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Ibthaj Khilji

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What is the next big essential service governments in the future will provide for their citizens?

The concept of free education was revolutionary, and eventually became an essential service provided to every citizen at a fairly low to zero cost. After free education in my perspective the next service to become fairly low or even zero cost has been Health care. Canada, Europe have Australia have some form of Universal Healthcare system. Within the next century I hope to see most if not all countries providing some form of universal healthcare system.

Having said that, what is next? Education, Health care...could it be Food? There are already many government programs subsiding certain types of foods in certain countries. Free food in my opinion is the next big revolutionary idea. Providing free food in a sense can lead to a better control on diet based diseases.

Another essential service that comes to my mind is housing. Again there are subsidised housing projects for the less fortunate etc. But, a large scale project providing free housing funded by governmental systems could eliminate things like poverty, homelessness etc.

Things like these will raise taxes beyond an imaginable percent but, I believe it could provide a better society. It will also re distribute the wealth and decrease the ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor.

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  • Mar 15 2011: Lordy, lordy, as if we don't have enough cradle-to-grave socialism already, you want to see even more? Why should government "provide" anything? What is wrong with getting out there and providing it for ourselves? Why do you keep using the word "free" when the things you talk about are not now nor ever will be free, but paid for out of yours and my pockets. Why do you feel that redistributing wealth is a good thing? Are you Robin Hood? You like the idea of universal healthcare; what do you propose to do about the insane increases in cost that we are facing, now running at almost half of provincial budgets and going up by more than 5% a year? With healthcare strangling every government in the free world, where will the money come from for the additional "free" things you'd like to see? "Raise taxes beyond an imaginable percent"? Ha! -- that ranks as the understatement of the year.

    I don't care how much governments spend handling unbelievable crises like the one now in Japan, and I will happily pay my fair share of whatever it costs, but when it comes to "free" food for the masses or other similar harebrained schemes, please keep your hands out of my pockets!
    • Mar 16 2011: Bravo Revett. Some of the spoiled brat mentalities on Ted are breathtaking in their juvenile approach to life. One gets the idea that these pie -in -the -sky types have never paid any taxes or had any of their hard-earned wealth confiscated so some leftist utopian can trow it down a rat's hole. When they eventually grow up and start handing over more of their incomes their attitude will change in a heartbeat.
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        Mar 16 2011: Ah, Libertarians. Have you no sense of greater community? You only have your hard-earned money because you were born into a society that allowed you to make that. You use roads and public transport systems that were funded by taxpayers who understood the importance of such a project.

        I don't pretend to live in a fantasy land where politicians don't steal taxpayers money and squabble and spend inefficiently.
        Nor do I pretend to live in a fantasy land where a political society can fully function when successful citizens claim the money they make is the result of their effort alone, and give nothing back to the society that shaped them as human beings.
        How unequivocally irresponsible and selfish.
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          Mar 16 2011: just go ahead, and accuse your fellow men of being antisocial because they imagine a society differently than you. i guess it is social.

          but in fact, state is not the society, society is not the state. state is an organization.

