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Does the government have a duty to house, feed and take care of us?

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    As the government restricts our access to basic human necessities such as shelter and medicine is it duty bound to compensate us with welfare?

    Take housing for example, a state backed cartel of real estate owners have monopolised the UK's land stock driving prices up thus obliterating the chances of entire generation to get onto the property ladder. As the government has taken sides and predetermined who gets to keep all the land, are they morally obliged to compensate those that have lost out due to high housing and rental prices?

    Personally I'm against the welfare culture, but if the state insists on preventing us from providing for ourselves I'd argue that they have a responsibility to deal with the associated social deprivation.
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    Well the government has no legal authority to claim the country as theirs unless they are backed by the people. If one of the conditions of the people backing the British Government's claim to hold the territory is that they provide housing and food for those that need it, then yes they have a duty to provide it.
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    The government should ensure a minimum standard of living characterised by accomodation and an income that is fit for purpose plus access to healthcare that is free for all. That's obviously my ideal and pretty much resembles reality.
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    I think we have an obligation to satisfy the needs of our fellow man, not their wants. Whether this is via the state, charity, or whatever I don't mind, as long as it is done to a high standard. By needs I mean health, food, shelter et. But wants I mean nike trainers, blackberries, ipods etc.
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    (Original post by Craig_D)
    Well the government has no legal authority to claim the country as theirs unless they are backed by the people. If one of the conditions of the people backing the British Government's claim to hold the territory is that they provide housing and food for those that need it, then yes they have a duty to provide it.
    You're talking about a social contract whereas I'm talking compensation for wrongdoing.

    If you accidentally force costs upon me - by writing off my car for example - we wouldn't expect compensation to be contingent upon a pre-agreed contract. I've suffered a loss and regardless of the paperwork you owe me the cost of the repairs.

    If a state imposes costs upon it's inhabitents; by severly restricting the use of medicinal drugs for example, does it not too have a moral obligation to compensate the injured?
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    (Original post by Elipsis)
    I think we have an obligation to satisfy the needs of our fellow man, not their wants. Whether this is via the state, charity, or whatever I don't mind, as long as it is done to a high standard. By needs I mean health, food, shelter et. But wants I mean nike trainers, blackberries, ipods etc.
    What I'm driving at really is compensation. I don't believe we have obligations to one another (socialism) unless we're forcing costs upon others in some way. As the state through it's actions burdens the economy and the British people with untold dead weight costs it's morally obliged to right this wrong by providing basic welfare. If you prevent somebody from housing/medicating themselves you owe them housing/medicine, that sort of thing.
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    (Original post by chefdave)
    You're talking about a social contract whereas I'm talking compensation for wrongdoing.

    If you accidentally force costs upon me - by writing off my car for example - we wouldn't expect compensation to be contingent upon a pre-agreed contract. I've suffered a loss and regardless of the paperwork you owe me the cost of the repairs.

    If a state imposes costs upon it's inhabitents; by severly restricting the use of medicinal drugs for example, does it not too have a moral obligation to compensate the injured?
    I see what you mean, but I still believe the state should do whatever the majority of its population want (or what it thinks they want). Every pound that the government gives away is a pound out of the pocket its taxpayers, it has no money of its own. If the majority want those people to be compensated then it should happen, because its their money that's being given away.

    That's the silly thing about people taking the government or the NHS to court and getting compensation, as public bodies they have nothing to lose. Every time the NHS are sued they give away the public's money. Your cash gets handed away to pay someone for them having botched operation or whatever. Is that fair on you, when it wasn't your mistake? The same goes with your example.
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    (Original post by chefdave)
    What I'm driving at really is compensation. I don't believe we have obligations to one another (socialism) unless we're forcing costs upon others in some way. As the state through it's actions burdens the economy and the British people with untold dead weight costs it's morally obliged to right this wrong by providing basic welfare. If you prevent somebody from housing/medicating themselves you owe them housing/medicine, that sort of thing.
    I am by no means a socialist. I do not believe the means of production should be owned by the state. I just think that there is a minimum set of living conditions that humans should be in. You are only ever really a couple of steps away from ending up relying on the compassion of other humans no matter how rich you are, so it pays to be at least slightly altruistic.

