Seeking Welfare, Friendship, Humor, and More
Q&A Radio: 6 January 2013
I answered questions on manipulating finances to qualify for welfare, initiating contact in friendship, poking fun at values, gay 'conversion' therapy, and more on 6 January 2013. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.
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Segments: 6 January 2013
Question: 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?
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.
Question: 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?)
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.
Question: 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?
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.
Question: 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?
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.
Rapid Fire Questions (1:17:25)
- What do you think of the fake "Brady Campaign" ads floating around Facebook lately?
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About Philosophy in Action
I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.
From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.
My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.
I can be reached via e-mail to email@example.com.