General Question

Hobbes's avatar

Would you agree that all humans should have free access to the following things?

Asked by Hobbes (7255 points ) July 12th, 2010

Clean, fresh air
Clean, fresh water
A range of healthy and tasty food
Immediate, competent, compassionate medical care
Funeral services
Prevention of and protection from violence, natural disasters and accidental harm.
Impartial mediation of conflicts
Space and materials for research and creative work
Communications and information technology
Access to competent and informed education in any subject
Access to parts of nature untouched by human intervention
Efficient and clean waste disposal
Cleanly generated power
An efficient and pleasant Public Transportation system

A furnished dwelling which is structurally sound, keeps out the elements, is spacious, comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and in which it is possible to regulate the temperature. This dwelling should have areas for cooking, dining, working, toilet/grooming, sleeping and general living and should be located so that the occupants have easy access to everything listed above.

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If we were somehow able to guarantee every human being access to all these things, and the accompanying maintenance and infrastructure, I believe nearly all interpersonal violence would stop. Would you agree?

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68 Answers

CaptainHarley's avatar

No. Only a small number of those things are guaranteed in the Costitution.

As an ideal, some of those might be laudable, but the Declaration of Independence guarantees the ”pursuit of happiness,” not happiness itself. That’s OUR responsibility as citizens.

TexasDude's avatar

The first rule of economics: there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Seriously. Someone will wind up paying for this stuff.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Dream on, we can’t even find much clean water and air much less provide free access to it.

lillycoyote's avatar

How about we start with this? It will be hard enough to make this a reality, let alone what you propose.

anartist's avatar

No. There is no way these things could be guaranteed by every nation to every person. Who would pay the bill? And, even if they were, human nature is such that people would just find something else to fight about.

rooeytoo's avatar

I do have free access to all those things, all I have to do is work to pay for them. They would have no value if they were given to me.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I agree with @anartist. Even if you managed to give each person those things, they would still fight about other things and want what other people have.

ubersiren's avatar

I don’t think everyone should be guaranteed these things, but everyone should have the right to pursue these things for free. In other words, if I build a house to live in, a garden to eat from, etc. on some land that nobody owns, I don’t believe anyone should be allowed to charge a fee (property tax) just for being there. What a bunch of horse shit.

Once upon a time, all these things were free. But things are “better” now.

Enter @SmashTheState

tinyfaery's avatar

It might. First the world needs to experience a drastic shift in consciousness. A shift we haven’t seen since the age of enlightenment.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

@ubersiren….I agree.

I don’t think that we should be guaranteed that. Because it’s not so much that someone will have to pay for it…..but who would we beholden to for those things? Things in this current unenlightened world are never free. Everything comes with a price.

Violence won’t be curbed by having all these free things. You can give people everything on this list and it will do nothing for curbing violence.

Violence stems from anger which comes from fear. Eliminate fear and only then you will have a non-violent world.

I still dream of a world without fear.

marinelife's avatar

I think you’re dreaming! Also, if people had all of those things with no effort on their parts, there would be nothing to strive for.

UScitizen's avatar

No. Those who choose to NOT be productive members of society should not have all of the rights that the hard working taxpayer has.
@CaptainHarley You are a constitutional lawyer.

tinyfaery's avatar

“Also, if people had all of those things with no effo0rt on their parts, there would be nothing to strive for.” This is the fallacy that we need to overcome.

beancrisp's avatar

@lillycoyote Article 29 section 3 make it worthless.

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Jeruba's avatar

No. Would it be great if everyone had these things? Sure. But to say “should have”—as though the universe were obligated to provide those things, or, failing that, other human beings (presumably in the form of government or other institutions)? No. I think people are responsible for providing for their own needs to the greatest extent possible, and to give them everything isn’t healthy for them. People should not expect to have very much handed to them, although I do see that most people want to receive and pay for many of these things collectively, and that’s fine. How in the world could they all be free? Impossible.

I don’t believe anyone needs communications and information technology, nor have I ever seen anyone benefit from his or her own funeral service.

