Minimum Acceptable Public Welfare, and Its Failure Modes
Given a level of good faith participation, how much material wealth expressed in status goods should be the baseline for our society? ...
Where do you sit on the question? Assume the good faith participation in the labor force of one person, with extremely limited productivity. How much in the way of goods do you think it appropriate for society to guarantee this person? Should it cover multiple people (i.e. dependents)? Should it cover living separately? Should it cover risk, and to what degree (i.e. if health care is part of one's floor, are there any behaviors not covered?)? Do we view this floor as a privilege of citizenship, or a human right, or is it a bit of both?
I would mostly just echo u/Niebelfader: There needn't be a bottom. At some point the absolutely un-fit must be able to drop out, as they will sooner or later. Society can pretend that it will save and uplift everyone without exception, but ultimately that will be proven an empty promise. The promise rests on the assumption that not only does everyone deserve saving, but everyone is also capable of being restored to some sufficiently fit state, or else a rare oddity that will never be numerically significant - so that it is more bearable for society to support them than to abandon them in contravention of society's purported ethics.
All of these assumptions seem dubious to me. Nothing in there prevents a parasitic/unproductive underclass from growing. We're all just closing our eyes and holding our ears in the hope that no matter how many dysgenic incentives society provides, there will never be a dangerous amount of people accumulating on the minimum acceptable supported bottom of public welfare.
Similar to how open borders advocates are often stone-cold certain that as soon as immigrants arrive on first-world soil, their birth rates will drop and their values will adjust so quickly that we'll hardly notice their arrival.
So let all these assumptions be true. Let it all be no problem because it just naturally balances itself regardless of the incentives provided. Or let it be no problem because social optimism turns out to be correct and all such problems will be resolved by the nurturing care of public welfare as outlined by those whose virtue is compassion.
But what if not? What if dysgenic incentives produce dysgenic results? Sterilize the biologically unfit and/or the poorly fit but highly fecund? A police state so effective that a large underclass of pure takers will be unable to do any damage? Trust in science to come up with a magic fix, see automation? Hope that economic growth outpaces welfare recipient growth? Just close our eyes and ears and whatever happens happens, but at least we hold on to our optimistic values?
An authoritarian regime might take whatever measures it likes, but I'm still clinging to liberalism. So my policy suggestions are simple: No public welfare. Let the compassionate help where they will on their own means.
To close, Paul Valéry:
“You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time.”
It's not nearly as à propos as Kipling, but it's roughly congruent with my feelings on the matter.
Disclaimer: I am not poor and yes, empathy is not my strong suit.