Libertarian Views on Welfare

The Libertarian view on welfare and other similar government policies is that they should be ended. If we were to move to a Libertarian method of government it could have drastic effects on the current population and create more problems that it would solve. Alleviating the accountability of the government under the guise of freedom is not a responsible method of a government that is for the people.

Essentially Libertarians believe personal liberty should be the overriding concern of society and government should stay out of people's lives as much as possible. They contend government should significantly lower its size, reduce taxes, and leave citizen's alone. Some positions the party supports include the legalization of drugs and abolishment of income taxes, as well as ending all welfare programs (Ruwart).

The purpose of the welfare system is to ensure that no one falls through the cracks into total destitution. Libertarians believe that not-for-profit organizations are more effective than government in providing a safety net for those in need. They maintain that a revitalization of private charities will fill the void left by the dismantling of the welfare system now in place. They also hold that non-profits do many of the things we have come to think of as government service activities, but do it far more effectively (James).

A Just Society

In an "Egalitarian Theory of Justice" American philosopher John Rawls discusses the elements necessary for a society to be just for all. He begins with the supposition that in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are not based on social circumstances, financial position or authority.

Rawls defines society as an association of individuals who recognize certain rules of conduct and behave accordingly in order to advance the good of the participants. This arrangement harbors an inherent conflict. On one hand social cooperation makes it possible for individuals to live a better life than if they were to live solely on their own efforts, on the other hand because individuals are not indifferent as to how these greater benefits are distributed and they will naturally pursue larger share. Rawls claims that this phenomenon requires that a set of social principles be established to ensure justice so that the advantaged do not unfairly gain by their position. He goes on to say that these principles must be chosen "behind a veil of ignorance" so that "no one is advantaged or disadvantaged in the choice of principles by the outcome of natural chance or the contingency of social circumstances" (Rawls). In other words for justice to be just it must be blind.

Rawls asserts there are two principals of justice, first all must have equal rights to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others, and second, social and economic inequities are to be arranged so that they are both reasonably expected to be to everyone's advantage and that social positions and office be open to all. He defines basic liberties as political liberty, freedom of speech and assembly, liberty of conscience, and freedom of thought, freedom to hold property and freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure as defined by law (Rawls). The second principle may be achieved through equity of opportunity. These principals make up what he calls distributive justice.

Rawls second principle speaks to society's obligation to be just in the distribution of opportunity, and to protect the less fortunate from the greed of privileged. Rawls contends social and…