Many are vehemently opposed to government social programs, with supposedly good reasons. They complain about inefficiency, which I can get behind as well, but most critically they claim that it’s a moral offense to ask one person to pay for services that go to someone else.
It’s sad to see good people take such a stance, but apart from the selfishness of the position one has to wonder about its viability. Let’s look at some examples.
These types don’t want government healthcare because they don’t want to pay for other people’s services. Well, they already do. They pay via the emergency rooms. And they pay many times more because the people in question didn’t get preventative care.
They don’t want sex education or abortion rights because they think people should be free to do what they want to without government interference. But communities who have these programs have healthier families, fewer unwanted children, less crime, and overall less pain and suffering in the society. If that’s not the standard, then what is?
They don’t want to have to pay for other people’s education, but they fail to realize that “those people” being uneducated leads to higher costs everywhere. Higher taxes, higher prison populations, more crime, fewer successful businesses, etc. What you pay for in public education you get back manyfold in the form of reduced costs of supporting the suffering.
Living wages are opposed by most in this camp, and they support corporations’ ability to pay workers as little as possible. What they don’t get is that the government picks up the slack. Those costs don’t just go away—they come to us as the taxpayers. So we the people pay more so that the corporations they love so much can have the highest profits possible.
It’s stunning when you think about it. The corporations have a mobilized army to fight for them—an army of “conservatives” arguing against their own best interests and the best interests of America in general.
Like those who are known for disliking government I also abhor the colossal waste and inefficiency of many government programs. But rather than simply conclude that government is always the problem, I ask a simple question:
Does stopping government social programs actually fix the problem? Would we really be better off if we just cut all the programs?
I don’t think so. And if you think about it for thirty seconds it’s pretty damn obvious.
Does anyone really think that if we stop giving aid to the starving and uneducated that they’ll just go away? Has that worked for India? Has it worked for Africa? No. The poor continue to suffer and reproduce whether they’re being helped or not. So whether you care because you actually care, or you care because it’s in your best interest to—either way—you should care.
Most major “government programs” in question are programs that would help people improve themselves and reduce the burden on others. In short, if government were involved in a more holistic, proactive, and efficient way then it wouldn’t have to be involved in a reactive and inefficient way.
Does this mean government is the answer to everything? No, it most definitely isn’t. And it shouldn’t be, either. But it is the answer to getting people to realize that it’s not the answer.
If you want a smart, self-suffienct population that doesn’t impose a burden on others you need to provide that population with healthcare, education, and the ability to make a living. Without those building blocks the prospect of a self-sufficient, “libertarian” society will remain a fiction.
Many conservatives pride themselves on being financially savvy. If that’s true then they need to seriously evaluate the effectiveness of these options. Even assuming a completely selfish perspective, which is a more effective way of raising America’s prosperity—cordoning off increasingly massive segments of the population and refusing to help them, or intelligently investing in their success so that they reduce your burden?.
That’s the real irony of the whole thing: if you want to create a population that doesn’t require government assistance to survive, you need to properly “govern” the prerequisite services that enable such a society.