There are a lot of people who advocate for the implementation and growth of social welfare policies, such as public education, universal healthcare, social security/retirement policies, and many others that have been instituted in many Western countries. The debate over whether or not W and X policies should be supported over Y and Z policies have been raging on ever since governments have started exponentially expanding in these programs. The question that I would put forward, and one I feel would be more productive to ask, is, “Why doesn’t the average citizen have the purchasing power to buy goods and services from the private sector?”
It’s not a question that’s really put into light, although the position for laissez-faire markets are constantly argued for, and it’s a shame that it doesn’t really come up much in debates. The purchasing power of the people is the most integral thing to keep an economy alive and growing, countries fall into stagnation and recession without the average consumer’s ability to purchase needed goods and services as they will. Of course, the popular response to this statement is, “Well, what about those who can’t afford to buy _____? Shouldn’t government have public services that aid those who don’t have the means to buy _____?” Which brings another very valid and crucial question to the table: “Why can’t people acquire an adequate means of living by way of employment and building up savings?”
The answer to both questions can be summed up quite simply: both are due to government regulations placed on them to protect the personal interests of the politician, the interests of any corporate and foreign government ties they have, and the further advocate for the expansion of government programs that rely on those who, because of the government, cannot live without government assistance. Everyone knows how older folks tend to say, “Back in my day, _____ only costed us $______, and a trip to ______ only costed us $_____.” For services like dental health or automotive repair, it seems reasonable that the cost of these services would go up due to the advances in technology that go with those respective fields. But why would the price of wiper fluid or getting your teeth cleaned go up? The acquisition of new technology is a one-time deal and maintenance of this technology wouldn’t be enough to justify a massive jump in prices to keep said technology in good repair.
The answer lies within your currency, or rather the value placed in your currency by those who use it and trade with it. There are a lot of things that can affect how much “power” your money holds, but the biggest influences in the value of money comes from government debt and from the availability of the currency. When government has a set amount of revenue and exceed that amount in expenses , they have to either take on debt to continue those services or they have to print more money to make up for the inability to pay for those expenses. This shows companies and governments that trade with this government that the economic structuring of this government is unsustainable and that they cannot generate enough revenue to off-set the debt and the over-saturation of currency in the market.
It’s like a toy company not being able to sell enough toys, which are waning in demand, to justify an expansion of their company. The solution to that dilemma isn’t to accrue debt and produce more toys, but to either try and meet the market demand for toys or to slow production, cut the necessary amount of expenditures, and allow for enough time to have passed to turn a profit from the toys that have been made. The only difference is that government’s source of revenue is the taxpayer and that government continues to stifle the amount of money that taxpayers can contribute to them. The average citizen has become discouraged, by way of government intervention in business and free trade, from starting and expanding businesses and in working towards earning a better paycheck. This places government “income” in an even tighter choke-hold as they continue to advocate for more money to be put into the military-industrial complex and into social welfare policies.
Now, some people may bring up the argument that these kinds of policies are sustainable in countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland. That their “success” in having these state programs and maintaining a relatively sustainable economy is an indicator that every other government should be able to do the same. However, countries like Iceland tend to be tricky, in terms of how their government and national economy is structured, and what others see as a “success” is the result of significantly scaling back on the very same social welfare policies that they’re praised for. For one, exempting the case of refugees (a mandate brought upon them by the EU and one that Iceland doesn’t follow), these countries are very hard to get into and tend to posture themselves in a more isolationist stance. They value the local generation of wealth and in having foreign businesses buy their goods and services. They then use that wealth to off-set the costs of social welfare programs, which is regarded to as a safety net to a nation with overall good health, of relatively wealthy families, and have a good education.
We can see that, in the case of the United Kingdom, these policies don’t work out very well when you restrict capitalism and the ability of the people to accrue capital. It may seem like an “altruistic” gesture to harbor refugees, have a universal healthcare system, and provide free education to your citizens, but the result of it all is catastrophic. More than ever, people are seeing the faults and are pushing for the abolition of the NHS, they’re revolting against refugees and immigrants who disrespect their culture and demand services on their dime, and they advocate for an end to government over-reach in the markets and in foreign affairs. People work themselves to the bone, they aren’t seeing much of a payout for all of the hard work that they do, and they are absolutely fed up with it.
The takeaway of this discussion is that despite these programs being sold to the people as “free” and “altruistic”, the truth of it is that they end up being neither and government officials know that. It’s never been a secret that whenever politicians argue in favor of certain ideals, it’s because the advocacy of those ideals will get them more constituents and continue to fatten their wallets. By acknowledging that, it isn’t much of a stretch to assume that government policies are typically advocated for by these same politicians and lobbyists that have the most to gain from these policies, regardless of whether they help or hurt the people they target. This isn’t to say that you couldn’t have “free” healthcare or “free” food and clothing for those that can’t afford it, but it must be acknowledged that these services aren’t free and will always come at some cost.
Even if an individual decided to open up a medical practice or a bakery that provided their services for free to the public, the costs of maintaining those services and the goods needed to continue providing them will have to come out of somewhere else. If you give people the opportunity to work towards what they want out of life, as opposed to just giving it to them, it benefits everyone involved and improves the quality of life for everyone. Supporting the government’s imposition of these programs will only damn people to a lifestyle of stagnation, where they will be provided for at a very basic level but can never really progress onward from that.