Friday, June 04, 2004

Why we have public services

Further to the below, Jordan Carter has a good post on the subject of "what % of GDP should we spend?", which lays out the consequences of shrinking relative government spending. The overall conclusion?

There is a really clear link and a really obvious point to be made: you get what you pay for. If people want a lower tax ratio, then they will have to accept one of two things:

* poorer quality public services; or
* privatisation of some public services.

There are no two ways around it, and it is on this ground that the next election will be fought.

Obviously, I'm for decent, well-funded public services. As I point out in this post, generous public services are neccessary for people's freedom to be meaningful. If we want everyone to be able to pursue their individual vision of the good, then we have to insulate them from risk - the risks of being born poor, falling ill, or being crippled in an accident, for example. And we do this by providing publicly funded health, education and welfare systems. That way, everyone gets a decent start in life, and there is a certain level beneath which you cannot fall. It's called giving people a "fair go" - something which this country is renowned for.

Those who want to shrink public services do not want to give everyone a fair go. And that is why we should oppose them.