Prompt: “Which promotes greater personal responsibility, the free market or the welfare state?”
This is like asking the question: Which promotes greater personal responsibility, putting personal effort into creating a personal income, or relying on a large group to make your financial decisions? Phrased this way the answer is fairly obvious. The free market allows people to communicate and bargain face to face, the state doesn’t step into the exchange unless one party tries to steal from the other. People can build up their resources, hold onto them, trade them for other resources they need, and help expand the market while also expanding their personal inventory.
The welfare state by contrast requires a collection of people acting on majority vote, which can greatly fog up an individuals morality. If a man were asked to steal from his neighbor, nine times out of ten he’d refuse. If a man were asked to steal from his neighbor to help out a different neighbor, he’d still refuse a majority of the time. But if a man were asked to steal from his neighbor to help out the entire neighborhood, well now things seem a bit different. The scale of things has increased, and the empathy the man once felt for his neighbor has been spread out across a much larger number of households. So the man thinks, “Well if taking from one neighbor improves my standing amongst all my other neighbors, then I may as well get the majority of neighbors on my side. That way if they ever choose to steal from someone, they may think of me and help me out with that stolen income.” What the man isn’t considering is that one day he’ll be the one being stolen from, for as the thief makes his rounds he must stop off at every house around the neighborhood to keep things even. The wealth continues to be changed and passed around, depending on who the majority decides deserves it more.
In conclusion, the free market allows an individual to decide for themselves where the best place to invest their wealth is, while the welfare state has a majority deciding for the individual. A majority that doesn’t know the details of the individuals life, and doesn’t much care as long as they can use the wealth for the greater good. But while using this “greater good” mentality, they forget this theft can have major consequences on the personal life of the individual stolen from. The groups empathy towards the individual decreases, for as they think of the neighborly collective they forget about the original neighbor that at first they felt sympathy for.