          thinking that the state is working for you is close to delusional. even if it aimed to, the success is questionable. the only question is whether we want to make it better, or give up and try something else.
        • Mar 17 2011: Who are you to accuse us "libertarians" of being irresponsible and selfish? You have no idea whether that is the case or not, you are just jumping to conclusions based on your blind anti-corporate, anti-wealth ideology. I can't speak for Donald or Krisztian, but I can speak for myself -- I do, indeed, have what you call a sense of community. I don't deny that a lot of my good fortune has been the result of just that: good fortune. But unlike you I don't try to foist my personal philosophy off on others. Reasonable taxation is the price we pay to live in an organized society. But money extracted from citizens should be treated with incredible respect, not squandered on social engineering experiments that lead inevitably to waste, dependency and sloth. In another part of this discussion you refer to WalMart as an oligopoly. Where on earth do you get that from? WalMart competes on a free and open playing field. Nobody holds a gun to your head and commands you to shop there. If you prefer to shop at your local corner store, go for it. But don't vilify WalMart just because Sam Walton was a visionary entrepreneur who found a better way to compete. That's how I made my money, and I don't particularly want it being taxed away so that you and your socialist buddies can figure out another way to provide something "free" to those who are less fortunate and/or dumber and/or lazier than those of us who work hard and manage to do well. And before you jump on me for being a bloated fat cat, with my company I created 250 well-paid, tax-paying jobs. Have you done that?
      • Mar 16 2011: Actually, I don't mind the young people being unrealistically idealistic. Weren't we all at one time? What scares me is older people who still subscribe to unworkable platforms. To mis-quote Winston Churchill: Anybody under 30 who isn't socialist has no heart; anybody over 40 who is a socialist has no brain.
        • Mar 17 2011: I agree. As long as the unrealistic idealism doesn't take the mutated form,incipient or otherwise, of goose -stepping fresh-faced totalitarians ,as it did in Churchhill's day.
          I wonder,was it youthful philosophical indiscretions that led to to the gulags and concentration camps, or was it a bunch of smart old guys that did all the heavy lifting?
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        Mar 16 2011: How about free...money? Money is the right to make a claim upon society's scarce social resources for your own health/wellbeing. The marginal value of a dollar for a poor person is much, much higher than that for an extremely wealthy person. Everyone has a few needs that must be met before they can function effectively. Not allocating resources to those needs is inefficient, which is why income inequality is such a big deal.

        No one is talking about taking your money, Revett, unless you're an uber-millionaire. When people talk about tax rates, we're talking about the top marginal tax rate. We're saying that the marginal utility of a dollar beyond some point is so low, that you don't need that money, and you don't have a right to deprive another person of making a legitimate claim upon the allocation of scarce resources.

        So, is your income over 2 million dollars per year? There is no reason for CEO's and bankers to make as much as they do. The founding fathers in the US mistrusted concentration of power, so they created a separation of powers, yet there is no corresponding check upon the wealth oligarchy in this country. As a result, we haven't prosecuted the financial criminals who've destroyed millions of lives.

        The wealthy benefit enormously from living in our society. They benefit from our laws, our infrastructure, our educated workforce, our technology. Many benefit from years of publicly funded basic research, and then take it private just before it becomes profitable. But then they refuse to acknowledge the contribution - they did it all on their own! Meanwhile they use an Internet the government invented, they've been vaccinated by people they don't know and have never met, etc.

        The creation of digital money at a particular rate for the poor, and the compensatory destruction of unneeded money of the uber-wealthy, solves the problem of the "leftist utopian rat hole," because the claims are redistributed evenly for everyone. Yes, I am Robin Hood.
        • Mar 17 2011: Okay Bill you won the Lenin/Stalin award for living in an alternate universe- al least for the next few days.It may come as a shocking surprise to you but this country was not founded upon the redistribution of income, nor upon any nebulous "claim" to your fellow citizen's hard- earned money. It was founded upon freedom. And I understand that Freedom is a concept that social engineers reserve for themselves exclusively, and their fellow collectivist; passe intellectuals who have cast the post-industrial world in this straight-jacket of a zero- sum game of their own and Karl Marx's making.What the hell does "you don't have a right to deprive another person of making a claim upon the allocation of resources" mean? What? are they still teaching that anachronistic drivel at Berkeley these days?In this country wealth has never originated in government coffers and then consequently doled out according to whatever socialist manifesto at any given time decrees are the winners and losers. Furthermore,market forces determine the value of a dollar, not the flotsam and jetsam of whatever happens to be swimming about in Robin Hood's leotards on a given day. Moreover, it is absolutely beyond disingenuous to somehow, through some bizaare quirk of class-warfare thinking, to assume, for one second, that society at large, in the meager person of Bill or Revett or Don is somehow responsible,collectively , for someone else's success,and therefore is allowed a claim,ipso facto, upon their private property.(Why do I want to shout "get a job")Perhaps you ought to float this useless fantasy of digital money for the TED audience. Frame it as a question that might go something like this:" Should success be punished by confiscating meaningless capital to redistribute as meaningless money presided over by washed-up baby boomer 60s leftists"
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          Mar 17 2011: Mr. Donald, you see there are some games which you can play, and in them you have to earn money and spend it wisely on the things you need, and then some use cheat codes and do whatever they want. Is using cheat codes not cheating, there is no success in it? Then why is it that some people have billions of dollars? And its not a billions of dollars they printed, its the billions of dollars that could have been in your pockets. Are CEO's doing their jobs 300 times better because they are making that much more money. While 37 million people are living in poverty in the United States. We all have to grow up and learn to share. If we didn't redistribute the current wealth, another 61 million people would be living in poverty. Tax cuts are being made to the wealthy, there was a time where people with billions of dollars paid taxes of up to 70% now these taxes are less than 40%...if their taxes dropped by half...why didn't yours? unless you are making more than 3 million dollars a year...you are on the wrong side.
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          Mar 17 2011: this is a very dangerous way of thinking. last time i saw a tv show with gordon ramsey trying to put a restaurant on its feet. the guy who ran the restaurant was trashing the place, and the owner, who financed the whole show, was angry when it came out. the guy responsible for throwing the owner's money into the toilet, basically ripping them off, argued that the owner is so rich, has a boat and multiple cars and travel a lot, so it is OK to get some of that. the guy had another guy's richness as an excuse for stealing from him.

