General Question

JLeslie's avatar

Let's say we could take a state and have no Social Security, no Medicare/Medicaid, no highways made from taxes, no public schools, very low taxes. Personal Responsibility as some have said. Do you want to move there?

Asked by JLeslie (54555points) July 24th, 2009

During a discussion on the Obama health care plan, we veered off a little – surprise – and Critter1982 wrote that government should be there

1. To protect the country from others.
2. To define laws for its citizens so that your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness does not impede on my right.
3. To legislate and define laws so that companies do not restrict my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
4. Enforce laws that have been set forth

So it got me thinking…wouldn’t it be great to be able to really do the experiment. Let the people who believe show us how it can work. If you feel strongly that the government should not be providing social services like Social Security, health care, public schools, etc., would you be interested in moving to this state? If you want the social services provided by the government, are you interested to see what happens? If it’s successful?

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55 Answers

jca's avatar

so to teach the children we’d have to group together and hire teachers ourselves? i see that as prohibitively expensive.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I wouldn’t want to live there. I’d end up paying for people who wasted their money.

Ivan's avatar

Everyone should play Bioshock.

ragingloli's avatar

this is what would happen:
– streets/highways would deteriorate as no one would be willing to pay for its maintanance.
– bridges would deteriorate, become impassable and eventually collapse for the same reason.
– the electric network would eventually collapse.
– so would the water supply network
– and the sewage system
– as a result of the collapse of the infrastructure, cars would become useless, the car industry would collapse, millions would be job and homeless.
– as a result of the collapse of the infrastructure other large corporations that depend on shipping their products far away would collapse, the result would be a rise in local production, as a result, prices for all products will rise sharply.
– education, not just university, but basic education, would become a privilege of the rich, so would well paid jobs that require good education.
– because many people will not have access to well paid jobs anymore and the rise of prices, the overall living standard will drop.
– the lack of cheap healthcare will result in an increased sickness rate, overall life expectancy will drop, newborn mortality rate will rise.

as you can see, the result would be a third world country. so no, i would not want to live in such a country.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

That’s kind of where I’m headed in the next decade, so yes.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@JLeslie: I’ll be moving to a somewhat remote place, no local school, few paved roads and like most of my life, I’ll be on my own dime for medical care and support- I don’t see that changing for me.

rooeytoo's avatar

Sounds unrealistic to me. I don’t want to have to hire my own sewer expert, water expert, garbage guy, road builder, etc. etc. etc.

Mamradpivo's avatar

Probably not.

ubersiren's avatar

Yes, I’d like to give it a try.

@ragingloli : Maybe that would happen, but then that whole society would fail. Likely people who would willingly move to an essentially anarchist community would understand the responsibilities involved. If you weren’t ready for the responsibility, you probably wouldn’t go in the first place. Moving to such a place would mean do or die, and if you uprooted from a tax-paying, government-run society, you’d better put your efforts into your new life.

Zendo's avatar

It already exists. it is the State of Inebriation, near Cali.

Jeruba's avatar

If you weren’t planning to do subsistence farming and be wholly self-sufficient, you’d be wanting to do some buying and selling: buying tools, for instance, and selling produce, just to name two examples.

Would you want to be entirely on your own for the processes of commerce, with no law or system to fall back on to make sure you received just treatment? On what roads will you haul your goods to market, and what will you use for money? If barter, are you planning to haul your goods all over the place looking for a buyer, since you can’t take orders for delivery without a medium of exchange and you will have no laws or officers of the law to help you enforce contracts?

Who would you call if someone robbed you? Where would you turn for protection if you were attacked and your crop raided? Where will you find the help of medical and other professionals in a territory where they and their services have no protection and no regulation?

This sounds like the life of the wild and lawless frontier, great for TV shows and movies but maybe not the way civilized people want to live now. Shall everyone carry a gun?

Bluefreedom's avatar

Based on what @ragingloli and @Jeruba have stated in their posts above, I’m leaning toward not wanting to move there.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

So it’s survival of the financially fittest? Sounds like upper class savagery to me.

So “fuck the poor” is ok? I’m not down with that.

gailcalled's avatar

I have a good friend who lives on a rural unpaved road that the township considers a private road. There are four other families there. They are almost at WWIII trying to decide how much to pay for a snow plower and when to gravel and grade. I need a Sherman Tank now to drive on the rutted, pitted, corduroy surface.

One of the insurmountable issues is the length of the driveways off the road…10 feet longer than your neighbor’s and you have to cough up more money. These guys are out there with tapemeasures with millimeter units on them.

