Friday, December 22, 2017

Basic Responsibilities of a Civilized Society to its People

I feel compelled to express some thoughts on what kind of social services a wealthy and civilized country ought to provide for its citizens, because I think the scrooges of the world have successfully brainwashed many of us into thinking social services are somehow a disservice, and I want to counteract that nonsense.

For one, I think a civilized country should ensure that anyone working a full-time job (40 hours a week) is compensated with a living wage. That should be enough to cover the following basic human needs:

*A secure dwelling providing shelter from the elements
*Utilities including electricity, HVAC, and potable water
*An adequate supply of healthy food
*Full, no-worries medical/dental coverage
*Transportation appropriate for the area. In a rural area that would include a car
*A phone and/or internet-connected device
*A little extra (maybe 10% more) that can be used for savings or discretionary spending

If the job itself doesn’t cover all that, then tax-funded government programs ought to fill the gaps, but my preference would be to rest most of the responsibility on the employers to simply pay their workers enough. Another way a civilized government should help is to keep costs down by regulating businesses to make sure they don’t greedily overcharge for housing, utilities, medical care, etc.

For two, I think a civilized country should provide all that same basic stuff for kids, the elderly, and sick or disabled people who can’t work. There’s archaeological evidence that even ancient cave peoples took care of their injured and elderly who could no longer hunt or gather, so there’s no excuse for a rich modern society not to do the same.

For three, I think a civilized country has a particularly important responsibility to kids, which includes ensuring that they have a safe environment to live in, and access to quality food, medical care, and education from preschool to at least 12th grade, if not further into college or vocational training. It’s nice when parents take the primary role in providing that stuff, and of course we should encourage them to do so. But if the parents can’t or don’t provide that stuff, for whatever reason, then a civilized country’s government needs to step in and help. Because kids can’t choose their parents. Also the investment in kids pays off by making sure that the next generation is healthy, productive, and not criminal.

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