I think if people had all these things guaranteed to them, they would expect more and more and be inclined to do less and less, and they would still be dissatisfied because it is in them to be dissatisfied. Some would be unhappy because they think everyone deserves exactly equal benefits and doesn’t get them, and some would be unhappy because they think everyone gets exactly equal benefits and doesn’t deserve them.

Zaku's avatar

Interesting how many people are responding with resigned answers, answers about money, negative assertions about human nature, etc.

And you just said “have free access to” and many people are replying as if you said, “be given without having to provide anything in return.”

I think people want some other things too, that cause violence, such as freedom of religion, freedom to live in a culture they relate to and feel accepted and valued in, feelings of safety, access to their families, people to fall in love with, some want freedom to reproduce, freedom of expression, privacy… probably other things. Some people are powermongers, paranoids, abuse victims, etc., too, and they tend to be responsible for a lot of violence. The things on your list seem largely about goods and services.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, but, plenty would also just BE happy!

Hey…as long as it’s a fantasy lets be generous…I say give ‘em everything their hearts desire.

nikipedia's avatar

Wow, what the hell? Yes, everyone should have free access to those things. Sheesh.

I think conflict would still exist owing to all the degrees of mental illness that are not externally induced or exacerbated. And shit would still happen. Accidents, misunderstandings, straight up greed from the evolutionary “cheaters.”

But it would be pretty sweet overall.

lillycoyote's avatar

@beancrisp It doesn’t make it worthless since it is non-binding document to begin with. It doesn’t make the ideas in it worthless. Any more than the fact that, ever since its institution, our government has found a fair amount of” wiggle room” in the Constitution or at least in it’s own “mind”, when it wanted to, even though that is a binding document, makes the Constitution a worthless document. (That was not at all a very well constructed sentence, but you know what I mean).

YARNLADY's avatar

I agree with that utopian dream, except your last sentence. People who live with all those things today, still manage to find things to disagree about.

RANGIEBABY's avatar

NO,Personally, I think we should have our God given rights, and we should earn the rest. Yes, it would be nice if the earth was clean, and could be if politics and money weren’t such big factors in this world. I think a great many of the problems, if left up to the people could be solved, and solved quickly without government intervention. Far too many people have depended on the government for everything, we have lost the idea even, of how effective we as a people can be.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@nikipedia

So where’s all this going to come from? Who’s going to do the work requred to make things this way? Who’s going to pay them for their work?

Do you truly believe that everything should be handed to people as their birthright?

fundevogel's avatar

Was I the only person who immediately thought of the Gaza Strip and how those people don’t have access to these things, not because they won’t work for them, but because they live in a ghetto under siege?

Yes some of these things are luxuries, but a lot of them are necessities. The fact that some people are unable to obtain them on their own doesn’t mean they should have to do without things like clean water, food or medical care. The whole reason humans are social animals is because we benefit from community and cooperation. We take care of those that can’t take care of themselves knowing that one day we may also need to rely on the help of the community. The fact that our community now exceeds our monkeysphere should not release us from our responsibility to each other just because now we don’t have to put a face to those in need.

I suspect the point of this list is not entitlement of a few but a collection of ideas on how to make communities better for everyone. The last several in particular serve the long term needs of community not unlike when public sanitation was finally put into practice. Seriously, if you’re in favor of public sanitation you can’t really say clean waste disposal is a luxury.

Coloma's avatar

I think we’re just playing wth a little levity, I know I am.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Necessaties: Food, water, clothing, shelter

Luxuries: Everything else!

fundevogel's avatar

@CaptainHarley Then you support abolishing the fire department, judical system, police force, public library and waste removal services?

nikipedia's avatar

@CaptainHarley: That wasn’t the question! @Hobbes asked a theoretical question about how things should be—i.e., is this something we should strive for? What, then, might the consequences be?

How to go about the practical end of achieving these goals—if we all agree they’re worth pursuing—is a completely separate question, and you are perfectly welcome to start your own thread to discuss it.

And yes, I do think people should have some things handed to them. And I don’t think anything @Hobbes mentioned is unreasonable.

