Government Dependence

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The Almost-Myth of Hurting by Helping

(Maybe this belongs in the "just world fallacy" section, but for now...)

If I hadn't seen it over and over again, I'd have assumed it was a parody of Republican beliefs -- but apparently Republicans actually claim that forcing people off welfare makes them more independent, because welfare creates dependency on government handouts, while not being on welfare gives them an incentive to get a job which of course means that they can get one if they really want to.

(The one grain of truth to this is that many welfare programs make unemployment and/or extreme poverty a precondition of receiving benefits, where benefits are cut off immediately once the thresholds are exceeded. This does indeed provide a disincentive to be employed or to do at all well financially. Such provisions, however, are invariably demanded by Republicans; most reasonable people would prefer rules that allow a more graceful transition back into mainstream society.)

One can point out the obvious -- just because you have a really strong incentive to do something doesn't mean you can do it -- and that people on welfare typically either do want a job (regardless of being on welfare) or have circumstances which prevent them from having one -- but of course one then runs into the ever-present Republican obliviousness to facts. They believe that welfare creates dependence, and that if you take people off welfare they'll learn how to fly by flapping their arms just go out and get a job, and what they believe must be right, because it's what they believe and because, of course, the world is a fair place where merit is always rewarded and poverty proves that you aren't flapping your arms trying hard enough


But seriously, folks... the idea that giving someone something creates dependency, and therefore we should never give help to people who need it is an interesting idea which I think is worthy of further exploration. I'd like to propose the following ventures:

  • Free-Fall-Market Skydiving School: Students will be thrown out of airplanes without unfairly providing a convenient hand-out backpack containing a parachute. This will give them a great deal of incentive to learn how to fly or at least land softly, as well as being less coercive than other skydiving clubs which surrender to the politically correct notion of enforcing safety "for your own good". On the way down, students will learn to collaborate under pressure in order to arrive at unique and innovative solutions to the problems posed by falling out of an airplane at extreme height without a parachute. Anyone who is killed or otherwise fatally injured is a loser who deserves to fail, and will be graded accordingly. (Note: course is conducted by the Self-Determination Flight School, which also offers planeless flying lessons.)
  • Independent Teaching Hospital: At most hospitals, you have patients lying around in beds resting, "convalescing", attended hand and foot by "doctors" and "nurses" who thereby create dependence on a liberal medical elite. At Independent Hospital, patients must learn to heal themselves, through intensive study of medical texts which they buy at market rates in exchange for their labor in various other Independent Industries enterprises. The regular course is capped by an intensive eight-hour "emergency room" boot camp where each student is given a fatal injury and must then adapt to their circumstances in time to prevent failing the course.[1]
  • Ignite Your Ambition Aeronautics Academy: students will be placed on the surface of the moon without any solution-space constraints (such as space-suits, a working return capsule, etc.) that might stifle their creativity and result in failure to innovate. This will allow them the full, unconstrained freedom to explore their own unique inventive ability in designing and building a vehicle for return to the Earth before they lose consciousness approximately nine seconds later -- unlike those big-government tyrants at NASA who enslave their astronauts by making them dependent on the billion-dollar free handout known as the US space program.
  • Invisible Hand Electric Company: Order service from our company and our technicians will be at your back door in minutes, ready to free you from dependence on the electric grid by disconnecting you from the shackles of your old electric company and giving you all the incentive you've always needed to figure out how to improve your life and generate your own damn electricity, you lazy good-for-nothing layabout. (Warning: bills over 60 days past due will result in immediate reconnection.)
  • Tough Love Employment Agency: We believe that the greatest disservice other agencies do for their clients is to take care of all the legwork of finding job openings for them -- making them lazy and more dependent on job-finding services in order to find jobs. Here at Tough Love, we don't fall into that trap! We let our clients know that all they really need to do is try, and they will find a job -- and if they don't, it's clearly their fault for not trying hard enough.


  1. Credit must be given to M. Python's pioneering work in this field, of which there is a brief documentary available on YouTube: