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Proper role of the government in the provision and funding of education, heath care,...

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monkeyhead | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 30, 2010 at 12:29 AM via web

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Proper role of the government in the provision and funding of education, heath care, housing, job security, care of the elderly and public safety?

Can and should the government continue to fund the social safety net for its citizens?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 30, 2010 at 1:30 AM (Answer #1)

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If there is an answer to this question, it would lie in the personal or political beliefs of the one who answers it.  There are some who believe that the proper role of government in the providing of social or public services is no role.  These individuals believe in a minimalist view of government.  They support the idea that the free market or competition amongst individuals will bring out the best product for public consumption and the interference of the government in such domains ruins the fabric of this marketplace.  There are others who believe that government has a moral and political obligation to provide these services.  They suggest that while the marketplace is very good for those who succeed in it, there are those who might fall victim to it and they should not have public services like education or health care discarded because of it.  For these individuals, government should operate as the safety net to ensure that all of its citizens' needs are met.  As with all polarities, there are positions that attempt to mediate the middle ground of both, taking some or more aspects of one side over the other, yet positing a solution that integrates specific aspects of both ends of the spectrum.

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geosc | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted March 30, 2010 at 5:23 AM (Answer #2)

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Education:  Arguments that were formerly made against state sponsored religion can be made against state sponsored education; just substitute the word education for the word religion in those arguments.  Today, government uses education and schools for all of the purposes that government formerly used religion and churches.  If government has no business in religion, then government has no business in education.

Health Care, Housing, Care of the Elderly:  When private enterprise provides these services, private enterprise must provide them at a level and of a quality that consumers want, or too few people will purchase the services for the private enterprise to stay in business.  When government agencies provide these services, the agencies do not go out of business if their product is used by few people; they just dig deeper into the taxpayers' pockets and stay the course.  Government has no money of its own; in order for government to give these services to one set of people, it must first take money from another set of people.

Public Safety:  That is what government has always been about.  Some argue that private enterprise could provide it more efficiently than government, but there have been governments as long as we know anything about people, so I think if there was a better way, someone would have come up with it by now.

Job Security:  South Korea had it for a while.  It was provided by big corporations because the law mandated that they do so.  If a large corporation hired a worker, it had to keep that worker employed for life.  It could move the worker to another job within the corporation, but it could not fire the worker.  The World Bank, or International Monetay Fund, I forget which, was proping up the Korean currency and gave it to the Korean government as a condition of continuing to receive that prop, that it must repeal that law.  Evidently the law was costing more than it was giving in benefit.  The United States had it for a while.  It was called slavery.  Industrialists did not want slavery but more to the point, neither did the slaves.  So that system must have been costing the slaves more than it was giving in benefit.  If the government should provide job security, the provision should be by another means than I have described.  Maybe it shouldn't.  I think as long as government leaves entrepreneurs free to run their business in response to market incentives, and as long as workers are free to move to employers who are offering jobs, there is no need for the government to provide job security.

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