    I don't particularly see the state an an entirely isolated entity capable of paying out compensation in various forms, without it coming out of our pockets any way. I also don't see them doing things worthy of compensation in isolation i.e. it is the people behind the state who do these things who should be held accountable, and perhaps they should take the initiative to try and fix some of the problems they or their predecessors created, yes. My main worry re: the state, is that they have managed to sell our future for our parents and grandparents, and we haven't benefited by a tenth of the amount they have. They shouldn't be allowed to get into more than a decade's worth of debt, because then you are just mortgaging the next generations chance at life, which is BS. When you look at things it is the older people who own everything either directly or via their over inflated pensions, and we will never get a look in.
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    (Original post by Craig_D)
    I see what you mean, but I still believe the state should do whatever the majority of its population want (or what it thinks they want). Every pound that the government gives away is a pound out of the pocket its taxpayers, it has no money of its own. If the majority want those people to be compensated then it should happen, because its their money that's being given away.

    That's the silly thing about people taking the government or the NHS to court and getting compensation, as public bodies they have nothing to lose. Every time the NHS are sued they give away the public's money. Your cash gets handed away to pay someone for them having botched operation or whatever. Is that fair on you, when it wasn't your mistake? The same goes with your example.
    You must have made my point just a few milliseconds earlier!

    With regard to suing the NHS for negligence, I don't think doctors and nurses should be allowed to hide behind the state. They should be sued for negligence directly, which their insurance would pay for. I have family members who have had their lives ruined by doctors negligence. When it is a case of 'o sorry we almost killed you, but you're fine now', i'm inclined to let them off. But when you are stuck in a bed for 30-40 years totally housebound because some idiot decided to cut through your nerves, and didn't write down which nerves he cut, then he should pay. Otherwise how will they learn? And how will we weed out the doctors who repeatedly ruin people's lives through their own incompetence?
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    (Original post by Elipsis)
    I think we have an obligation to satisfy the needs of our fellow man, not their wants. Whether this is via the state, charity, or whatever I don't mind, as long as it is done to a high standard. By needs I mean health, food, shelter et. But wants I mean nike trainers, blackberries, ipods etc.
    Is education a need? are computers and the internet needs? how do you even know what is a need and what is a want? you arbitrarily make things up.
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    (Original post by Elipsis)
    You must have made my point just a few milliseconds earlier!

    With regard to suing the NHS for negligence, I don't think doctors and nurses should be allowed to hide behind the state. They should be sued for negligence directly, which their insurance would pay for. I have family members who have had their lives ruined by doctors negligence. When it is a case of 'o sorry we almost killed you, but you're fine now', i'm inclined to let them off. But when you are stuck in a bed for 30-40 years totally housebound because some idiot decided to cut through your nerves, and didn't write down which nerves he cut, then he should pay. Otherwise how will they learn? And how will we weed out the doctors who repeatedly ruin people's lives through their own incompetence?
    Yeah, I completely agree with you. It is they who reap the awards that come from being good at their job (not least the massive salaries), and good luck them because it's a noble and vital profession, but it is only fair therefore that it is not we who are punished for their mistakes.

    I know this is likely going to be a controversial idea but I think it should be impossible to take compensation from any state body, be that the army, state schools, the police, local councils, and so on. The people actually responsible should be made to pay for whatever negligence they committed. I just don't see how it is ever justified that the taxpayer pays the bill*.

    *Unless perhaps the majority of taxpayers agree that compensation should be paid, like with the example in the OP.
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    (Original post by TheIronist)
    Is education a need? are computers and the internet needs? how do you even know what is a need and what is a want? you arbitrarily make things up.
    Well, these are all questions that the government has asked itself. I think there is always going to be an arbitrary nature to these things, unless you can come up with a better method? You can focus on the grey areas to try and make my point redundant, but it wasn't meant to cater for every nuance of the human experience.
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    (Original post by Craig_D)
    Yeah, I completely agree with you. It is they who reap the awards that come from being good at their job (not least the massive salaries), and good luck them because it's a noble and vital profession, but it is only fair therefore that it is not we who are punished for their mistakes.

    I know this is likely going to be a controversial idea but I think it should be impossible to take compensation from any state body, be that the army, state schools, the police, local councils, and so on. The people actually responsible should be made to pay for whatever negligence they committed. I just don't see how it is ever justified that the taxpayer pays the bill*.

