Spending cuts and laws that work

Here are two short thoughts on two different issues.

Spending cuts

Back in 2001, I said that “cutting or reducing the rate of growth in (government social programs) does not actually take money from the poor.” The second part of that statement is obviously true on its face. Reducing the rate of growth is not a cut – the amount of spending is still increasing, though it is increasing by a smaller amount.

But even if you actually did cut benefits, it would not actively take away anything. This is because social welfare spending is by definition something that is not earned. It is something given to beneficiaries. They are still getting a benefit, they are just getting a smaller one. That clearly does not take away money the poor already have.at.

Laws that work

Is it intellectually inconsistent for gun-rights advocates to argue that gun laws do not keep criminals from getting guns, but support laws that attempt to make voter fraud illegal or criminalize things like murder and rape? The distinction we need to think about here is a morally neutral activity like owning guns or buying pseudoephedrine is very different from an activity we want to eliminate or at least greatly reduce.

Murder, rape and voter fraud are things that are wrong on their face. While no law will ever eliminate crime, we make these things illegal anyway because we recognize they are wrong and do our best to minimize the behavior.

Buying guns or pseudoephedrine are morally neutral activities. Laws restricting the right to own guns or buy pseudoephedrine will not keep criminals from getting guns illegally or manufacturing meth, but will restrict the liberty of law abiding citizens. That is what is unacceptable about unreasonable restrictions on both.

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