Ron Paul’s idea would’ve been to remove the safety net that so many people have come to rely on, and replace it with private charities that people could donate to on their own free will. Based on 2010 figures, the “safety net” cost the federal government 900 billion. Matching that would require roughly $3000 per American citizen per year.
Basically, each and every single one of us would have to shell out $3000 in order to keep up all the public services we partake in (and don’t partake in) every day. That’s my life savings.
In a society like ours, there’s an ever-increasing line of luxury that defines a comfortable lifestyle. Is it our responsibility as those meeting that standard to help those less fortunate to achieve that standard? Is it even an achievement that a society should be working towards?
A few decades ago, television was a luxury. If you had a TV, you were instantly the cool kid that everyone wanted to hang out with. Nowadays, it’s not a question of whether you have a TV or not, it’s a question of whether you have an LCD, LED, or Plasma screen and whether you have a PVR or not. Luxury is like a drug – the more we partake in adorning ourselves with the latest fad, the more it takes to get us high the next time the new thing comes around. Are these luxuries necessary for in order to be functional members of society, and thus do they define the true line of living that one must meet to be a functional part of society?
There are systematic flaws in our welfare system. Registered homeless people, for example, receive monthly pension from the government. What put those people on the streets in the first place? Giving those people money won’t help them if they continue spending it on what put them there in the first place. What the government instead should focus on is providing the bare necessities to live instead of assuming that everyone has the ability to make those choices on their own.
Now let’s look at somewhere where the all this could add up to. Denmark follows the Scandinavian welfare model, a basic principle that guarantees education and health care for all, and “flexicurity,” a model which “successfully manages the challenges of globalisation and secures steady economic growth and employment.” As stated in their own website, the Danes are aware, and perhaps even proud of their world-leading tax levels.
In the end, the question is whether the social safety net is a viable and feasible project to keep running or should it be from the goodness of our hearts to provide for those less fortunate than us, if at all?