnesses to written requests, and sign-offs from physicians, yet these do little to protect patients from the pressure to kill themselves and other forms of abuse.

When he signed the Hawaii physician-assisted suicide into law, Democratic Gov. David Ige said, “It is time for terminally ill, mentally competent Hawaii residents who are suffering to make their own end-of-life choices with dignity, grace, and peace.”

But why stop at the terminally ill? The mentally incompetent? When ending one’s life is considered a valid and even ideal option for those who are suffering, why deny that option to others who may be suffering less? Surely anyone who wants to die is already suffering to some degree. Why should they not have the same right to die?

Now that Hawaii has accepted the principle of physician-assisted suicide, there is a clear logical path toward extending it to more and more people—not just to those who choose to die, but also to those society or family believes should die. There is no natural, logical limit to who qualifies for physician-assisted suicide, and pretty soon, the “death with dignity” mentality will expand to include euthanasia.

This has already happened in many European countries that have legalized physician-assisted suicide. Examining the state of physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel wrote in Atlantic Monthly:

The Netherlands studies fail to demonstrate that permitting physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia will not lead to the non-voluntary euthanasia of children, the demented, the mentally ill, the old, and others. Indeed, the persistence of abuse and the violation of safeguards, despite publicity and condemnation, suggest that the feared consequences of legalization are exactly its inherent consequences.

You heard that right: Non-voluntary euthanasia follows almost immediately upon physician-assisted suicide—perhaps even by design.

Wherever it is legalized, physician-assisted suicide sets a troubling precedent for public policy by undermining equality before the law. If our legal system treats a subgroup of people as eligible to be killed, it would seriously compromise the natural right not to be killed. Where might this disturbing legal precedent lead?

A lot is at stake in the debate over physician-assisted suicide. The immediate victims are the most vulnerable in society—the sick and elderly.

But that also means every last one of us is vulnerable: It is only a matter of time before each one of us ages and dies. How many years until our own lives are deemed less valuable?

Ultimately, we all suffer in a culture that fails to honor the dignity of every single human life. We do ourselves a disservice when we fail to empathize with those who are suffering, to do our duty by those entrusted to our care.

There is still time to reverse course. But we must act now before laws like those in Hawaii become the new norm.

 

Our Post-Christian World

This is a reply to a member of our discussion group who is a professing Christian (we also have some humanists, atheists, a Muslim, and so on) and who despairs of the world he sees decaying around him:
You have asked: what a Christian is to do?

I get the sense that unless they are narrow-minded Bible-thumpers, and oblivious to the world around them,  Christians are as disoriented as everybody else in a civilization that has been losing its common ground.

For me, a good metaphor for the binding power of any viable cultural/theological/moral belief system is the image of innumerable iron filings thrown upon a table.

At first, they all lie in different directions, disconnected from each other. But, as soon as you put a Big Magnet under the table, they all immediately align and point in the same direction – toward a common center. A common deep culture – cultural/theological/moral, operates just like such a Big Magnet on the hearts and minds of all the people.
But the Big Magnet of western civilization, under attack for so long now, has been losing its pulling power. So, sensing this, and fearing the dangers of moral and cultural fragmentation, the political class invented the idea of putting hundreds of smaller magnets under the table, hoping they would have the same pulling power as one Big Magnet.
But immediately, with no common pull, the people turned in hundreds of different directions, each group hewing unto it’s own kind.
It was a good try, and faced with the fact that, as the poet Yeats wrote, “the center cannot hold,” any one of us might have proposed this as a desperate last-ditch unifying strategy.
 All we have is lots of smaller magnets under the table now, and the de-centering this causes in the public mind is likely a natural and predictable stage on the way down. There’s a lot of hopeful, if often fake rejoicing in our differences.
But everyone knows there is no Big Magnet any longer, and there will not likely be one again in our lifetime.

Background To Our Divided World

What follows is drawn from the very first part of The Great Divide: Why Liberals And Conservatives Will Never, Ever Agree (Encounter 2015), and is an attempt to contrast the way we are today, with how we began.

Seems like almost every news item today is an echo of these underlying contrasts and themes.