    *Unless perhaps the majority of taxpayers agree that compensation should be paid, like with the example in the OP.
    It seems to me that the tax payer is always going to end up paying either way. Compensation cases almost always result from some sort of harm to a person, which in our country means they will be using the tax payer funded NHS more. The real problem I have with this compensation culture is that we collectively provide the NHS in good faith, and that should be done so in a way where the user accepts that. Of course, so do the doctors (I assume). But then they don't get sued for things their peers agree were the correct thing to do. I guess it all boils down to individual accountability... If I were harmed via negligence I think I would settle for that person losing their job so that they can't do it to anyone else.
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    (Original post by Elipsis)
    Well, these are all questions that the government has asked itself. I think there is always going to be an arbitrary nature to these things, unless you can come up with a better method? You can focus on the grey areas to try and make my point redundant, but it wasn't meant to cater for every nuance of the human experience.
    I don't have to come up with a better method of determining something I don't believe in (namely that there is a substantial distinction between needs/wants). I think we should discard these categories and stop talking about them altogether.
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    (Original post by TheIronist)
    I don't have to come up with a better method of determining something I don't believe in (namely that there is a substantial distinction between needs/wants). I think we should discard these categories and stop talking about them altogether.

    Well certain things are vital to ones existence and life, whilst others simply make it more comfortable/enjoyable. I think you have the right to look to your left and right and expect the things that are vital to your existence, but I do not think you should take from others to make your life more comfortable, that is up to you. The one area where this theory really comes into any kind of problem is education. And about that I would say; A basic education is vital to your existence in 21st century Britain, and also increases the chances of you not needing to rely on others in the future.

    I am not trying to provoke you into determining a better method of something you don't believe in. I am asking you to come up with a better way of determining where to draw the line in terms of what we owe one another in this society, unless of course you believe we don't owe each other anything?
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    If such a nation existed that had the most free market economy, an incorruptible government, and no welfare/benefit system at all, I would immigrate there in a heart-beat and have a go.

    I would be willing to take a chance at starving or freezing to death should I fail, just so I could be free of the obligation to support those who do fail. Ironically, I think I would be very charitable in such a society if I was in a position to contribute. When I am offering charity, the recipients have to be appreciative. When an entitlement is taken from me, the recipients get to act like ungrateful chavs. That one distinction makes all the difference in my desire to be altruistic.

    Of course, no such society exists, so we are stuck with what we have.
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    (Original post by Elipsis)
    Well certain things are vital to ones existence and life, whilst others simply make it more comfortable/enjoyable. I think you have the right to look to your left and right and expect the things that are vital to your existence, but I do not think you should take from others to make your life more comfortable, that is up to you. The one area where this theory really comes into any kind of problem is education. And about that I would say; A basic education is vital to your existence in 21st century Britain, and also increases the chances of you not needing to rely on others in the future.
    I am not trying to provoke you into determining a better method of something you don't believe in. I am asking you to come up with a better way of determining where to draw the line in terms of what we owe one another in this society, unless of course you believe we don't owe each other anything?
    I am not going to bother with the first paragraph (I'm sorry). I already said what I wanted to say. It's completely made up to say that we owe to each other a life but not a very good one.

    The second paragraph, I'll try to answer (I apologise for misreading what you said before).

    I think the role of the government (and that’s not answering what we owe to each other in our private capacity btw - that's a different question which is not the topic of this thread) is to make sure that social justice is maintained.

    In particular, this means that all of it’s citizens should have access to the same opportunities, the same resources and the same liberties unless there is a very good reason why they ought not to. Broadly speaking that reason has to do with the choices we freely undertake. The government should not intervene to equalise incomes between, e.g., me and you if it turns out that the reason why our incomes are unequal is because of our personal choices (and not, say, because of pure luck - e.g. me being born in a wealthy family which passed it’s entire wealth and the income that flows from that kind of wealth onto me and you being born in a poor family which had no wealth to pass on to you).

