On June 5, Switzerland voted overwhelmingly (77% voted against) to stop govt.granting a basic minimum pay of about 2500 Swiss Francs (around 1.7 lacs Indian Rupees per month) for every adult & smaller subsidy for children (read news). Americans have also fought tooth and nail against the ‘Affordable Care Act’ (also called ‘Obamacare’) (report), that guarantees universal healthcare facility to all citizens. This might surprise us, to the extent that many of us would call them fools. Others might say that they are rich countries and hence, don’t bother to receive support from government.
The truth however, is different. Swiss and Americans are not fools. They have the best minds on the planet. Swiss company, Nestlé has governed global FMCG market for many many decades. And Americans have proved themselves to be superior in every domain you can name. The question then comes is: why are they rejecting such lucrative offers from the government (guranteed minium income, universal healthcare, etc). The answer is: they understand how govt. works. We don’t.
For most people in Barak Valley (and same applies throughout my country), govt.is a rich dad whose pocket never dries. Just as kids don’t bother about father’s salary when putting forth new demands, we also act as kids when it comes to government.
Thus, if I don’t have a job, govt is responsible. If my foothpath is broken, govt is responsible. If a storm has damaged my house, govt is responsible for not giving aid. And, the list is endless.
The truth however is that, govts also have limitation of income. It can’t just go on spending on everything. Most people would hesitate to accept the fact that govt has limited income; they would argue; why can’t it print more money. They won’t understand that just printing more money reduces the purchasing power of money. Thus, if the country today has 100 trillion rupees. And if the govt. just goes ahead and prints another 100 trillion, the price of an egg that is costing Rs. 5 today will start costing Rs. 10 tomorrow. Will that help? The govt’s income would actually increase when instead of printing more money, the country produces more goods and services that can be consumed domestically and also exported. Zimbabwe, an African country ruled by a corrupt ruler Robert Mugabe kept on printing money without increasing economic growth. Today, you will need to pay several billion (100 crore) Zimbabwean dollars to buy a chicken! 🙂
So, coming back to the original topic, governments can not and should not solve everything. When the concept of ‘nation state’ was discussed by early political scientists, govt’s role was seen merely as that of maintaining law and order. Gradually, the concept of welfare state developed and govt’s role started expanding to supporting basic amenities and caring for the welfare people. Now, while doing this, the poor (and sometimes, the lazy ones) got help. But, the sad part is that, govt started heavily taxing the rich and middle class to cover that expense And, since most public representatives are people with questionable ethics, political corruption also started because the corrupted politicians were deciding where to spend the billions & trillions of dollars collected through indiscriminate taxation. Thus, to sum up, asking govt to do everything would mean, asking it to tax you even more. And then, politicians will eat Rs. 90 and give you Rs. 10 out of 100. Again, you will complain that the country is corrupt.
So, what’s the solution? The solution is simple. Start earning your own bread (or rice):) Let govt maintain security and basic work. Let the country move towards a ‘minimal govt’ model. The Americans are doing that, the Swiss are doing that. They are smart, we are the real fools.
Disagree? Do not hesitate to post your views.