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Why are or why aren't food stamps considered in investment?

Why is it that proponents and opponents of different parts of the welfare state appeal to different arguments for the respective welfare policies?
I am interested in hearing perspectives on the economic and moral arguments for and against aspects of the welfare state, and the reasons why rhetoric appears to one or the other.
For example: The proponent arguments for food stamps tend to appeal toward moral arguments, while the opponent arguments are economic.

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    Apr 9 2013: here is a moral argument: it is wrong to rob a person in gunpoint, and give the swag to a nearby poor guy. please note that i omitted the actor from this sentence, meaning that it does not matter. if it is the state, it should not change the picture.
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      Apr 9 2013: I agree that whether it's the government taking taxes or a robber stealing cash, in both cases cash is being taken from you by force. But I think when you add context, both scenarios are quite different. In the case of government taking your taxes for welfare, I could argue that the money is intended to be put to good, humanitarian use and could well save someone's life. In the case of stealing cash at gun point, it is most likely being taken for non-humanitarian reasons, and therein lies a critical moral difference in my opinion.
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        Apr 9 2013: in our current legal system, motivation is not a key factor when we judge robbers. i would say that robbing money to save your kid's life in case of otherwise lethal illness is a more noble cause than giving food stamps for someone that already has AC installed. so the very question of what are the intentions is a double standard. if a black guy robs a rich guy, i can assure you, very few people will care about his motivations.
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          Apr 9 2013: I do not believe the intention of food stamps is to give them to someone who already has AC installed. That may well be what happens but I do not believe that is the intention. I think you are comparing the intent of one thing (robbing money to save your kid's life) with the outcome of another thing (some percentage of food stamp recipients using food stamps who do not need them). As a result, I do not think that comparison is valid.

          I believe our legal system does recognize intent (somewhat different from motivation but also quite similar) in a number of cases. Intent is a critical part of a murder charge, and the entrapment defense is also about improper police action that leads to motivating someone to commit a crime they otherwise would not have committed, a duress defense may be used (the case of the Florida white man who claimed he was "standing his ground and defending himself" as he shot a black man was all about his intent), and there are other cases as well.
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        Apr 9 2013: you have a great sense of spotting irrelevant details :) AC was not central to my point. my point was, we can easily find more cherishable goals that those behind foodstamps. yet i can not rob anyone in order to achieve such goals. this is double standard, not matter how hard you push it. simply there is no legal condition that would render an armed robbery morally acceptable, let alone something to condone, unless the state does it.
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          Apr 9 2013: Thanks for hanging in with me. I thought that by saying that "recipients using food stamps who do not need them" I demonstrated that I understood that AC was not an irrelevant detail, and was attempting to verify that I understood you properly, as well as highlight the hyperbole you presented as being not very helpful or clear, at least to me. I apparently failed miserably!

          I thoroughly agree with you that we can find more worthy goals to pursue! Yet I disagree that means we should abandon less worthy goals. Perhaps we agree to disagree.
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        Apr 9 2013: my point is not that we need to abandon some goals. rather, we should give up some ways. one way to give up is taking by force in order to serve something that is perceived as good. it is generally accepted as morally wrong. and that would be my argument against the welfare state.

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