          even if a CEO earns usd 5 million, it is HIS money to do whatever he wants. and if he consumes ALL of it, then he is a jerk, but it is still okay, as it is his, and already worked for it! he created much more wealth to the society by delivering cheaper and better products for the masses. that was the ethical reasoning.

          there is a practical reasoning too. people tend not to consume usd 5 million a year. a part of this money would end up being invested to business. if you take it away, and give to someone, you put money from pocket of a successful man to a less successful, probably wasting it.

          and there is a theoretical problem with your argument too. you compare the marginal utility of a dollar for a rich and for a poor. but it is impossible. you can't compare internal valuations between different people. one person wants a new pair of shoes, the other wants to start a new business he has in mind for a time. which dollar is more important for the these people? how do you know that the poor guy wants the shoes more than the rich guy wants the new business? how do you know which will create more satisfaction?
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        Mar 17 2011: Donald, does Freedom mean that Wall Street bankers should regulate themselves?

        Is all money rightfully earned by contributing value to society?

        Do markets fail, ever?

        What do you make of the fact that millions of tons of food go to waste in the US every year, yet there are millions of people who go hungry?

        Is wanting to allocate social resources (such as food) from where they are not needed to where they are most needed zero-sum thinking or positive-sum thinking?

        Does changing the quantity of money change the value of money in ways that can be influenced by the Federal Reserve, or is the value entirely up to "market forces"?

        Is the creation of digital money at the same rate by everyone less acceptable than the creation of digital money for banking cartels, where it is then lent back to the public at interest?

        Is the Pareto optimal economic outcome always the best economic outcome?

        Should slavery still be allowed? Or do human rights trump property rights occasionally?

        Why did the founding fathers insist upon checks and balances with a separation of powers in this country? What is the check upon the power of wealth? Should bankers be Free to do whatever they like?

        Is it possible that we live, not in a democracy, but in an oligarchy, such that corporations, the financial industry, and bankers receive welfare from the government in the form of taxpayer dollars?

        (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51458.html)

        Suppose that we are in a liquidity trap, such that wealthy people value holding onto cash more than they value investing it. What should be done to stimulate job growth? Should we give more money to people who don't need it?
        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-13/rich-americans-save-money-from-tax-cuts-instead-of-spending-moody-s-says.html

        Do we want people in the US who care more about money than they do about our country?

        Isn't the decentralization of money creation a libertarian idea?
        • Mar 27 2011: I'm not sure I fully understand how the decentralization of money creation would work. I spent a fair enough time in Macroeconomics courses to understand how the Federal reserve generates invisible money. However, wouldn't going to the gold standard (which I have heard is a goal of some libertarian party members) destroy our economy? The price of gold can fluctuate immensely in a short period of time. I can't imagine trying to trade with someone and then all-of-the-sudden your $20,000 mainframe costs $25,000 because the value of gold changed. Of course, this might not be how it works at all; simplistically, that is how I imagine it would work.
    • Mar 16 2011: "With healthcare strangling every government in the free world"

      Well, that simply isn't true. Take Sweden for example, we're doing great even in these hard times and we do have universal healthcare.