    As you can see, this is very different from the principle that the government should somehow provide for our needs but not our wants.
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    (Original post by TheIronist)
    In particular, this means that all of it’s citizens should have access to the same opportunities, the same resources and the same liberties unless there is a very good reason why they ought not to. Broadly speaking that reason has to do with the choices we freely undertake. The government should not intervene to equalise incomes between, e.g., me and you if it turns out that the reason why our incomes are unequal is because of our personal choices (and not, say, because of pure luck - e.g. me being born in a wealthy family which passed it’s entire wealth and the income that flows from that kind of wealth onto me and you being born in a poor family which had no wealth to pass on to you).

    As you can see, this is very different from the principle that the government should somehow provide for our needs but not our wants.
    Can you think of any feasible way for the government to accomplish the social justice you speak of without completely trampling on everyone's civil liberties? I have truly never heard anyone with this belief provide an acceptable solution beyond "communism lite".


    There is no way to quantify and measure who deserves their station in life and to what extent. If there was then the methods required to redistribute their "undeserved" resources and limit their "undue" influence would be totalitarian. A reasonable person would rather live with social injustice than to merely exist under oppression.

    Once you and I get to have the same opportunities, resources, and liberties it is near pointless for you to make better choices than I. As you said at this point the government should not intervene, but they have to. They have to ensure that you do not use your fairly gained resources to provide anyone else with unearned opportunities. When that happens all your better choices add up to allow you to do little more than buy a nice watch (which may have to be seized when you die if it's too valuable).

    Having a legitimate complaint is pointless if you can not provide a viable solution.
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    (Original post by ckingalt)
    Can you think of any feasible way for the government to accomplish the social justice you speak of without completely trampling on everyone's civil liberties? I have truly never heard anyone with this belief provide an acceptable solution beyond "communism lite".
    What kind of civil liberties am I trampling by making sure that people do not get unfair advantages in life? (advantages for which they can not be held responsible). I do not know what you mean by communism lite and I do not know whether communism lite would be a bad thing (where bad thing = (according to you) "trampling everyone's civil liberties").


    There is no way to quantify and measure who deserves their station in life and to what extent. If there was then the methods required to redistribute their "undeserved" resources and limit their "undue" influence would be totalitarian. A reasonable person would rather live with social injustice than to merely exist under oppression.
    Sure there is. I was born in a relatively well off family. Another kid was born in a relatively poor family. Our social institutions have made it so. It's not a natural fact that we can do nothing about.

    Now I made certain choices in my life which were partly determined by the choices my parents made for me when I was growing up. Same was true of that other kid. If these choices were (say) very well made for me but not for him due to those inequalities in the access to the resources mentioned before, and if these choices determine to a great extent who in the future is going to get a university education, and if a university education partly determines our station in life, then in what sense can he be held personally responsible for his lack of university education and subsequently the station in life which a university education (or lack thereof) makes possible?

    If he is not personally responsible for his lack of university education (and station in life) and as I said, our social institutions ultimately determine this, then our social instiutions are unjust and ought to be revised.

    Again, I am entirely unsure how making sure that our institutions do not allow this to happen means totalitarianism (you have to first give me a definition of totalitarianism ofc).

    Once you and I get to have the same opportunities, resources, and liberties it is near pointless for you to make better choices than I. As you said at this point the government should not intervene, but they have to. They have to ensure that you do not use your fairly gained resources to provide anyone else with unearned opportunities. When that happens all your better choices add up to allow you to do little more than buy a nice watch (which may have to be seized when you die if it's too valuable).
    I do not understand this paragraph at all. Why is it near pointless for me to make better choices? that happens all the time within members (siblings) of the same family which were brought up in an enviroment where (presumably) they had access to the same opportunities, resources and liberties.

    Having a legitimate complaint is pointless if you can not provide a viable solution.
    I think my solution is a viable one. And it's not pointless to point out that other people's principles are incoherent (even if you think that mine are impossible to achieve without trumping people's civil liberties or implementing communism lite/totalitarianism). The point is to show that he is wrong and the fact that you think I am wrong does not make him right.
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    (Original post by Craig_D)
    That's the silly thing about people taking the government or the NHS to court and getting compensation, as public bodies they have nothing to lose. Every time the NHS are sued they give away the public's money. Your cash gets handed away to pay someone for them having botched operation or whatever. Is that fair on you, when it wasn't your mistake? The same goes with your example.
    The person who did the wrong should use their own money to pay and not use the government or NHS funds; this I believe would make the person in charge more responsible because they now know they can't hide under the skirts of the government.

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