With all the recent debates over the federal sequester, a dose of economic theory is in order to explain how social welfare programs are damaging to all individuals, the poor included.
You would not like it very much if an individual robbed you. However, in the political market, when you are robbed, it is masked by romantic, political terminology such as taxing for the benefit of the general welfare. The truth is, however, that these actions are both a form of stealing. The only difference is one is direct stealing; the other is indirect stealing subjected to legal protection or a different set of rules.
Politicians are self-interested, just the same as all other individuals. Their goal is to maximize their vote count so they can continue to acquire more income. Income is a form of private property. You own your income and can do with it whatever you please so long as it does not violate another individual’s right to life and property. Because politicians only represent a select number of individuals, their goal is to steal as much from individuals they do not represent and transfer it to their constituents. This is what we call public choice in economics.
Now think about that fact for a moment. When I listen to individuals talk about their favorite politicians in Washington County, one point they always bring up is that they do beneficial things for the area. However, if every politician from every district in the country is attempting to maximize their vote count by redistributing income from other districts to his or her own, then all you have is a never-ending chain of political expropriation. As soon as you receive money in your back pocket, there is someone else waiting behind you to take it. We need to remember that without the right to our own life and our own property, we have no other rights that we can act on. The idea that an individual’s earned income is property of the state, by all definitions of slavery, makes individuals slaves to the state. We should be freeing individuals to make the choices they want to make.
If you believe you know what is best for other people better than they know themselves, then you are thinking like a dictator in all senses of the term. If individuals cannot make their own choices with their own private property, everyone is worse off, there is a disincentive to work, and everyone, in the end, becomes poor. If politicians truly believed in what they promote, they would reach into their own pocket to give to those in need rather than using other people’s property to accomplish the task. That action represents true caring.