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Not so long ago it was common at a dinner party with family and friends to find ourselves drawn into discussion and debate over the political and moral topics of the day. There was usually a lot of strong feeling, praise for good arguments, some good-natured ridicule for bad ones, and of course heated support of one’s own ideas. But I cannot remember any violent personal attacks, tears, or “outrage” over someone else’s point of view, however wacky it may have seemed, and that was because no one interpreted disagreement as offensive. Most striking of all, I think most people then were unafraid to state their own views, even happy to volunteer them. There wasn’t the slightest hint of “political correctness” in the air. We assumed that was a moral disease of the Red Chinese, a million of whom I remember seeing displayed on a center-fold of Life magazine in Tiananmen Square, all in black communist uniforms, all waving Chairman Mao’s Red Book fanatically in the air. The mere notion of “Human Rights Tribunals” (such as we have now in most Western nations) set up by governments to “re-educate” and to control or punish thought and speech in a free country, was simply unthinkable. We were quite aware that many post-war immigrants fled from the disease of totalitarianism to the “free” world to escape that very thing. But the disease followed them.

A similar dinner party today is a very different story, almost certain to illustrate The Great Divide that is the topic of this book. The elephant in the room, as the saying goes, will almost certainly be an unspoken awareness that there are a lot of political, social, and moral “issues” that most are afraid to mention. The silence – who has not felt it? — tells everyone to keep their true thoughts to themselves. Share only unimportant, or even insincere thoughts. This may be typical in the company of complete strangers, about whom we may care nothing. But to find it true among family, friends, and in our own close communities is very new and very sad, for it tells us that civil society, if not quite at an end, is comatose; that we are becoming strangers to each other. This book is one man’s effort to change this situation; to help people become unafraid once again.

I hasten to add that it is not a book about politics or political parties — fickle things at the best of times. For I believe that the political history of the West (which we assume is being decided by all the party, policy, and election language with which we get bombarded), is in fact an outcome of a much deeper and less obvious ideological warfare. Volcanoes and earthquakes are a surface sign of invisible geological forces, just as shifts in the political, social, and moral world are surface signs of invisible ideological forces.

The Clash within Western Civilization

In his bestselling book The Clash of Civilizations (1996) Samuel Huntington warned us about the clashes to come between the West and other, incompatible civilizations. The attacks by puritanical Islamists on our deeply-secularized, overly-sexualized, highly-materialistic culture on “9/11” and since, have borne out his predictions.

This book, however, is more concerned about a much less obvious, but more pervasive war of moral and political ideals within Western civilization itself, because from Pittsburgh to Paris, Buenos Aires to Buffalo, Vancouver to Venice, we have been engaged in a civil war of values and principles for a very long time. At bottom, it is a war between two incompatible political cultures, or enemy ideologies concerning the best way to live that I suspect with a little effort may be found simmering beneath the surface of all civilizations, waxing or waning as historical circumstances allow.

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The “Wage Gap” Between Men and Women Is Phony

It is simply astonishing to realize how very gullible Western publics are, and how dunned by “progressives” into falsely believing there is some kind of systemic plot afoot to pay women less than men.

What follows is drawn from The Trouble With Canada … Still! (2010). It is a discussion of the false reasoning and even more false numbers underlying the male-female “Wage Gap” and also the reasons for the “Bachelor Wage Gap” and the “Ethnic Wage Gap” (which will likely never be brought to public attention because they undermine the radical case for “discrimination.”

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Feminists argue that there is a wage gap between the earnings of men and women (which is true, and always has been), and that much of this difference is proof of wage discrimination based on sex. But that is a plainly misleading and dishonest thing to say, because the biggest reason for the difference in male/female earnings today, is marriage. That is because marital status has an asymmetrical effect on earnings by sex, as the economists say.

