The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


The welfare state

Most political scholars will tell you that the government’s role is to protect its citizens. This is most visible through military action and the move to secure our borders, through police and firefighting forces, and through the judicial system and the many laws that have been created.

But, what else counts as protecting your citizens? As long as you protect them from any outside or violent threats, have you lived up to your responsibility? Are you a good government if that’s all you do?

What if national security is the best it could ever be but your elderly and poor are suffering and unable to feed themselves or their families, unable to afford medications and the health care they need to survive? Are you still a good government?

I believe that protecting citizens goes further than just law enforcement and national security.

The government has the responsibility to provide its citizens with a good quality of life and to help them when they’re in need. This is manifested in the United States with programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Welfare.

Before you all start ranting that poor people take advantage of welfare and we shouldn’t be doling out money to those who are having more children than they can take care of and spending their welfare money on big screen televisions and iPods, let’s take a look at welfare states in other parts of the world, like (and this will garner an equal amount of ranting) France.

France is a massive welfare state. Sure, it has its problems with religious tolerance and neo-Nazis running for prime minister, but who doesn’t?

And, sure, it can be pretty arrogant, but isn’t the reason that the United States and France clash so much because we’re both that arrogant?

France’s government is not only providing for the area of Western Europe that’s labeled “France” on a map (can you find it?), but also for the many colonies it has refused to give up and who have voted to remain part of France, too.

One of these colonies is French Polynesia, which includes Tahiti. Tahiti is completely supported by France – they have French government schools, roads, hospitals, clinics, military bases, airports, shipping, etc., and the French government pays for all those programs and public works.

On top of this, France’s welfare state system allows for every parent to receive about $600 per month per child in all of France, not just Tahiti.

There is also a mandatory retirement age, 60, and everyone receives the same amount of money every month once they’re 60, even if they’ve never paid into the system, like most Tahitians. France also has socialized health care.

So, why does this matter? Tahiti has one of the highest standards of living in the world, and it’s largely because of France’s welfare state system.

If you’re thinking right now that socialized health care brings long lines and poor treatment, you’re wrong. France’s health care system is the best in the world.

If the government is supposed to protect us from attacks and crime, as well as from tobacco and alcohol, then how about protecting us from poor standards of living? Sure, a system like France’s would cost a lot more for us, since we have more people, and where would we get that money?

Well, one place would be Bush’s tax cuts. That $880 billion that went back into American’s hands and to purchasing American products and stimulating the economy could have covered the Social Security deficit and provided for the baby boomers and our generation three times over.

Instead of giving Americans a little money back now, the government could have provided for us for decades, which would have helped the American people much more in the long run.

Sure, we got food for that month if we received money back from the government, and we were able to pay some bills, but this other way could have helped us do those things for the last decades of our lives.

Social Security and Medicare don’t go just to elderly retirees. They also go to the disabled who are unable to care for themselves, like my little sister who has Down syndrome.

These are all programs that need to be fixed, mended and reformed so that they can adequately assist the government in protecting its citizens.

Katy Rowe is a senior English and anthropology major. She may be contacted at [email protected].

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