Hobbes's avatar

@nikipedia – Thank you, that’s entirely true. I’m asking whether the described state of affairs would be desirable if it could hypothetically be achieved. I am not proposing any specific system for the creation and distribution of these things, just stating that all humans should have them.

I am of the belief that people have a desire to do work which is fulfilling. I do not think that people will stop striving or creating or inquiring if they are freely given the means to maintain a comfortable life.

Also, note that I said I didn’t expect it to end all violence, just most of it.

Jabe73's avatar

Morally speaking in an ideal world I would say yes but for all of this to be reality it would take some sacrafices as well. With an ever increasing world population this seems a very unlikely scenerio.

perspicacious's avatar

No, I don’t think everything on your list should be free for everyone.

RANGIEBABY's avatar

@CaptainHarley I agree completely with you.

Necessities: Food, water, clothing, shelter

Luxuries: Everything else!
Since I believe what @Hobbes is proposing, is so far fetched as to have FREE access to all of those things, is an impossible feat, it is almost silly.
I do not think it would stop violence. No all violence is derived from deprivation of things. Having all of those things would not change the personality, and makeup of a person when they are born. Yes, it would stop some, but people will always find something to release anger for whatever reason.

nikipedia's avatar

Some people have no imagination.

Hobbes's avatar

As far as I know, the means of production exist in the world to provide everyone with those things. I believe the problem is one of organization, not lack of means or resources.

@RANGIEBABY – And yet many many people live in the world today without reliable access to any of those necessities.

Again, I do not think it would stop all violence or crime, but I think that they would lessen dramatically.

rooeytoo's avatar

Actually I have seen people who do have all of that and more provided by the government. Most chose not to avail themselves of the opportunities and actually destroyed a lot of what they did use. And why not, it was replaced at no cost to themselves, they have no vested interest. I think humans are basically lazy and it is a fact that lethargy breeds lethargy. So unless I am working towards a goal, I am not good for much and I really don’t think I am that different than most.

Hobbes's avatar

Perhaps the difference is in the “and more”. Who exactly are you referring to? Lottery winners? It is true that money and material possessions cannot buy happiness or fulfillment, but I am not talking about a millionare-style of living. I do not think that the basic motivation to pursue a goal should be the fear of being unable to maintain a decent standard of living.

wundayatta's avatar

I doubt that these things would eliminate interpersonal violence. The more we have, the more we need to have. Why? Because status is crucial to human society. We will always create ways to attempt to raise our status above others. How else could we improve our chances of evolutionary success?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

***Clean, fresh air
***Clean, fresh water
***Immediate, competent, compassionate medical care
***Prevention of and protection from violence, natural disasters and accidental harm.
** Access to competent and informed education in any subject
+++Efficient and clean waste disposal
+++Cleanly generated power
+++An efficient and safe Public Transportation system
+++A safe, solid place to live they can afford with all the basic amenities
+++A variety of safe, healthy and tasty food
+++Opportunity to do interesting creative work for a reasonable income
+++Space and materials for research and creative work
+++Communications and information technology
++Access to parts of nature untouched by human intervention
++Impartial mediation of conflicts
-Funeral services

*** means should be available to all at no cost
** means should be available to a certain level at no cost, to hiher levels more
at reasonable additional cost
+++ means should be accessible to all but at a fair price
++ means nice to have accessible to all but at a fair price
– means optional service nice to have at a reasonable cost

JLeslie's avatar

I am going to assume free access actually means able to use for free. No, I don’t think all of the things you list should be free. But, I like the ideal of it. I am for a society where everyone has the ability to access these things, and also where people are compensated well enough that anyone who works full time makes enough money to live safely and enjoy the things you mention.

Even if your utopia existed, I don’t think it would end all violence, but I think it would be reduced. There would still be mental illness, abusive families, and sociopaths who are raising another generation of sociopaths, dysfunction would not completely disappear, but I do think living in good conditions where people feel safe and cared for, very much reduces the occurance of criminal minds and behaviour.

whitenoise's avatar

No, I don’t think they should be made available for free, but I feel that they should achieveable for all. This means in my mind they should be free for some, cheap for some and on market price for most.

