This is the next installment in a series where I design, with your help, a small, hypothetical new nation called Ascendia, based on small government, personal liberty, and free markets. Please read parts one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven if you have not yet before reading this article so that you’re up to speed. Today, I will lay out how Ascendia would handle its poor, namely regarding welfare and health care.
The content of this article will be no surprise to anyone who has read past installments of this series, as well as my How To Handle The Poor Series, which is here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. I suggest you read those if you have not yet, since those will give you all the statistical background of what I’m about to propose.
As I talked about in those articles, step one in regards to handling the poor is to not do the things that create poor people in the first place. Thus, the first aspect of how to handle welfare or health care in Ascendia is that there would be very few poor people to begin with. Tax rates would be microscopic, meaning that poor people wouldn’t need to make a lot of money in order to pay their living expenses. There would be no money printing in Ascendia that would drive up living costs. There would be no wage or price controls that make it harder to purchase certain items or get a job. There would be near-zero business regulations so there would be an abundance of businesses that would need help in the form of either jobs or contract work. And so on.
Very similar to prosperous societies like Singapore and Hong Kong, there would be very, very few poor people that would require help from anyone as compared to what most normal, big-government countries are accustomed to.
Granted, there are poor people in every society and Ascendia would be no different. Just remember that the amount of poor people, as a percentage of the population, would be extremely small.
To take care of the welfare and health care of these poor, Ascendia would first look to cultural answers rather than governmental answers.
The culture of Ascendia, as promoted by the government in speeches and overall vibe, would be that the few poor people in Ascendia would be addressed by the following entities, in this order:
First Source of Help – Families: Similar to old-school Asian cultures, the culture would focus on families taking care of their own, rather than tossing your grandparents or loser siblings or children to government services.
For example, it would be assumed that you and your siblings would eventually have to financially take care of your elderly parents. Expecting your fellow citizens to pay for your parents would be an insulting idea. (Because it is.) Instead, you would know, from the age of about 13 or so, that someday you and your siblings (if any) would likely need to take care of your elderly parents in some way. This includes financially, with health care, and with housing. Yes, if you had less siblings than others, that wouldn’t be fair to you, but as I’ve said before, fairness in real life does not exist. As Scott Adams said (before he lost his soul), “fairness” is a concept invented so stupid people could participate in arguments.
Since you’d always be aware of this, you would always be encouraging your parents to work hard, save lots of money, and take decent care of their health. Sure, your parents could be assholes and not listen to you, but in a free country, you have the right to be an asshole. The point is that this cultural expectation from both parents and children is, while very flawed, still far better than the “fuck off, not my problem, let government Social Security take care of you” system that has caused bankrupt social security programs all over the Western world.
Second Source of Help – Charities and Churches: If the family angle didn’t work for some people, the next level of protection would be charities and churches, both of which would be heavily encouraged by both the government and the culture.
In big-government countries/societies, the importance of charities and churches are downplayed because everyone expects “government to take care of it.” Prior to the 1940s, almost one-third of working men at all income levels regularly donated either money to a charity or church or donated their time to a volunteer organization like Rotary. Today, it’s a tiny fraction of this, since technically most people give to charity, but it usually involves taking some clothing down to Goodwill once or twice a year.
This is because A) they can’t afford to regularly donate to charity because taxes and inflation are killing their ability to earn, and B) they assume government will take care of it.
This would not be the case in Ascendia. Charity and churches, which would help that percentage of the poor whose families couldn’t or wouldn’t help, would be encouraged at all levels.
Source of Last Resort – Local governments, if they so choose. As explained in prior articles in this series, in Ascendia, the small, local, decentralized governments of the Free Cities would be able to do whatever they wanted. If one city wanted to be socialist and provide free welfare and free health care to everyone who lived in that city, paying for it by a strong income tax, that would be fine. If another city wanted to be libertarian with little or no taxes and zero welfare or government health care, also fine. That’s up to each city. It’s just the federal government that would not be allowed to give any person or company any welfare or health care money for any reason.
In a country of about six million people, it stands to reason that a few of these Free Cities would be a little left-leaning in their political tendencies (similar to how Gary Johnson was a left-leaning libertarian) and would possibly enact some kind of system to help those very few poor who, for some reason, could not be helped by families, charities, or churches. As always, these individual cities/towns could do this in any way they liked. If they screwed it up, people would either vote their local leaders out of office, or even better, leave those cities for more prosperous ones.
Hopefully, these cities would help the poor in a way where the Won’t Poor and Can’t Poor would be properly identified and the Won’t Poor not given any help whatsoever. But again, that would be up to each individual city.
I have my own opinions on how this would be done, but this series of articles is on how I would design an entire libertarianish nation, not how I would manage an individual city within such a nation. Perhaps someday I’ll write a city version of these articles.
That’s how welfare and health care would be handled in Ascendia. The federal government would do nothing and provide nothing. Poor people would be rare. People would take care of themselves. People would take care of their families. Charities and churches would pick up the slack, and perhaps a few towns/cities would too. Not a perfect system by any means (no system is) but far less bad than any big-government Western country handles this problem today.