      Besides, he isn't talking about any country in particular so I don't know why you're so up in arms about it. There are definitely a lot of people that do think that redistribution is a good thing, and I certainly believe that the world would be a better place of there are more choices of countries to live in that only capitalist states with a small government.
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      Mar 17 2011: The biggest reason that healthcare cost is going up is because it's run as a for profit business. Humana, Aetna, United Healthcare, etc. all have to answer to shareholders quarterly. If the profit motive were eliminated, healthcare wouldn't cost nearly as much. We have "socialized" law enforcement and fire departments and no one seems to be pushing to privatize them because they WORK. We might as well have socialized healthcare because the way it is now, those who have insurance pay for those who don't. Our emergency rooms are overrun with poor parents bringing their kids in with runny noses that should be treated at lower cost clinics. If someone who is uninsured comes in with a broken leg, it has to be fixed. If they don't pay their bill, it just rolls into the cost of running the hospital and rates go up for those who have insurance. Have you heard of any hospitals going out of business? Me neither!
      • Mar 17 2011: I am sorry, Paula, but that is flat out wrong. Here in Canada our publicly operated healthcare system consumes more money every year, growing far faster than the rate of inflation or the increase in population. The same is true in France, Germany, Britain, and, yes Rasmus, Sweden. The reason US healthcare is so expensive is partly because of your litigous society that means every doctor has to do unnecessary tests for everything just to cover his butt in case he gets sued, and it means people like surgeons have to buy insurance for, quite literally, thousands of dollar a month in premiums. Medicare and Medicaid are obscenely expensive, and there is little evidence that they run particularly efficiently. Like Humana, Aetna, etc., Safeway also answers to its shareholders, but it still manages to deliver a huge selection of fresh food to you at highly competitive prices. WalMart has to answer to its shareholders but it still offers you an enormous selection of goods at rock bottom prices. The same logic applies to Dell, Apple, your local flower shop, and your dog's vet, but for some reason you say that running something for profit is the reason healthcare costs are going up. Where is the logic in that?
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          Mar 17 2011: It's interesting you should list oligopoly style firms as vindication of the free market- the very business that make competition impossible. Wal-mart is the worst, as apart from killing off competition as everyone knows; it also drains money from the economy. The razor company Gillette for example, took pride in manufacturing 'at home' (in the USA) and employing only Americans. Wal-mart refused to market Gillette unless they lowered their prices, which they were forced to achieve by outsourcing.

          Apple, after failing to successfully sue a smaller mp3 manufacturer they accused of market mimicking, took matters into their own hands by threatening to remove their products from any stores that continued to sell products of their rival.

          As problematic as our healthcare is, any attempt to replace it with a private, more market-based system would spark outrage as it has Britons terrified with their Conservative coalition. With public tax-payed healthcare comes a national agreement that access to healthcare should not depend on your ability to pay.
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      Mar 17 2011: A primary problem with this topic is that it is very easy to measure the cost of taxes and very hard to measure the benefit of tax money well-spent. Most people who are strongly polarized against any government spending, the kind that call it all socialism, fail to recognize how much their hard-earned success has depended on thoughtful government spending and the foresight of those who preceded them. For instance, one may have made a lot of money in the computer industry and be under the delusion that they did it all by themselves. But how far would they be without the publicly funded research of DARPA and the NSF? If they were transported back to the 70s with their libertarian ideals, would they have supported that spending?

      Naturally emphasis should be on wise spending, not just spending, but pushing people to choose one radically polarized position or the other, ignores the fact that government is a tool, which can and has been used to effectively. The market is also a tool, which can be used effectively, but is not magic and doesn't work for everything. Both sides make valid points: government programs are not free, and very few if anyone can attribute their success solely to their own hard work. What this argument desperately needs is for serious people with moderate views to stand up and bring a little sanity to the table.

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