Government regulation may be key, as long as it remains marginal and does not disrupt markets mechanics to such an extent that the incentive for people to contribute is lost.

truecomedian's avatar

Yes the world would be a happier place, we’d all be yuppies. But as for the possibility of this, it would be real tough. We would have to give in to a world ruler that we would have to trust to supply everyone with these things. Personally, I wish there was a way to have less people, and more balance of material possessions. If there was a way to regulate that, so that the world would be less polluted and everyone living would have more, that would be great. I’m aware I sound like an amateur eugenicist, sorry, dont mean to. It’s just that, why do we need more people?

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whatthefluther's avatar

….and free good booze and nothing but good news.

See ya…...Gary/wtf

Hobbes's avatar

@truecomedian – I don’t think that list describes yuppies, but just a comfortable standard of living. I also don’t think it’s necessarily true that we would have to rely on a world leader to supply all these things. As I said, the means of production are available, it’s a matter of will and organization.

truecomedian's avatar

@Hobbes I don’t mean yuppies in a bad way. You just described an ideal, yuppies strived towards a common ideal like you outlined. Now people like me that live very meager, tedious, exsistances have to go without much of that. But I wish I had what you outlined.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think of it as yuppie either, and I also am not saying yuppie in a bad way. I think of yuppie as being focused on career and material things, and parts of the list aren’t. Some of these things, if we all had access, even free access to them, would not mean we all would be wearing Ralph Lauren shirts, driving a BMW, and owning a house in a gated community. I can easily see some hippies, academia types, and more living in the environment described.

mattbrowne's avatar

Under normal circumstances, yes.

After a major natural disaster I think the tasty food should be optional.

And there’s one exception: the spacious dwelling. This can actually be counterproductive. It may use more resources than necessary (in particular energy) and more than our planet can handle especially since the total population is still growing.

I would add one important item: a sustainable atmosphere preserving our climate and ecosystems.

downtide's avatar

All of these things would have to be paid for by somebody and if not the consumer then who? The government? There’s no government in the world that could support such an expenditure, and no-one would want to pay that much tax.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I suspect that eventually science and tecnology will give us the tools to insure that almost everyone has what they need and a goodly portion of what they want, and that it will all be available at such low cost as to be nominal. But this is some ways down the road, and how to make the transition to such a society/economy will be the rub. It won’t come easy, since those in power traditionally don’t like giving it up. It may necessitate a revolution of sorts.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

What if we just went the way of Star Trek and abolished currency altogether? Call me a commie if you want.

RANGIEBABY's avatar

@downtide You wouldn’t have to pay tax, they would just take your entire check. Everybody’s check. Everybody would have to work whether they were capable or not and turn their check over to the government. Hmm. let me see, what does that sound like?

TexasDude's avatar

@tragiclikebowie, I’m not going to call you a commie, but Star Trek is fantasy. We need currency in the real world. World economies are much to big to be based on bartering or “fair distribution.” The world needs a unit of exchange.

anartist's avatar

@Hobbes You are talking the world of the Eloi. And you remember what the Eloi owed the Morlocks.

Hobbes's avatar

@CaptainHarley – It is my understanding that the means of production currently exist in the world to give everyone all or most of the things I listed. At the very least, we have the means to feed, clothe, shelter and educate everyone in the world.

@RANGIEBABY – While I’m not sure, I seriously doubt it would be necessary to take everyone’s paycheck to provide all people with the things on that list. While that sort of thing has happened in Communist countries, I believe it was the result of corrupt rulers rather than true necessity.

@anartist – Well, the problem with the Eloi was that they relied on another group of people (the Morlocks) to do all the work necessary to provide for their existence. I’m not necessarily saying that all those things I listed should be given without expectation of any contribution, just that all people deserve access to them.

anartist's avatar

@Hobbes given by whom? If not themselves and not the morlocks and not a government that they worked to pay taxes to so the government could give them these things then by whom? And the communist argument won’t work here either: the harder workers, the higher paid workers are not going to share and share alike with the drones. why do you think communism failed?

