A reader writes:
You stated, "I don't believe in mandatory provision of food and shelter to those who have decided to be free-loaders, as opposed to the unlucky or incapable." That's all well and good, but in practice, when the presence of poverty and homelessness and its consequences negatively impacts tourism, social atmosphere, and the desire to do business and take up residence, there's an economic and quality-of-life incentive - self-interest, effectively - to provide food/shelter to those types of people, not just a moral one.
On food and shelter provision, this is a tough call.
I agree that "freeloaders" who make little or no effort to help themselves should be limited, if not cut off. But what if these same folks have, unfortunately, children? Then what? I'm not leaving those kids on their own, and I doubt that each case would warrant taking the child away. So, I'd probably still give a bunch of adults who may not "deserve" the provisions.
If you don't believe in mandatory food and shelter for freeloaders, what do you think Christ meant when he said that if a man asks for your coat, give him your cloak also? I'm not playing "gotcha"; I honestly have never heard any person of faith (of which I'm one) even discuss this passage, let alone attempt to reconcile it with free market capitalism.
What Christ is saying is "give him your cloak also." Not have a government that confiscates your coat based on its beliefs and not yours. Another:
I think the most prominent distinction between you and Hertzberg is that you want to differentiate between free loaders and those who are unlucky or incapable. But how would you propose that we make this distinction? Surely a limited and humble government could not have any role in determining who is lazy and who is unlucky or incapable.
A simple example: long-term vs short term welfare. I favored welfare reform on these principles. On healthcare, it's tough, because it's very difficult to make distinctions for care based on illnesses that may or may not be related to lifestyle, and because the sick definitionally cannot cure themselves. Ditto unemployment benefits which expire after a while. We do not make them permanent, although it's pragmatic to extend them if the economic circumstances truly make employment impossible.
See: who needs a raucous comments section, when you can actually have a civil to and fro?