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[personal profile] mahogany
As much as I like the idea of government sponsored safety net - I often think the price of having the government as a caregiver is too high. It's not even the fact that we pay for it through our taxes. The money of it through higher taxes isn't even the part that bugs me. I guess it's some residue of my leftist tendencies from my youth, but I do feel responsibility for the wellbeing of others. Over the past few years, I've the increasing belief that the government should not be the caregiver of the people. We give up too much in personal freedoms, and it leads to disasters like this heartbreaking situation:

I don't even think this is a slippery slope. I think what's happening with this case in Sweden is the natural and inevitable result when people give up the personal liberties in exchange for an extensive social safety net.

ETA: This is excellent - LONG, but excellent:

Date: 2011-07-13 07:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm not convinced by one cherry-picked case, however appalling. I mean you could - on the other side - pick out terrible cases about places where there's ineffectual government and many kids miss altogether out on education, or where they're NOT taken by government from a home where they're being abused or whatever.

I agree about the need to be diligent about protecting our liberties, I agree that we need to be very cautious about giving them up to government, I'm just not so sure there's always a direct and equivalent link between "government sponsored safety net" and loss of liberties.

Freedom can also be 'just another word for nothing left to lose'. How do you weigh up the freedom of a well-educated person who has a good, steady job, to choose to holiday in Fiji every year thanks to a tax-cut versus the loss of freedom of a beneficiary to have enough support to be able to buy groceries to feed her family, due to government measures enacted to 'tighten-up' the welfare system in part to close the budget gap created by the tax-cut? That choice is exactly what has happened here in NZ - we see the effects of it everyday at the Centre.

Date: 2011-07-14 01:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For me, it's not about the taxes. Canada is a pretty heavily taxed country, but for the most part, I don't really mind. There are inefficiencies that could be eliminated, but all-in-all, from a money perspective, it's not that surprising.

Yes, I did cherry pick a case because it's so shocking and horrendous - it's an extreme example of what can happen in a society that has given up so much in exchange for such and extensive social net. We're not talking a bit of a social net to help people get by in their time of need. We're talking one of the most comprehensive most far reaching social nets in the world. And what they've given up in exchange for this is enormous. Their data collection on the citizens, for example, is much more invasive. The right to personal privacy, and to live slightly outside the box has been curtailed. It even impacts the parenting. Not only is it not affordable for most Swedes to raise a family on one income - it's virtually unheard of. The daycare is provided, and the citizens are expected to use it, and work. There are sectors in Canada that are pushing for government sponsored daycare. It scares the living daylights out of me. Yes, there is an urgent need for quality, affordable childcare. Yes, I would support that even if it meant slightly higher taxes for me. HOWEVER, universal government sponsored daycare has the potential be a scary thing - especially if it takes wrong turn somewhere and results in less liberty.

Sure, there are horrific cases of neglect and abuse on a parental side, but giving up our liberty hasn't solved the problem. It hasn't gone away. It happens here. It happens in Sweden. It happens to homeschooled kids, and it happens to kids in the school system. It is now illegal to homeschool in Sweden (although it was still legal when Dominic Johanssen was taken). From my perspective, this is a huge move backward and it is infringing on parent's right to raise their child as best as s/he/they see fit.

Date: 2011-07-17 05:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If you have time, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. It's really long.

Date: 2011-07-17 09:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks - I did only look at 10 minutes of it so he'd barely got started on the full hour - but he's a good speaker - so if I (or anyone else) did have more time for the topic it would a good video recommendation...

Just to be clear: I don't think banning homeschooling is a good idea, nor do I think 'forced daycare' is a good idea :) Clearly that'd be a nutty position to take. And it sounds like there may be some negatives of the early-age daycare thing.

What I wanted to protest in my previous reply was any suggestion/implication that involvement by 'the State' is an inevitable harbinger of loss of 'freedom' in general, and that where it is a loss of 'freedom' that is always a bad thing. 1st - it depends on what the involvement is: parents in NZ can homeschool, there are govt requirements that they teach to a certain standard, also in NZ there are two alternatives to ordinary schools within the State system itself (distance education, and alternative education...and even semi-private/semi-govt options like Catholic schools); 2nd it depends on what 'freedoms' we are talking about (see the other response); and 3rd, all govts are not created equal when it comes to responding to the wishes of their citizens (though it's true even the best fall short of what they could be); 4th (which relates to 2nd) even where there are certain losses of freedom, sometimes that is a legitimate choice, most obviously if say the exercise of the freedom being restricted would harm others, but even sometimes where a clear choice is being made that competing values have to be weighed, and a choice about those values is made.

One other tangential observation I'd also make about the Scandinavian countries is that I believe that (for better & worse) they have a much stronger collectivist culture of social-norming than Anglo traditions and French tradition: even in the absence of State activity, I would suggest that these societies would be both in some ways more egalitarian & supportive and - in some ways - less tolerant of social difference (check out Scandinavian folk tales that hammer home the message of the perils of leaving poor strangers out in the snow!)


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