Thursday, 26 May 2016

How to Resolve a Difference in Opinion

I recently watched a program called "How to get a council house". Its not something I would usually watch but decided to, as it was on and my partner was watching it. An interesting case on the program was where a Romanian family had decided to move to the UK with little money and no job to try get a Council House. Over the course of the program it shows the family moved between various charitable temporary accommodation and in the end the family got a four bed council house. What interested me was the difference of opinion I had with my partner on the issue. She for example stated that the council had to give the people the house or pay for their flights home, I on the other hand held the opinion that there was a moral hazard problem here in that it was quite clear the parents had brought their five kids with them in order to emotionally blackmail council workers. I'm sure this thing goes on all the time and I'm sure these cases get told back to fellow EU citizens and they too try to do the same thing - to get a free place to live in the UK you have to risk bringing your children with you, even if it means homelessness. I argued that with such a policy it will only encourage more people into reckless behaviour and cause more cost to the taxpayer. My partners response was "You can't just put kids on the streets".

While I agree with her response you must examine beyond the surface and also how best to resolve this difference in opinion between two people. In the above case if we incentivise families from poorer countries to risk homelessness in order to get a council house then there is a cost with that. Resources and money that maybe could have been used for healthcare now for example are diverted into paying for private rented accommodation or council housing due to such individuals actions. This diversion of resources may in fact cause hardship for other people in society, in some cases cause death to someone who falls ill due to a lack of timely medical care. If we now re-frame the question"We can house the Family who put themselves into such a situation, but it will cost an innocent persons life" would we be fine with such a proposition? A counter argument would be, its "only £8K a year it won't make a big difference" but if you scale that up for dozens, even hundreds of families, then that starts to matter (even £8K can mean the difference to timely treatment or none on an individual basis) and prevents life saving care.

The Priest who was on the program, who had housed the family through charitable means, was asked by the producers did the people deserve to be housed. He said yes and no. Yes because no one wants to see kids on the streets but also no because he could see the parents had purposely duped the welfare system by using their Children as an emotional weapon. Rather than a welfare system I argued to my partner that private charity should only house people in times of hardship (many of the affordable issues with housing are due to Government policy of subsidising houses which leads to higher prices and there is also a restriction in supply due to restrictive planning in the hands of central authorities - so in reality only people in true dire circumstance would need help with housing if the Government got out of the way). If there was no system based on coercion by forcing people to pay taxation towards housing people in need, then others could donate voluntarily to housing charities they felt aligned with their beliefs. For example I may donate to a housing charity that only houses people that have actually fallen on bad times, by assessing their actions. My partner for example could donate to a housing charity that would house anyone with kids, regardless of the parents actions. Our difference in opinion is resolved by giving every individual a choice. Our current system allows no distinction, instead it is either dictated on a bureaucrats whim or by a 51% rule, neglecting the opinions of the other 49% but forcing them to pay for something they don't believe in.

So back to the phrase "You can't put kids on the streets". I agree but the situation detailed here is a completely self inflicted one. One in which the parents embarked on reckless behavior in order to obtain a Council House in the UK fully paid for. I like immigration. I think most EU migrants come to this country to work hard but cases like this give them a bad name and help fuel further conflict and tensions between UK citizens and EU migrants. This example of conflict has been created by the welfare state, in which all citizens are forced to pay into a single monolithic payment system and when cases like this occur people have no option to resolve their disagreement. Instead the anger manifests itself in the form of bigotry, racism and casting people into isolated groups. How do we resolve such conflicts with one another and how do we ensure people can express their own individual opinion and decide what they want to do? We can not do that with a central organisation that coerces people and takes wealth from them to implement polices dictated by a small minority of politicians or at best 51% of its citizens by ignoring the views of people who disagree. We resolve conflict with the principle of liberty and capitalism; people are free to associate with any group they wish but can not be forced to do something against their free will. No system has done more to combat social tensions, indeed the very principle of capitalism is voluntary co-operation, unlike Statism whose principles is to use force against peoples free will. Capitalism, not the welfare state, is the way we resolve differences in opinion.

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