My friend lives in the middle; two houses before her and two behind. She is lumbered. Her next-door neighbor is no longer speaking to her.

ragingloli's avatar

Also we had such a society before. It was called the middle ages, where society was neatly grouped into a few aristocrats, a manageable amount of merchants and the large demographic of peasants.

dalepetrie's avatar

Anyone who’s read my posts knows I don’t even need to answer this question. I however suspect that what would happen to those who did choose that would be that they’d have to pretty much charge for everything…all roads would be toll roads, all schools would be private or homeschool, everyone would be expected to save enough money to retire (or they wouldn’t get to retire), and everyone would have to pay for their own insurance or their own doctor’s hospital visits. So, we set up this game board, everyone has a good job and they can all afford all these things. Now, roll the dice. Owners of the companies that provide all the jobs realize they can streamline with new technologies, so people start to lose their jobs. There is no unemployment, so these people start to lose their houses, and their health care if it’s employer subsidized. Basically unless they have family to live with, they end up homeless and on the street, begging unless they can find a new job. Well, since the total number of jobs has gone down, not everyone can get one, so they have to beg. But it doesn’t work out that well because every citizen believes in personal responsibility. Now these people can’t afford to drive anywhere to look for work, and they can’t even send their kids to school, so even if they manage to survive somehow, say by shooting squirrels and growing turnips for subsistence, they become a bunch of ignorant rednecks. And then a few people get really sick, and because they have insurance, the health care industry takes a hit, so they raise their rates, and start to deny coverage to people. Some more employers end up not being able to afford to insure people and really sick people basically can’t afford to go to the doctor…or if they do go, then they end up with a bill they can’t pay, they end up declaring bankruptcy. But because there’s no aid for this, it’s seen by society as a failure to live up to one’s personal responsibility…who cares if you didn’t see the cancer coming. More people die/starve/suffer. Schools start to suffer because of all the people who have to start homeschooling because they can’t afford private school, some schools shut down, making it harder for kids to get in, and at the same time making it more expensive and costing more, so more people drop out of the system and an education becomes a privilege, not a right. People of course still try to hang onto their jobs, but it’s harder because fewer and fewer people have money to buy the products and services the businesses create, so businesses have to lay off more and more people to compensate. And of course, all these people who were planning to save for retirement, end up, if they’re lucky enough to make it to retirement age, having spent every penny they’ve saved just to survive, and if they can find any measly job, even if they’re 80 years old, they’ll take it because they’ll starve otherwise.

And none of these fuckers will get a single piece of mail, none of them will have a library to go to in order to do research about jobs or check the internet when their service gets turned off. I would LOVE to see someone create this right wing society and make every far right winger who thinks its a good idea move there…within 40 years there wouldn’t be a single damn one of them left to fuck it up for the rest of us.

augustlan's avatar

No. Fucking. Way. If others want to try it, I’m all for them being able to do so. First though, they’ll have to go to war and seize some land for their experiment.

Jeruba's avatar

Great punch line, @dalepetrie. Great answer overall. No lorem ipsum about it.

Also GQ for the asker.

DREW_R's avatar

I’d go in a NY minute.

jca's avatar

no finger pointing, but for anyone who says they’d want to go, can you give some reasons as to why? (since it seems the deck is stacked against it being a successful society?)

JLeslie's avatar

I think the theory is that private business would create all the things we/they need. Not that you would be living a rural life with everything broken down, but an even better life with everythig you need. It seems the Republicans around me, where I live, believe capitalism and free enterprise is better at doing everything compared to the government. I have never met people who HATE taxes and gov’t like here. There is no state income tax where I live, AND they get disporportionately more from the federal gov’t then they pay in ironically. So I am trying to figure out how these people really picture their world of no tax? I mean I am seriously interested, not trying to convince them otherwise. Have they really thought it through and how does it really happen?

It seems to me to maintain the interstates and other roads you would have to have toll roads as mentioned above, and you will have better competition among doctors, but probably not advanced medical treatment. Maybe the example in the question is too extreme? Maybe these people around me actually are willing to pay taxes for some services, but not others? I don’t feel like they think it through.

I can see if you want to live a rural life you could get along for a long time without the government, and maybe you would resent paying taxes on your land and income, when you barely partake in goverment serivces, but I wondered if it is true we could have the cities, medical care, and conveniences we enjoy at a lower cost to us all through free enterprise.

