Wednesday, May 06, 2009


From a forum discussion... I reaffirmed my long-held belief that while there are aspects of a society that must be managed centrally and provided universally - such as healthcare, education etc. - the state's involvement should be limited to safety nets, ensuring minimum sustenance, but certainly not a comfortable living standard. Society is not obligated to support those who choose not to contribute, and highly developed welfare states do tend to produce that type of mentality, at least in some parts of the population.

The inevitable and, I'll admit, reasonable response to that was, Hardly surprising that an economically self sufficient 20-something with a high disposable income thinks that, is it?

Uh-huh, but I grew up as the child of a newspaper editor in a postsoviet economy. I'm not a trustafarian, so I get to say things like that.

Wow, you really don't have any idea how privileged you are, do you? You actually earned everything you have on your own accord?

I was lucky enough to be born in a country that became part of the Western world within my lifetime. Other than that - my education was paid for by the state (which is why I consistently say that education should be state-sponsored), and my healthcare costs were covered by the state as well (and I absolutely believe that universal healthcare is a non-negotiable human right).

My parents supported me in university, but didn't completely pay my way - I worked starting from the second semester until I graduated. I have never claimed any sort of unemployment benefit from the state. I got a state-sponsored cheap student loan, which is a system that I like and recommend, but it wasn't vital. I got my job by putting up a CV on a website, it had nothing to do with family connections or university old-boy networking (but, I suppose, everything to do with living in a country whose government found a way to attract massive amounts of foreign direct investment). My apartment was bought using inheritance as a down payment, but I'm covering the mortgage.

So - a question to both regular readers and people who know me in real life - exactly how hypocritical am I?


Colm said...

It's a tough one. The state should support those less fortune it society due to malchance or circumstance like the mentally and physically disabled, those kids born to less-privillaged families and tha aged who worked hard to contribute to the current good fortunes enjoyed by younger generations but who no longer get a salary in tehse good times.

Ye are lucky in Estonia: funded healthcare, funded education, mother's salary etc. In Ireland education and health and children are seriously under funded but I'm not complaining too much. There's benefits and drawbacks to an government, state or system. It could be worse.

The thing to get right is the balance. State support shouldn't mean sponging. Those who can work should work. Wasters shouldn't be supported, but who decides who is doing the wasting?

Mingus said...

As an economically self-sufficient 30-something with a relatively high disposable income, I have to say I enjoy paying taxes in Estonia, because, a: we all pay the same cut of what we earn, so there's no reason to try to get out of it; b: I know that so long as we don't have idiots running the show up on Toompea my children will have good, decent health insurance and education; and c: if I ever need good, decent health insurance, I don't have to worry. So long as we don't have idiots running the show up on Toompea.

I don't feel embarrassed when asked about the Estonian system, like I do when asked about the US system or I would if asked about the French system (if I were French).


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