Time2's avatar

I think people have soaked in a lot of capitalist arguments are missing the point. The question isn’t who would pay for these things, its who would do the work to create them. If, as you claim, we have the productivity to provide these things then I see no reason they shouldn’t be.

Yes these things cost money but there is no reason for them to cost as much as they do. Productivity has quadrupled since the fifties and yet prices have barley changed at all (well, they’ve gone up, but adjusting for inflation they haven’t changed). Considering how much money there is in this country, just concentrated in the hands of the upper 1%, we clearly do have the ability to create this much wealth. I don’t necessarily think these things should be free but they should at least be much cheaper then they are.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Hobbes At the very least, we have the means to feed, clothe, shelter and educate everyone in the world. We who? What exactly do you mean by the means?

Hobbes's avatar

“We” meaning the world population, but particularly those of us in “developed” nations. By “means” I mean “the means of production”. That is, the farms and factories and knowledge exist to provide these things, just not the will or the organization.

YARNLADY's avatar

So apparently you are postulating that instead of the current system of compensation for work, people would simply provide all the necessities of life to eachother out of the goodness of their hearts? Wow, what an interesting world that would be.

How hard would you be willing to work in the fields for free, picking vegetables all day so someone you never heard of could have free food?

Hobbes's avatar

Well, they might provide the necessities, but not the luxuries. Food and water and medicine, but not plasma TVs or mansions. It’s possible to have a system of compensation for work while still giving everyone free access to the basics of life.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Hobbes above you said humans should have free access to:

Space and materials for research and creative work
Communications and information technology

So you could be an actor (creative) while not working.

And you could have your plasma and internet connection (communicatios and it) for free also.

In the other question about the safety net though you rescind the plasma telly. At least you are getting a little bit more realistic.

Hobbes's avatar

The idea with communications was more that public hubs could be provided, though I accept that this isn’t a necessity nor is it practical for many places.

As far as materials for creative work, I agree that this is also not a necessity. The idea there was just that I think there should be public funding for the arts, since the goals of capitalism and the goals of artists are usually not concurrent.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Nothing is (or should be) free. You should have to work for what you get, including food, shelter, medical care, everything! That’s the trouble with young people today (says the crochety old lady). They think the world owes them a living.

Hobbes's avatar

I think there’s a fundamental difference between the things we need (air, water, food, shelter, medical care) and the things we want (pretty much everything else). Of course, the things we need still have to be produced, people still have to work to make them. But I don’t think anyone should be deprived of these basic needs for any reason. If you want a plasma TV or nice new fashionable clothes or whatever, you shouldn’t get that for free. But if you’re sick, you shoould get medicine and the care of a doctor, if you’re thirsty you should get water, if you’re hungry you should be fed.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@Hobbes I just don’t get the “entitlement” attitude. If people shouldn’t be deprived of basic needs, then who is the all-powerful force whose job it is to provide these things? The government? Food, water, housing, doctors and medicine don’t just fall from the sky, you know.

Hobbes's avatar

As I said, “The things we need still have to be produced, people still have to work to make them”. I understand they don’t just “fall from the sky”, and I agree that a sense of entitlement is not something we want to cultivate. However, I don’t think it’s entitled to want free access to basic needs. I also know that we have the knowledge and means to produce all of these things for everyone in the world, easily. However, we can’t afford to keep producing the enormous amount of other stuff we are currently making, but that’s another conversation.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I think our main point of disagreement is that you see the human race as a collective – I see it as “every man for himself.” Like someone here said, the world’s trashbins are full of defunct communal societies. They don’t work for many reasons; such as greed, corruption, laziness, power-hunger, and the list goes on. You can’t have a perfect society without perfect people.

Now suppose you did have a perfect society. Some economists have said that if all the world’s wealth was distributed evenly, each of us would have a crust of bread, a mud hut and 75 cents to our name. I don’t know about you, but I want to keep what I worked for, and I don’t care if the world’s wealth is unbalanced. But then, I have always said that I am NOT a humanitarian.

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