Maybe I did not ask the question well, or maybe there are just too few people in our collective who think this way to explain their point-of view.

jca's avatar

in addition to what dalepetrie said, (unless he did say it and i missed it) what about people who cannot work, due to being mentally ill, intellectually challenged, or old? who would take care of them? I am not totally left wing, because i am aware that there are people now who take advantage of these programs that the government has, and may not be unable to work, but even if 50% or 75A% were totally in need of Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, Disability, then how would they live? how would someone who is a low wage earner pay for private insurance?

critter1982's avatar

@ragingloli: Regarding your comments.

this is what would happen:
– streets/highways would deteriorate as no one would be willing to pay for its maintanance. Streets and highways would be subsidized by the government. The private sector would bid for each job. This would lower cost to the taxpayers and would allow for roads and bridges to be maintained quickly and efficiently. Since we have state workers on our roads they have no reason to work efficiently or quickly costing you and myself tons of money to have 2 guys leaning on a shovel while one guy digs
– bridges would deteriorate, become impassable and eventually collapse for the same reason.
Same answer as above
– the electric network would eventually collapse.
How would this be different than it already is? Our electric is not a government run program. Electric companies are out htere to make a profit and are publicly traded companies
– so would the water supply network
Again, our water supply is not a government run program. You pay money to water companies they are not funded by government taxes so they also make a profit
– and the sewage system
Again, sewage treatment is not a government run program. You pay money for sewage not taxes.
– as a result of the collapse of the infrastructure, cars would become useless, the car industry would collapse, millions would be job and homeless.
So because roads and bridges are getting fixed more quickly and more efficiently because there is finally competition, cars will likely need less maintenance as the roads you drive on will be better, improving the car industry. Again the auto industry is already privately owned (well used to be) so I’m not seeing much of a difference here either.
– as a result of the collapse of the infrastructure other large corporations that depend on shipping their products far away would collapse, the result would be a rise in local production, as a result, prices for all products will rise sharply.
With less government intervention companies would have to pay less taxes reducing the cost of goods sold to the people. Our infrastructure at this point did not collapse again as it is subsidized by the government and our taxes, it would just be more efficiently run.
– education, not just university, but basic education, would become a privilege of the rich, so would well paid jobs that require good education.
University education is a privilege not a right. Basic education can come in many forms. Our current way of K-12 education is obviously not working. We pass kids who fail, literally. We are currently ranked 17th on the list of national IQ, yet we remain a world power, but probably not for long. Holland on the other hand educates 70% of their primary and secondary kids in private independant schools. They happen to be 5th on the list of national IQ. Similar to Japan but slightly different who ranks 2nd on the IQ list. Japan has most students in public primary school and most students study at private schools for their upper secondary education. People tend to care more when they have to pay for things. Students these days in high school could give 2 shits about what they learn or couldn’t care less if they learned anything at all. The other alternative is home schooling. Now that men can make more since not all of their money is going to taxes, the woman (or vice versa I don’t want any feminists pissed at me) can stay at home at home school the child.
– because many people will not have access to well paid jobs anymore and the rise of prices, the overall living standard will drop.
Jobs will pay the same, I’m not so sure why well paid jobs will disappear? All of the well paying jobs that currently exist are in the private sector already. Prices will likely drop because taxes are cheaper
– the lack of cheap healthcare will result in an increased sickness rate, overall life expectancy will drop, newborn mortality rate will rise.
People will have more money because less taxes, they will be brought up understanding how to balance a budget unlike in today’s society because the parents will take initiative to teach this to their children. Societal debt will decrease because people will buy what they can afford including health care.

as you can see, the result would be a third world country. so no, i would not want to live in such a country.

The way our government is racking up debt this country is already headed towards it’s doom day. The governments overall solution to everything is spend more money. Credit card companies mismanaged their portfolio, spend more money. Banks mismanaged their portfolio, spend more money. Auto companies didn’t make efficient cars reducing their sales, let’s spend more money. There’s a dictator in Iraq who claims to have WMD, let’s spend $700 billion. Oh medicare isn’t working lets spend $800 billion over ten years for entitlements. Health care’s not working lets spend $634 billion on a downpayment for health care reform. And in case anybody heren’t doesn’t know the projected govt spending in 2009 is 1.75 to 1.85 trillion dollars. I’d love to live in a place with less government intervention. Sounds almost like heaven to me.

critter1982's avatar

@Jeruba: Regarding your comments:

Would you want to be entirely on your own for the processes of commerce, with no law or system to fall back on to make sure you received just treatment? On what roads will you haul your goods to market, and what will you use for money? If barter, are you planning to haul your goods all over the place looking for a buyer, since you can’t take orders for delivery without a medium of exchange and you will have no laws or officers of the law to help you enforce contracts?

