What Morally Should The State Be Doing?
October 21, 2015 5:55am CST
The title refers to the Tuesday 20th October 2015 meeting of the Manchester Armchair Philosophy Group, who meet monthly in Chorlton. The meeting was chaired by Mary Crumpton, John Hulls and introduced by Chris Burke. Chris noted that we are becoming a more individual-centred society in the UK (we rarely touched on global politics here at this event) with many looking after themselves and competing with others. The State is shrinking by assigning more responsibility to private bodies, and charities. Austerity measures mean drastic, even draconian cutbacks in many services and welfare. Chris raised the matter of the state's moral responsibility the destitute. Should they be obliged to help the poor at all? Is support for the needy enough? Is it coming too soon or too late? Many people are denied housing, while the wealthy are getting custom designed apartments. There was no doubt that some nations take less care of the needy than the UK does. Opened to the attendees for a general reaction to the topic, many felt it was too broad a question and some were unhappy to deal with party politics. It was felt that the State has an obligation to support those unable to get by without a helping hand. It is selfish and callous to deny support to the needy. It was felt that we should go for a laissez-faire approach to government, with more freedom from State interference or intervention, as opposed to freedom for unlimited spending or endless acquisition of wealth. The State was defined as a body having a monopoly over a geographical region of the planet and the peoples in that region. Given that many governing states have opposition parties to their governments it should never be allowed to amount to monopoly rule. The Welfare State should not be dissolved as for many it is the only defence against destitution and outright starvation. The question of what kind of State is best raised the point that even wanting a State at all was presumptive. Anarchic withdrawal from state control was advocated too, provoking some strong discussion. Someone said we need the State but that it should be both above and answerable to society. I disagree in part as a State that rises above us could crush us, both with its power and if it topples politically. In a democratic State the State is accountable to the masses but often only in five yearly general elections. It was impossible to talk politics without talking economics and money. The government in the UK is seen as wilfully putting too much money into too few hands. In the three member group I was in for the discussion, we agreed that a return to a pre-Thatcher era democratic-socialism would work best in the UK. Adequate council housing affordable to all would be better than the government’s current approach to selling off council houses to the more affluent. We are seeing more and more homeless, and disabled people living on the streets, surviving on food banks, which is a national scandal. In Spain, welfare is often withdrawn totally after six months leaving many at risk of starvation. France reduces welfare payments but does not deny its needy some benefits. British politicians are almost wilfully revoking Magna Carta and acting without accountability. With a severely weakened political opposition, Prime Minister Cameron is wilfully doing whatever he likes though many are angered by it. People have shown that enough angry non-violent voices can defeat unpopular policies such as the Poll Tax and ID cards. Cameron could well fall to his party cabinet as Thatcher did before him. The welfare system is flawed as many people with ever expanding families and having more children than they can raise without welfare payments can drain the economy. It would be insensitive to ban large families or to take children away for fostering from parents with more than two children. Investment in education is essential to show people the folly of having larger families than they can adequately feed, clothe and house. A charity, Population Matters, was recommended as promoting a culture for smaller families. With a world of depleted economic resources and scarcity of oil and even water, a grab what you can more more more race by the rich is sheer madness. There is really no excuse for the existence of multi-billionaires when so many have nothing. Just how much money does someone need to get by in life? Redistribution of wealth and resources is essential to human survival. Our government isn’t reducing the gap between wealth and poverty but actively widening it. Arthur Chappell
3 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
21 Oct 15
hard lines there, who would decide what's fair. What if someone actually worked for that money and the poor person sat on the couch and ate chips all day and never tried to work a day in his life? is it fair to take money from one and just give it to the other? Oh I know many changes need to be made, but figuring out how and what and how to fairly regulate seems impossible,