In plain English: let’s suppose a man and a woman are working side by side and earning the same wage. They fall in love and decide to get married and raise a family. Suddenly something absolutely normal happens. Visions of children dance in their heads, along with simultaneous worries. If both think even the best daycare is impersonal—“there’s no way a stranger’s going to raise our kids.”—then they worry immediately about how in the world they are going to give their children personal attention and both work full time as well. Will her boss still keep her on if she asks for part-time work? He worries about mortgages, university education, clothing, food, and thinks: “Good Lord—I’m going to need a better job.” The result of this totally predictable equation is that she reduces her work hours, or quits altogether, or quits and then takes a part-time job. And he? Well, the pressure is on. He arranges an appointment with his boss and lets him know in no uncertain terms that the promotion he wasn’t so sure about last month . . . well, he’s had a serious change of heart. In fact, given a chance, he’d love to run the whole department. When this occurs millions of times over, and you average their respective earnings, you have the makings of a “wage gap.” But the crucial factor is not sex discrimination. It’s the laudable preferential choices made by both parties in favour of marriage and their children.

Read on to learn about the surprising “Bachelor” wage gap, and the “Ethnic” wage gap.

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The Rich Get Richer … And So Do The Poor!

Here is a 5-minute video from PragerU on the best-kept secret of the Western world, which is the dramatic drop in world-wide poverty rates that has occurred over the last half-century. Generally speaking, if you want to know the doubling-rate in the wealth of any nation, just take the average rate of national economic growth and divide it into the number 72. So, if a country grows at an average rate of 2% annually, say, its wealth will double in 36 years.

https://www.prageru.com/videos/rich-get-richer-poor-get-richer

The message is that “all boats go up in a rising tide.” Okay, maybe not every single boat. Some just have too many holes, and they sink. And in a decent society, we don’t let them sink. But generally speaking, the rise in wealth in the free – and free-enterprise – countries of the world over the last half-century, is simply astonishing.  But why is this such a well-kept secret?

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How Ideology Perverts the Teaching of Law

This article, by Professor Bruce Pardy of Queen’s University Law School, is a must read, as they say. In it, he clearly explains the difference between a School teaching the principles of the Law, and a School teaching the Law as a weapon advancing the teacher’s personal political and moral ideology.
 
The article has a certain ring for me, because in 1990, the year my book The Trouble With Canada was published (and to my surprise became #1 in Canada in a few months time), I was invited by the Queen’s University Grad Students’ Law Society to participate in a public debate with Professor Sheila MacIntyre, then a prominent radical feminist law professor. 
 
I put “teaching” in quotes, because you cannot say someone is really teaching if she advances only her own preferences and biases in the readings and lectures she provides to her students.  
 
When I was teaching at York University in the 1970s, some of the courses I taught included segments on ideological topics such as Marxism, Existentialism, Psychology, and so on. I always tried to present all sides of each question. But some of the students would protest, and on whatever the issue of the day may have been, would ask plaintively: “But Sir … What do you think?”  
 
I always answered: “I am not telling you until after the course has ended. It’s my job to explain all sides as best I can. It is your job to think deeply about these things and then make up your own mind as to the best answer(s) to these questions.” This response always upset them a little. But by the end of the course, they could see why it was the best for their own intellectual development. 
 
Now, back to my visit to Queen’s University, and my public debate with Sheila. 

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Darwin Was Wrong!

I have just finished reading a wonderful biography of Charles Darwin by the illustrious British historian and biographer A.N, Wilson, entitled Charles Darwin: Victorian Mythmaker (London: Harper Collins, 2017).The moment I saw the cover I was intrigued, because Wilson is such a thorough researcher and writer I knew this was going to be a wonderful read.

So … Imagine the jolt with respect to this still- controversial topic when I flipped to the first page and read Wilson’s opening sentence: “Darwin was wrong” – a sentence one would have expected to find at the very end of such a book, rather than at the beginning.

But he spends the next 500+ pages peeking very closely into Darwin’s personal, intellectual, religious, family, and working life, explaining in exquisite detail why he came to the conclusion that Darwin was quite wrong.

Wilson is entirely aware of the massive pro-Darwinian world in which we now live. Nevertheless, he quietly goes about the business of taking the ideological building of Darwinian ideas, the architecture of his thought, so to speak, apart, brick by brick. By the end, there is mostly rubble.

And there is a classic ad hominem scene described in the book, the moment when a debater tries to undermine an opponent’s arguments by attacking him personally, rather than sticking to the arguments put forth. The scene went as follows.

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