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“Do some people have a right to be supported by others?”

Don Watkins demonstrates the importance of writing the right question in Voices for Reason – How To End the Welfare State With One Simple Question:

In a recent debate on the welfare state, I was asked whether I thought it was important to help others. That, I said, was not the right question. In a free society, people help others all the time — parents help children, neighbors help neighbors, private charities help orphans.

The question you need to ask when you’re thinking about the welfare state is not, “Should I help others?” It’s, “Do some people have a right to be supported by others? Are they entitled to turn other people into their servants? Is their need, regardless of its source, a claim on other people’s time, effort, and property?”

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