This is somewhat a revisit and modified version (probably a better one at that) of an idea I discussed earlier. The revisit is in part because of the recent health care legislation. Some argue that health care is a “right” not afforded to some, something that everyone should be given regardless of income on ethical grounds. I’m not sure why health care is considered more essential than food, water, shelter, etc, but it is certainly where a lot of money is spent and made.
The government will provide relatively bare essentials deemed required for survival. These will include food, water, shelter, clothing, protection, education, occupation, health care, and probably some others that I can’t think of. They will be provided in whole by the government, directly, no intermediaries such as with food stamps, medicare, etc and with no fees. Provisions will be bare essential: For instance, food provisions will be limited to calculated nutritional need, and there will in theory be no overuse possible. The government services will be minimums, and will not place any limits on private provision of them that will favor the government provision. Quality will range from mediocre to craptacular, not only to follow real world precedence but also for providing incentive for folks to work hard and obtain better services from the private sector. Government provision of these will be provided to everyone who tests positive as a citizen: The rich cannot complain of supporting freeloaders with nothing in return and the poor will not be hurt by fees and will not “slip through the cracks”. Neither will be hurt by excessive additional paperwork, because they will not have to do any: That will be the onus of the government employees. Since occupation is one of the essentials provided by the government, there will be plenty of “free” labor available to handle the production of all that is necessary to provide the other essentials. In keeping with the mediocre to craptacular rule, the jobs will not pay well per-say, especially in consideration that the essentials of living will already be provided, but differences in wages will be used to ensure all necessary jobs are filled. All provisions will be designed to be as efficient as possible by government. Since all provisions will require some control of the lives of the receiving individuals, much care in design and population oversight will be necessary to ensure this control will not extend into the lives of those not receiving services related to that control and that receivers will be able to leave or refuse service in part or in whole at any time, regardless of ability to obtain said services elsewhere.
Some more details about specifics:
- Food: Food will be grown on government farms and processed in government plants. Current scientific consensus will be used to shape dietary plans, which every person partaking in the free food will have personally designed for them based on an examination. Food will be available in unprepared form (groceries), in semi-prepared form (microwave dinners, etc), and in fully prepared form (restaurants/cafeterias). A large database of food provision will have to be maintained and shared among all government food providers to ensure people don’t exceed their allotment. They can receive messages from the government if they do not take all of their allotment, but will never be forced to take it all. There will be a number of options available for fulfilling all nutritional needs, so that people with differing tastes as well as beliefs can be satisfied.
- Health Care: This will be provided by government hospitals. They will use government supplies and medicines, which will be equivalent to “generics”. Care will be pretty limited as mending goes, mainly for life threatening and severely debilitating issues, though it will be quite satisfactory in these. Since everyone will have a job available, they should in theory have some money available for issues not handled by the government. Health assessments will be provided to everyone that will include recommendations for healthy lifestyles. Provisions will be available for healthy lifestyle needs such as exercise (government gyms) and nutrition (government food plan), and preventative maintenance will be considered the key of the plan. Again, no one will ever be required to receive treatment, exercise, or eat well, though they will be gently encouraged to when on the government plan.
- Shelter: Very small and basic living accommodations will be provided. They will all be in apartment or communal type quarters. Families will be given preference for the apartment type living. A given person or family will not be considered to own a bed or dwelling in any way, and can and will be moved if necessary to a different dwelling, though they can’t be moved from a locality (school district) if they don’t want to. They can come in at any time (given a cot in a big sleeping quarters until a longer term location is found) and can leave at any time as well, though they must provide “landlords” with information about planned durations of staying.
- Clothing: Government clothes will be fairly generic and often second hand. The mantra will be “mend it not end it” and government clothiers will fix tears, etc, in wounded garments. Garments determined to be beyond repair will be recycled if possible into new garments or other products.
- Protection: This is pretty much the standard thing that current governments provide, using legislators, judges, police, and military. These services will be streamlined and given more definite scope. Outside of that scope, private protection will be available (assuming providers make such services available). Since this service will be more required for everyone, everyone will have greater say in how it is carried out. Everyone must also be provided with full disclosure of how they will be affected, including: education about laws, court proceedings, and how police and military will handle them in conflicts; continued postings about updates and changes; consultations with law advisors. These will help them decide if they want to opt out by moving out of the locality, state, or country (see this post for a related idea).
- Education: This is one where the service will be a bit better than mediocre (as with certain parts of the protection service). In fact, education will be reformed and improved (finally), shaped by scientific study and accord. Training will be provided to all that want it for any jobs they want, though certification will be thorough and tough, ensuring only people good at requisite tasks will become certified for a given job.