This would be the main reason for the government (see 1–4 above in the question). The government would still have laws to protect you as a consumer and as a provider. Money would still exist as an easy way to trade goods. Roads would be subsidized by the government and the government would still have a police force.

Who would you call if someone robbed you? Where would you turn for protection if you were attacked and your crop raided? Where will you find the help of medical and other professionals in a territory where they and their services have no protection and no regulation?

The government still exists for protection from INTERNAL and external forces. They also still exist to protect consumers and providers

This sounds like the life of the wild and lawless frontier, great for TV shows and movies but maybe not the way civilized people want to live now. Shall everyone carry a gun?

Everyone should carry a gun but only if its a 1933 .38/44 Outdoorsman Smith and Wesson

critter1982's avatar

@dalepetrie:

all roads would be toll roads, all schools would be private or homeschool, everyone would be expected to save enough money to retire (or they wouldn’t get to retire), and everyone would have to pay for their own insurance or their own doctor’s hospital visits.

Roads would not be tolled. Schools would be private and/or homeschooled. Everyone would be expected to provide for themselves and their families including yes retirement, big screen televisions if necessary, food, water, shelter, health insurance, and even car insurance. There would be no sorry Mr. Smith you make more than Mr. Davis so we are going to take what you spent your whole life working towards and give it to Mr. Davis because well he just doesn’t make as much as you. We don’t want Mr. Davis feeling bad for himself do we? It should be my right to work for what I want and not to have that taken from me. It should be your right to work for what you want and not have that taken from you. We are put on this earth with a right to action, not reward.

ragingloli's avatar

@critter1982
ops scenario prohibits any funding for roads and highways, so there would be no subsidising

critter1982's avatar

@JLeslie:

So I am trying to figure out how these people really picture their world of no tax?

The idea is not 0 tax. The idea is less tax. In my opinion I haven’t seen the government do anything that well that would force me to believe and have faith that a government solution is better than a private sector one. Their solution again, to everything is to spend more and more money. For example during the “credit freeze” of this year people were complaining that credit companies were only lending to people with good credit and good collateral. What is wrong with that? The government decided it wasn’t good enough and threw a bunch of money at it. I think everyone except for anarchists of course understand a necessity for government and government run programs. At some point though the government begins to take too much control. I think we are at that point where our government has taken too much control. There’s a point where socialist programs impede on our rights as Americans. I look at some of the socialist countries like China, North Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and I see no reason to want to live in those places. So again the idea is not 0 tax it is just less tax.

critter1982's avatar

@ragingroli:

Her scenario was based strictly on a comment from myself, so I added to my list of comments. I would absolutely agree that without roads and bridges our infrastructure would simply fall apart.

JLeslie's avatar

@critter1982 I think you had said that you were ok with the fire department being run by the government. Why is it ok to pool money to save a house, but not to care for someoe body? I guess you could argue the fire could spread and burn down a whole bunch of other houses. But consider this: what about the mentally ill and the disabled, how are you going to care for them if they have no family to help?

As far as school, I am very pro homeschooling, and private scools are fine too, but I think that public education is one of the most important things a country can have, even if it is somewhat broken, the goal should be to improve it, not do away with it. If there was no public schooling many would go without education, this is catastrophic for society. I would also argue that there are cultural and societal problems that are affecting out students scores and aptitude than the school system itself. I do want the school system to have an overhaul, get rid of tenure, not pass kids who do poorly, etc. A personal story: my father grew up very poor. He did not read until 3rd grade. He did do well in Jr high and very well in High School, was in a special program that gets you through school faster. He went to college for free, because Hunter Colege in NY at the time was free, I don’t know how it is now. End of the story is he has a PhD in sociology from Wharton. If free public school and college had not been available, he would not have been successful, or would have had a much harder, longer road getting anywhere.

critter1982's avatar

@JLeslie:

I don’t think the fire dept should be run by the government. I think this should be part of your home insurance. Part of the insurance you pay on your house should go to the fire department.

I’m not sure what would happen with the mentally ill and disabled. Obviously something has to be done as it would be inhumane to not have somebody help with their necessities. In some cases it could be that some of the disabled could work and help pay for their issues. I mean somebody who can’t walk would certainly be able to answer phones. Somebody who couldn’t answer phones would probably be able to do something with their hands. My complaint about government intervention and government run programs does not include the mentally ill and disabled without family to help. I think that is probably a very minor percentage. My issue is with those people who can work and find ways around the system, or just choose not to work. The mind set of American needs a complete overhaul. There are absolutely people out there that need help and American’s should be willing to help and provide for those people. But there are also a lot of people out there that think they deserve everything. Just a quick story about where I work. I work at a technology company and I am involved with design. I had a brand new intern come in and after 2 weeks set up a meeting with the director of America’s engineering to sit down and discuss strategy. This kid was fresh out of college and had never worked a day in his life until now, what the hell does he know about strategy. This made me look incredibly bad, but he thought it was his right to go talk with the director of America’s about something he knew very little about. I see a lot of young professionals coming up thinking they will be management in 5 years and CEO in 10. Everyone seems to feel so entitled anymore and unwilling to work for what they want.

