Future Beacon

The Free-Enterprise Safety Net

      The financial upward mobility of the individual citizen is absolutely essential to the long-term prosperity of any country. Laws, customs and informational resources must permit innovation and encourage individuals in their efforts to transform ambitious dreams into real businesses and rewarding employment. Only free markets can ensure this upward mobility for individuals within a society.

      The economic well being of a country depends not only on carefully protecting and fostering economic opportunity for competent, able-bodied people of working age, it also depends upon the compassionate and intelligent support of those who must focus on their mere survival. A safety net for the disabled, and for impoverished people of retirement age is both necessary and desirable for the preservation of free enterprise. For people in such circumstances, only a safety net can preserve hope and opportunity. Because the government is charged with preserving the life and liberty of all of its citizens, it must stand ready to act as the charity of last resort. If it is possible to be homeless or hungry in your country, these circumstances will inevitably be used to help convince the unwitting to vote for socialism. At the same time, some retired and disabled citizens have found ways to rejoin the workforce and have also been known to create businesses. These outcomes, which greatly benefit the society at large, can only be realized if these citizens are first saved from homelessness.

      For these reasons, it is important to have vagrancy laws and social services. When a person is detained for sleeping on a park bench or the like, a process should ensue that confirms that person's identity and address. A person found to be homeless must be investigated by the police to determine whether that person is wanted for a crime or misdemeanor. If this is not the case, that person must be evaluated by social services officials to discover any possible incompetence or disability. Vagrancy should be considered a violation resulting in a fine. Repeated violations should result in some period of incarceration. In short, it should be impossible in any city to find people sleeping in public places.

      Ensuring that every disabled person and every person beyond working age has an income and a place to live does not require that the government to own the factories. It does not require that middle-class people receive financial benefits from the government. Neither does it require the government to support the arts and humanities or, indeed, to support anything other than defense, law enforcement, the courts and the legislative process. A safety net effective enough to prevent homelessness, hunger and abject poverty could not ever be a large fraction of an otherwise free-market economy. Using tax funds to financially benefit a class of voters to motivate them to vote for a particular candidate is a corruption that must not be allowed to continue. Excepting the retired and the disabled, a citizen's government benefits should be comprised of defense, law enforcement, justice and economic opportunity.

      The Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs at this web address reports that the United States spent 17.4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care in 2009 and that all other countries spent less than that fraction of their GDP on health care. That includes costs to both those who could pay for their own health care and those who could not.

      The Institute for Research on Poverty at this web address says that 14.3% of the people in the United States were poor in 2009 and that 8.9% were also 65 or older.

      In the worst of times, the number of unemployed workers is 20% or less. In cases where the employee has no control over becoming unemployed and works diligently to find another job, the current system provides some level of unemployment insurance. Private insurance is best from a small-government point of view and certainly the federal government has no role in such things according the powers granted to the States and denied to the federal government by the Constitution. Unfortunately, the federal government has intruded into many areas reserved for the States and the private sector.

      The work force could well afford to maintain a safety net if they enjoyed an otherwise free-market economic system unencumbered by middle-class socialism.


      This article is a personal opinion. Please feel free to write to me directly for more information or to make suggestions or comments. My email address is jim@futurebeacon.com. You can also go to my contact page to get my full contact information. Suggestions, questions, additional information, critiques, and opposing opinions are very welcome.