With every jump society makes, there will always be the argument that it's not fair to those who came before and had to make do without that public benefit. Long, long ago there were no police. You had to learn to protect yourself, or hire someone to protect you, any time you ventured out. When the members of society decided to chip in and create a public police force, it wasn't fair to those who spent a great deal of money protecting themselves in the prior years. Yet, I believe most people would agree it has helped society move forward as a whole.
The same occurred with our public roadways. Before the public roads system was created here in the United States, commerce was limited by the available transportation. We decided as a society to put our money together and create pathways that allow anyone, and not just the very rich, to move about the country. We could have decided it was too expensive and instead left it to the large business owners to build private roads. These private roads would have restricted travel, preventing small business owners from expanding. The rich probably argued at the time how it was unfair that their tax money should be used in this way since they had already spent so much on securing transportation for their goods. After all, they worked hard for their money, why should they be forced to give hand-outs to the less fortunate? In the end, because we made a large investment in infrastructure, our entire economy grew strong and allowed the birth of inventions beyond our wildest dreams.
In this new era, we need to invest in our society as whole once again in two very important areas: healthcare and education. Healthcare provides much needed protection for individuals in our society. In our technological world, a college education is the equivalent of mobility in terms of being able to share and explore the ideas that will benefit our world in ways we cannot yet imagine.
Once we bring up the concept of publically financed healthcare and college education, the old argument of "it's not fair" rises. I feel it too. I've spent thousands on medical costs, and even more on student loans. To see someone else not have to pay and sacrifice the way I did hurts the ego. A part of me says, "Well I did it, so can they." Yet I also know the economy has changed and both healthcare and education costs have skyrocketed beyond what a typical person can earn. A health crisis easily leads to bankruptcy and higher education has changed from an act of learning and expansion into a means to an end.
When individuals in a society cannot protect themselves or explore new territory, the society as a whole stops evolving. As citizens struggle just to survive, the economic engine chokes.
Perhaps this is too abstract for people to see. Or if you like a good conspiracy, it's the super wealthy seeking even more power and control over the population. More than likely, people are just busy trying to survive day to day and don't take time out to see the bigger picture. Maybe we're all too tired to even think we can make a difference.
The good news is not only can we stop the economic and societal stagnation we face as a country, we can actually reverse it. The current presidential election has brought up the many inadequacies of our political system, and has galvanized the public in ways that has not been seen in many, many years. We can keep this pressure building and push our leaders into providing the real security we need in the form of public healthcare and college education for the members of our society.
Over time, perhaps all of us will realize for a society to continue to evolve, we must lift the lowest members in order for the highest to continue to rise.
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What do you think: Are Public Services Fair? Do they benefit only the poor, or do they help us all?
To read more by Jenna Sundell, visit her blog at www.jennasundell.com. If you enjoyed this piece, explore more like it in the "Soapbox" category on her site. You can also find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jennasundellauthor
(Article photo from Pixabay.com)