Jan 072013

I broadcast a new episode of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday, 6 January 2013, answering questions on manipulating finances to qualify for welfare, initiating contact in friendship, poking fun at values, gay “conversion” therapy, and more. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host.

If you missed the live broadcast, you can listen to or download the audio podcast (or segments thereof) any time. You’ll find the podcast on the episode’s archive page, as well as below.

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Podcast: 6 January 2013: Seeking Welfare, Friendship, Humor, and More

My News of the Week: I finished up Series 6 of Doctor Who, and Paul got me the best present ever!

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You can download or listen to individual questions from this episode below.

Question 1: Manipulating Finances to Qualify for Welfare (3:18)

In this segment, I answered a question on manipulating finances to qualify for welfare.

Is it wrong to manipulate your finances to qualify for welfare? An acquaintance of mine – who is moderately wealthy – feels justified in manipulating her finances to get government aid whenever possible on the grounds that it is “getting back” some of what she has paid. For example, she had her elderly mother buy a new car for her own use, in order to have her mother deplete her savings faster and qualify for Medicaid. However, while she had paid much in tax, her mother collects more in social security every month than she ever paid in taxes. Is it rational to view this as “getting back” money that was taken inappropriately, or is it actually immoral and self-destructive?

My Answer, In Brief: It’s wrong and destructive to game the welfare system. To do that is different in its essence from seeking to maximize tax breaks or attending a state university.

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Tags: Ethics, Government, Honesty, Integrity, Law, Welfare

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To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 2: Initiating Contact in Friendship (22:59)

In this segment, I answered a question on initiating contact in friendship.

Should friends initiate contact with each other roughly equally? Some of my friends never initiate contact with me. They are friendly, loyal, and otherwise great friends. But for any interaction or get-togethers, I must initiate conversation, suggest activities, and so on. Sometimes, I feel as if I value the friendship much, much more than the other person does. Is that an accurate assessment or is something else going on? Should I just seek other friends? Should I talk to these friends about this issue? (If so, what should I say?)

My Answer, In Brief: Friends need not initiate contact equally, as that can be a matter of personality differences or other inessentials. If you think that might mean that the friendship itself is unequal, then initiate friendly conversation to find out – and hopefully solve the problem.

Listen or Download:

Tags: Communication, Friendship, Personality

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 3: Poking Fun at Values (35:42)

In this segment, I answered a question on poking fun at values.

When does humor work against my values? Sometimes, I wonder whether my jokes undermine what I value. Is it wrong to poke fun at my friends or myself? Is it wrong to joke about principles that I hold dear? How do I draw the line?

My Answer, In Brief: Humor, even when involving serious values, is all well and good provided that the intent and context are such that it’s purely benevolent, without any hidden malice or sneering.

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Tags: Benevolence, Communication, Ethics, Friendship, Humor, Introspection, Relationships, Values

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 4: Gay “Conversion” Therapy (53:27)

In this segment, I answered a question on gay “conversion” therapy.

Was California right or wrong to ban “gay cure” therapy for minors? Recently, California banned “reparative” or “conversion” therapy – meaning, therapy that aims to make gay teenagers straight. Such therapy is widely regarded as dangerous pseudo-science by mental health professionals. The ban only applies to patients under 18. So adults can still choose such therapy for themselves, but parents cannot foist it on their minor children. Is such therapy a form of child abuse? Or should parents have the power to compel such therapy on their children, even if they’re morally wrong to do so?

My Answer, In Brief: Gay “conversion” therapy, even when voluntary, can be deeply destructive to a teenager. I’m not sure that it should be banned, however.

Listen or Download:

Tags: Ethics, GLBT, Law, Parenting, Psychology, Rights

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To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Rapid Fire Questions (1:17:25)

In this segment, I answered questions impromptu. The questions were:

  • What do you think of the fake “Brady Campaign” ads floating around Facebook lately?
Listen or Download:

To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.

Conclusion (1:21:13)

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  • Anthony

    Are you saying you are or are not against government scholarships? If not, what about legally manipulating your finances in order to qualify for government scholarships.

    I don’t see the distinction that you’ve drawn between medicaid and scholarships.

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