Wed, 30 Dec 2009

Strong Feelings

I've been rude to a friend of mine (Simon Phipps) on Twitter. On the one hand, why should I be rude to a friend of mine? On the other hand, if I don't call him out for quoting stupid things (as if he agrees with them), then how much of a friend do I consider him? If I'm not willing to be harsh with him, then I can't value his friendship much. If I'm not able to be harsh with him, then he doesn't value my friendship much.

In particular, I feel very strongly that the wealthy should be responsible for the poor. "Responsible" means several things. First, it means only lending aid appropriately. "Give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime." It also means charity should only be for the deserving. "Give an ailing man a crutch and you have gotten him back on his feet. Give a healthy man a crutch and you have taken away his ability to walk."

Responsible also means not using the power of wealth against him. This is a tough one. It's very easy to look at someone who is not as wealthy as you, and decide how they need to be helped. Everyone who has more than someone else can fall into this trap. Certainly my country does it all the time, sending food aid to countries that can't use that food, or to countries where their competitive advantage is that food.

And responsible means consistently advocating for free markets (not using the power of wealth) and private property. When my friends harm that cause, I get very upset. I can understand my enemies, and the people that hate me advocating for coercion. But my friends? That cuts me to the quick.

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