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Do Public Services Cost Us?

Not Helping People Who Struggle Costs More Than Helping Them.

I talk about this kind of thing a lot, and I like to bring up things like Public Health, Public Education, Social Services, Employment Insurance, Addiction Services, Public Health Care. As I mentioned, these things don’t cost money – or rather, they pay for themselves.

It’s to society’s benefit that the most people possible are healthy, educated, well fed, have homes, are paid enough to live comfortably. Individuals also benefit from these things, but an individual’s benefit isn’t the purpose.

When people are struggling, the whole society struggles. You have increased crime rates, lower productivity – or no productivity in the case of addicts not getting proper support. A society that provides proper support saves itself money, because more people are productive.

None of these things are tailored to, designed to, or meant to help individuals at all. They do, but that’s a side effect. The purpose is to make a stronger, healthier, smarter, happier society. Some in power make the argument “but they don’t deserve it, they have to earn it”

That punishes individuals, but it also weakens society. Services were never about helping a person – and some act like that’s what it is. Services are about improving and building a safer, more resilient collective of people.

Punishing individuals, forcing them to suffer, makes everyone more vulnerable. A society is only as strong as its weakest members.

Some, but fewer, individuals might thrive more under that ideological path, but average quality of life for the whole drops.

It may sound heartless to say that individuals don’t matter under the “system”, and it’s not true. A system designed around keeping everyone safe, making everyone smarter – everyone matters, you can’t let anyone fall through the cracks.

There will always be some who abuse the system – and there will always be some who push boundaries, thrive beyond the norm, but neither the wealthy, nor the poor, should define a society, or be “normal” – everyone should have their needs met, and have opportunities to achieve their dreams.

The costs of not providing those basic needs are the bones of society crumble. Individuals can’t build a society without the people around them, and individuals can’t sustain a society without other members supporting them.

So, does cutting social programs save money? No, it costs money to cut social programs, because it reduces the number of people contributing, working, and healthy – and that’s a price that’s paid for cruelty and suffering, which are the only things we gain via austerity.

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