You Cannot be Compassionate on Behalf of Others – The Chief’s Thoughts


According to Kayla Chadwick, editor at HuffPost, “If [higher taxes] seems unfair or unreasonable to you, we are never going to see eye to eye,” and I am inclined to agree with her.

Chadwick starts her argument by saying that she is still able to argue her points, however, she is unable to “explain to someone why they should care about other people.” This, according to her, is quite exhausting. She then goes on to try and justify government intrusion into the lives of ordinary people, saying everyone should be happy paying more (and more) taxes so as to ensure the poor are cared for.

Her entire article is, of course, one big strawman.

Those of us who are inclined toward the free market don’t think it’s a bad thing when the poor to be cared for. Instead, we believe, firstly, that it is bad for some people to benefit at the direct expense of others without their consent, and secondly, that ‘caring’ for the poor through government programs is ineffective, wasteful, and leads to perfectly-avoidable corruption. As Frederic Bastiat would lament: just because we oppose government ‘looking after’ the vulnerable people in society, does not mean we oppose those people being looked after in and of itself!

In South Africa, the government is getting ready to apply a national minimum wage across all sectors and for everyone. This is justified by invoking said mandate of government having to protect the poor and vulnerable from that nasty thing we call life. Those of us who oppose the minimum wage are called ‘heartless’ at best, and ‘racist’ at worst, despite our motivation for opposing the minimum wage being almost exclusively based in concern for the poor.

Chadwick, however, has a different idea about the minimum wage and welfare:

“There are all kinds of practical, self-serving reasons to raise the minimum wage (fairly compensated workers typically do better work), fund public schools (everyone’s safer when the general public can read and use critical thinking), and make sure every American can access health care (outbreaks of preventable diseases being generally undesirable).

But if making sure your fellow citizens can afford to eat, get an education, and go to the doctor isn’t enough of a reason to fund those things, I have nothing left to say to you.”

What a bonanza of intellectual dishonesty.

“Fairly compensated?” This reeks of the labor theory of value, which I have dealt with elsewhere.

“Fund public schools?” She acts like education would not exist in the absence of public schools and that everyone will be stupid. This she assumes without further ado. Without the unfair competition provided by tax-leeching public schools and the bureaucratic loopholes through which they need to jump, private education would be considerably more affordable.

“Access healthcare?” Ditto the above. And taxing more money out of people’s pockets certainly doesn’t help them paying for healthcare.

Clearly, there is little left to say, as she rightly points out.

I agree with Chadwick: this to-and-fro argument is quite exhausting. I don’t know how to explain economics in any simpler way to these people. Moreover, I fundamentally don’t understand why I need to be explaining why people should be able to keep more (or all) of their own money in the first place. The fact that libertarians have to ask for this is astounding, given how absolutely perverted the very notion is that our property can be taken on a whim as long as the reason for the taking is ‘to care for the poor’. Baffling.

According to the left, you can ‘care’ about others when you have less disposable income courtesy of government intervention. It should be clear by now, however, that compassion is a voluntary phenomenon that can be encouraged, not enforced. The moment the guns come out, everything that follows is injustice unless someone is defending themselves.

The free market shouldn’t need any more defending. It has been shown that where the market is relatively freer than another place, prosperity follows. Those pesky poor immigrants which nationalists hate so much are the best indicator of the success of free markets: they always go where there is more economic freedom and consequently wealth. And don’t get me started on Scandinavia, which is bound to be thrown at me; for a welfare state will certainly appear to be successful if it is riding on the back of one of the freest economies in the world where there used to be no welfare state (when the wealth was actually created!).

But we persist. Unlike Chadwick and her condescending peers, we engage.

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Martin van Staden is the Editor in Chief of Being Libertarian, Rational Standard, and Champion Books. He has a law degree from the University of Pretoria. His articles represent his own views and beliefs, and not that of any of the organizations he is involved with.


  1. Not to be uncharitable, but this piece is crying out for a proof reader:

    “Those of us who are inclined towards the free market don’t think it’s a bad thing when the poor to be cared for.”

    “Those pesky poor immigrants which nationalists hate so much”

    Mr. van Staden I’m sure you can do better than this. Some libertarians would look at your grammatically challenged work, and unkindly label you a public school graduate.

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