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One conservative argument against the welfare state can be described thusly:

The government has practically kidnapped some the populace and connected them via some sort of economic umbilical cord to those who are less well-off, putting them in a situation that constricts their movement.  A conservative might argue that no one can be morally obligated to support another person in a way that violates their right to property.  Even if refusal to pay taxes for the funding of public services leads to death of another, it is not their responsibility.

The conservative argument relies upon the analogy that those who benefit from the welfare state are parasites who cannot survive on their own.  Some of those who pursue this line of reasoning believe that they are being forced to subsidize the undeserving, but others may stipulate that even if those who would benefit from more expansive government are not morally inferior, that two wrongs don't make a right.  Some of those people might actually be sincere.  

These conservatives may also make a distinction between harming and allowing harm to be done.  You may recall the "let them die" moment from the CNN-Tea Party Republican presidential debate.  

I disagree with this line of reasoning.  Where I think it breaks down is that its methodological individualism gives the individual undue primacy.  A Lockean notion of the social contract has individuals living in the state of nature coming together to form a society.  This is a convenient fiction along the lines of corporate personhood, but people don't actually work that way.

Instead of individuals uniting to form a society, I invert that order.  There is a natural solidarity, a fundamental interconnection and interdependence between all human beings.  So, individuals do not form a society;  rather, society decides to what degree it recognizes individualism.  It goes too far when individualism is enforced to such a degree that human solidarity disappears and the common good is no longer clear.  There is a balance, not a bright line demarcating the individual from society.  People are both individuals and parts of an indivisible body of humanity in the same way that photons sometimes behave like waves and sometimes like particles.

In the past, I have sometimes found rights-based liberalism to be problematic because it focuses too much on the individual.  This is a small first step towards a solution of those difficulties.

[In case anyone wants to bring up the similarities, I am aware of Judith Jarvis Thomson's famous violinist thought experiment.  This diary was not showing up in the recent diary list, so it was deleted and republished.]

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