A Libertarian Perspective: Why Welfare Should Be Replaced by Private Charities

Author’s note: this article will be the first of a series I’m calling A Libertarian Perspective in which I choose a controversial topic, in this case, welfare, and write about that topic from a Libertarian point of view. Please feel free to suggest topics in the comment section or email me directly at [email protected]

According to statisticbrain.com, 21.2% of the United States population is on some form of welfare, not including Medicaid. With a population of over 323,000,000 people (and that’s rounding down), that means that roughly 68,000,000 people are on welfare. Statisticbrain.com lists federal welfare spending, not including food stamps or unemployment, at over $158 billion. 16.8% of welfare recipients are white, 39.6% are black, 21.2% are Hispanic, 18% are Asian or Pacific Islander and 4.4% are other/mixed.

I don’t know about you, but this is absolutely infuriating to me. Over $158 billion. BILLION. And where does that money come from? It comes from taxation, government theft of my money and yours.

If I work 40 hours a week, I pay a 13% tax on my income. Actually, I don’t pay taxes. They’re taken from me before I ever even see my paycheck. They’re stolen from me to support others.

Now, I’m sure there are those who will say that 13% isn’t very much and there are others in need who cannot earn enough money to support themselves. However, the amount one pays is irrelevant; theft is theft, and whether I pay 5% or 50%, taxation is immoral and violent. Furthermore, I feel sympathy for those who can’t work or who need extra assistance, but forced charity is not charity. If Bob gives Charlie 13% of his income voluntarily, that is charity. If Barack or Donald hold a gun to Bob’s head, take 13% of his income and give it to Charlie, that is theft.

If you visit welfareinfo.org, you will see that there are twenty different categories for welfare benefits, ranging from child care/support to tax assistance. Some of these, such as disability assistance, disaster relief, healthcare, Social Security and military, are admittedly important things to have. However, any Libertarian should agree that all of these could be better handled in a free and competitive market, rather than a coercive, centralized government. For example, instead of a portion of my earnings going towards supporting people I don’t know who have a disability and can’t work, why not support them with private charity organizations? I would happily donate money whenever I could if I were not already being taxed.

“Well, if you would donate anyway, then why complain?”

Because taxation is not voluntary, but donations are. I should be free to choose what I do or do not support with my own money.

If donations aren’t your thing, there’s always insurance. In a free market, insurance companies could offer disability insurance, childcare insurance, better health insurance, etc. Any type of need would be met in a way that would not require force by government, thus rendering welfare obsolete.

And don’t even get me started on Social Security. I could do another whole article on that. In fact, I might.

So, in short, welfare is nothing more than redistribution of wealth, or theft. Those in legitimate need could have their needs better met by private companies or charities without government involvement, and without forcing others to pay for it.

Thank you for reading A Libertarian Perspective.