Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,


From a WSJ article on Joe Miller, a Republican
candidate for US Senate:
”In the past week, Mr. Miller* acknowledged that his family had received low-income medical benefits and that his wife briefly drew unemployment checks. Previously, he had criticized his rival for supporting the medical-benefits program he used and had called federal unemployment benefits "not constitutionally authorized."

 I don’t consider this hypocritical, actually.  Saying that you don’t think a tax loophole or a program is a good idea in general and that you would be happy for it not to exist does not, in my opinion, oblige you not to use it while it does exist.  This is like saying that a socialist who has a job in private industry is hypocritical; no, he’s practical.  We live in this world, not in the one we want to live in.  If the rules of the game say “you will be jailed if you don’t do X”, doing X is legitimate even if you really don’t want X to be mandatory.  As near as I can tell, the idea behind the Tea Party is smaller government: lower taxes, fewer services.  If you have to pay the taxes anyway, is it still wrong to use the services? If your point is “I want the state to run this program and not the feds”, are you being hypocritical to use the federal program when there is no state alternative?

I admit that refusing to use the service seems the more principled stand, and in some cases “following the rules” can be pretty sleazy**.  But … these are the laws that we have.  Following them when they hurt you and taking advantage of them when they help you -- even as you are seeking to change them -- doesn’t seem that unreasonable to me.  What do you think?

 * I don’t know much about Mr. Miller or his campaign and I am not trying to argue that he is an awesome candidate; I have no idea.  I just found this particular complaint about him to be an interesting topic.

** A kind of sleazy example: walking away from an underwater mortgage that you would have no trouble whatsoever paying, but since your home is in a no-recourse state it makes more financial sense to stick your bank with the loss while you buy an equally good house for less money.  There are much worse examples in totalitarian countries; I am not trying to extend my point to cover committing human-rights violations.
Tags: politics, principle
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