Monday, May 7, 2018

A critique of charity

Halifax Shadow is right.

The customers of charity are the donors, and not the receivers, and thus charity does very little to ameliorate the conditions of the poor, since the true target of charity are the wealthy benefactors that pay for it, and from their lofty position of privilege, these people have very little idea of what the poor actually need. Charity serves to perpetuate poverty by pretending to do something without doing much of anything at all.

As Alrenous points out;
"in a sense the charities with 80%+ administration budgets are less harmful, as they deliver less toxic side-activity."

This is true to an extent; if the poor have less fake help they will spend less time looking for handouts, and more time looking for a job. In a sense, then, charity is predatory: it distracts people from the real task of raising themselves out of poverty during a time in their life when they are most vulnerable, and wastes their time chasing money that is even harder to earn than a paycheck.

Prestige is why liberals hate vouchers, because it turns the poor into customers rather than grovelers, and ruins the prestige/schadenfreude of running charities. It also ruins the opportunity for liberal white women to display their virtue in front of wealthy men, and thus deprives them of the virtue signaling opportunity to meet a rich husband. Like Sailer's Law of Female Journalism, the real target of charity is the bank account of the progressive woman who runs the charity.

A communist wants to turn a whole nation into grovelers, because somehow making elites pander to customers is less equal than making people suck up to commissars. A Marxist nation is an entire economy turned into a charity writ large, so as to maximize the sadistic pleasure of the same types of smug virtue signalers that run our universities. "Here prole, here is your food ration given to you by your superior bugman." Needless to say, this has never really appealed to the proletariat, who would rather take their chances with the capitalist than live under the thumb of the academic. On some level all poor people realize the intellectuals just want to enslave them, and that communism is little more than a ploy to raise the prestige of academics. They have impure intentions towards proles, and their prestige will always require the proles be below so they can be above, and thus the promise of equality never be realized, and always a lie.

In a capitalist system an academic begs for money, but in a communist system the people beg their intellectual superiors for handouts. No wonder college professors like communism so much.

So what is the real cause of poverty? And what do we do about it? Well, poverty exists because some people are unemployable, and these people are unemployable because businesses operate on thin margins, and 1) some people either have so little skills that they are unable to produce at a high enough level to achieve employment, or 2), they are an active financial liability, or 3), the cost of living has been raised so high by artificial means that regular people have fallen into poverty.

Let us break down these three causes;

First cause: low productivity.
Or shall we say, low productivity relative to the cost of living. In this case the solution is to raise the skill level of the individual to what the market desires. Colleges pretend to do this but routinely fail to deliver because they receive so much money handouts that entire industries are vastly overstaffed, so getting a job in these industries is difficult if next to impossible, even with a degree. A person goes to college to study a subject like, say, psychology, and then graduates to find that they must complete numerous unpaid internships and have friends in the industry to get a job. Often, this is worse than having not gone to school at all, since it suppresses income by wasting time otherwise dedicated to career advancement.
A tuition diversion plan, as described by David D. Friedman in the Machinery of Freedom would have the effect of making colleges align curriculum more closely to market demands. To quote;
"It might be possible to reform our present universities in the direction of such free-market universities. One way would be by the introduction of a ‘tuition diversion’ plan. This arrangement would allow students, while purchasing most of their education from the university, to arrange some courses taught by instructors of their own choice. A group of students would inform the university that they wished to take a course from an instructor from outside the university during the next year. The university would multiply the number of students by the average spent from each student’s tuition for the salary of one of his instructors for one quarter. The result would be the amount of their tuition the group wished to divert from paying an instructor of the university’s choice to paying an instructor of their own choice. The university would offer him that sum to teach the course or courses proposed. If he accepted, the students would be obligated to take the course."
Abolishing subsidies for higher education would also produce a closer alignment with market demands since people would not waste their time studying subjects without knowing it will raise their income first. 

Second cause: active liability
There are only a handful of reasons why a person is an active liability:
  • They are a criminal (interferes with employment because they are untrustworthy)
  • They have mental health issues (also interferes with employment because they cannot follow directions, lash out at customers, etc.)
  •  Addicts/alcoholics (interferes with employment because they commit crimes to feed their addictions, are unreliable, create drama, etc.)
  • People with bad credit histories (interferes with finding an apartment)
  • Veterans with war-related injuries or mental health issues (again, interferes with employment)
  • Disabled people, (because they cannot produce to a high enough level)

Third cause: artificial restrictions on housing supply.
In cities like San Francisco, New York, etc., home owners have conspired with the government to artificially restrict the supply of housing, causing rental prices to rise dramatically. In such a situation people who are of an average skill level find themselves unable to afford any place to live, and ironically the very people who donate to charity are often the ones profiting from artificial restriction. Charity then serves as a kind of fee for bad conscience, as well as PR to conceal corrupt politics. The public housing policies of a city are never meant to replace the lost housing stock, as that would actually work and lower housing costs, which would defeat the purpose. Housing is expensive because the rent seekers who run the government want it to be that way, so anything that actually works to lower housing costs will be opposed violently by them.
It is recursive: a woman who runs a charity cooperates in the the production of poverty by selling charity/emotional masturbation to the guilty conscience of the wealthy people who conspired in the generation of that poverty, while providing access to her body to a wealthy male donor in the hopes of snaring a rich husband. She seeks to elevate her status by selling moral indulgences to wealthy men, and herself a marriage, because the divorce will produce a payout; symbolically mixing the politics of the Catholic indulgences with the business of gold digging.
There are many solutions to this: campaign contribution vouchers would take the power to elect politicians out of the hands of rent seekers. A living wage pegged to the cost of housing would create a tremendous incentive for the business community to put pressure on city government to allow more development — to lower rental costs — to lower wage costs. A cash payment to homeowners within a 5 block radius of new development would incentivize them to support increased traffic in their neighborhood from development, and ignore lost equity gains. A "social dividend" that pays a portion of the proceeds from new development to home owners might have the same effect. An authoritarian government would just ignore the concerns of home owners and build housing anyway.

I did not address active liabilities in the indented passage, and so will do so now. A person becomes an active liability because they threaten the company they work with, or because they are less profitable than an employee without their liableness nature. One solution is employment vouchers that pay employers to hire these people. This is dangerous and could create moral hazard though, since you get what you pay for, and if the payments are too high criminals would be more employable than normal people, and people might then commit crimes to become more employable. But if the payment varied by industry, excluded some critical industries necessary for safety, and was just barely enough to cover the costs of increased liability, or excluded criminals altogether, then it could provide a path to employment for these people. Capitalism is eager to lower costs and route around obstacles, and vouchers would spur innovation in the field of trustless institutions. The ultimate way to employ a felon or madman would be to have some robotic system, able to endure endless abuse, that only pays for objects/information reliably produced, and which is impossible for its human employee to cheat, so that no human interaction with these people is necessary. Such a system of totally trustless capitalism would spur innovations in many other fields, since institutions/systems advance by eliminating trust.

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