Minimum Social Safety Net
As discussed in our last post, America’s forefathers supported and wrote into our country’s fundamental documents a basic social safety net to allow Americans to protect themselves and their neighbors from preventable disasters. In fact, the word, “welfare” is included in our country’s constitution, not just once but twice and in very obvious context. Basing a minimum safety net on the clause “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” brings out the obvious points in my previous post.
Let’s go beyond the basics and define what would make for a good list of basic services we want to provide with our tax dollars. These services should be available to the stinkingly rich as well as the desperately poor.
Certainly we need services that ensure the proper functioning of our government. However, spending millions of tax dollars to have the best possible oak and gold crusted court houses is a fool’s investment. Also, paying elected officials more than double the average American wage makes our representatives think they’re not one of “us”. But this is all outside the arena of social programs.
In order for a country to function well and be competitive in the world, we need a freely available and dependable infrastructure. The only way to provide this is through services provided by our taxes. Putting for-profit corporations in charge of ensuring our infrastructure will guarantee that it will not be dependable and probably not be available to everyone. So, what do we mean by infrastructure?
Obviously, we need roads and communications. The idea of toll roads is so obviously wrong it amazes me. If we “need” roads, we all need them. For someone to make a profit because we “need” something is not only immoral but a foolish decision on our part. If we shut down all the roads in America, we would collapse as a nation. Anything that is this important is too important to leave for the corrupt corporations. The same goes for our communications, and this includes Internet. Without a viable phone or Internet system, America would immediately devolve into a third world country, or at the very least, fail to be competitive in the word markets.
Yes, our roads and communications should be controlled by our taxes. What else? As far as infrastructure goes, police and fire protection as well as a military are all important services that should be provided by our taxes and not controlled by a profit-based organization. Other obvious infrastructure services include sanitation, both garbage and sewer services. These are too important to trust to a profit-first organization.
Other than infrastructure, there are numerous services that we must provide to all of us. We already discussed health care. Even though we don’t have it, yet, it is an obvious need. Health care includes medicines. Personally, I’m not too fond of the idea of putting the pharmaceutical companies out of business, but making them competitive is required. The Conservatives passed laws just a few years ago forbidding our Medicare programs from negotiating with the drug companies. Why haven’t we put all those Republican representatives in prison by now?
We obviously need clean water and air. So these should also be something we provide ourselves through our tax dollars. How very foolish for us to trust greedy corporations to provide water to the people.
In order to encourage entrepreneurs to start new endeavors, we need a safety net that catches them if they fail. This is called unemployment and bankruptcy. Though these aren’t typical services, they are important uses of our tax dollars.
What’s the first argument you would expect to hear against adding additional services? The Conservatives are constantly screaming, oh my god, more taxes. Well, yes, more taxes. Let me explain.
We are already paying for these services, whether we know it or not. Only now, we’re paying corporations to provide them, corporations whose primary purpose is to make money for themselves and their stock holders. If we spend the same amount to get these services through a social service, there is no profit motive so there is considerably lower costs. Yes, we pay more in taxes but end up with more money left over from our pay checks at the end of the day. I think we’d all be glad to pay higher taxes if we got more left over from each of our pay checks.
Once we start looking at things, there are still many more services that we really should be providing to ourselves that will become more obvious once we stop reacting to the fear mongering of higher taxes.