JLeslie's avatar

@critter1982 I agree, many American’s need an “overhaul.” Some of this entitlement is government, but some is big corporations also, in my opinion. My definition of greed, which I am sure is not the formal one, is crossing a line, where you are making an outrageous amount of money, because you can, and are not treating employees and consumers as you would want to be treated. The auto dealers were making hand over fist, so the union said, why should management make all the high dollars, we should too. How about, everyone should make a reasonable amount and maybe lower the price for the consumer too. If business regulated themselves with some sort of integrity it would help society also, in the same way you talk about people workign when they can and not work the system.

I think if we talked long enough there is actually a lot we would agree on, health care seems to be a very divisive issue right now along this theme though.

By the way, my father got his PhD from scholarships, so I guess that comes from charging the people who can afford to go to Penn a lot of extra dollars, and his father was paranoid schizophrenic, but did work his whole life until he retired. They were very poor, and the neighborhood was not great, but it was not extremely dangerous. Now poor neighborhoods in the city have bullets flying, gangs, and horrible drug problems more than before. I think a lot of your complaints is more than just taxes and money, there is a societal problem, as I mentioned above, that must be addressed.

Rsam's avatar

easy answer: no.

see the 19th century in America—- it kinda sucked social stability-wise

dalepetrie's avatar

Just curious still what happens when the companies start to lay people off and there are more workers than jobs and people can’t afford all these things they have to pay for themselves, and as such are unable to lift themselves out of poverty? The ideal of the Great Society put into place by FDR (which worked EXTREMELY well for a VERY long time until the Republicans eviscerated the social safety net via Nixon and Reagan) is not about a handout, but a handup. Some times structural forces keep determined, intelligent, capable people from success.

If you’re not into regulating health care, how do you keep the companies from dropping the sickest individuals to keep the bottom line up? And if they have no safety net when they’re dropped, what happens to them. What happens to the person who meant well, but whose investments didn’t perform well enough over time for him to retire?

We NEED a strong social safety net…NOT to give a free ride to lazy people (which though it does happen is FAR more rare than Conservatives want people to believe, because after all, if most of them looked at this as a human justice issue rather than a be afraid of someone who’s trying to take advantage of you issue, they’d NEVER win elections).

And bottom line, all one needs to do is look at the facts. When our social safety net was strongest, we had a huge middle class. Some people STILL slipped through the cracks, but it wasn’t a sixth of the population living beneath the poverty line. And there were still PLENTY of rich people. But almost all Americans could get by, they could go to the doctor when they were sick, they could retire when they got old, they didn’t have to worry if they became injured or ill. Today, the middle class is shrinking, the people who are rich aren’t just wealthy, but are obscenely weatlhy, and the numbers under the poverty line are approaching parity with the middle class. This all transpired after Reagan came in and decided that prosperity should trickle down, not flow up. Nixon made some inroads here, but his hands were tied by Vietnam to a degree, Reagan was the dream of those with the minimal tax, minimal government ideal, and he brought the top marginal rates down by nearly two thirds…and that’s when poverty, gangs, homelessness, etc. all started to get out of control. But people don’t learn their lessons, they want to push further and further and further in this direction. And yes, if it works out for you, I’m sure you’d like it…but you’re lucky if it does. It is however a myopic world view…it discounts the big picture, it discounts everyone else…it says everyone for himself and basically what that ignores is that it’s only by good fortune that YOU are not the OTHER GUY.

Nially_Bob's avatar

No. I have never been fond of the idea of moving anywhere which contains a population who place great value on a small collection of ideals and the place illustrated by this question would likely tempt this particular type of population. With this clearly stated, I admit that if the area in which such was conducted were kept relatively small I believe the society living therein would be reasonably stable and functional though somewhat expensive to live within.

ubersiren's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic : “Fuck the poor” couldn’t be how it would have to work. It wouldn’t be in the community’s best interest to do that. You can’t reject the bottom rung of people or your community would inevitably collapse. BUT, if there’s some able-bodied chode who repeatedly keeps shirking his duty to contribute to society, then he may not get help from the rest of the community. If there’s someone who can’t work, that’s a different story. A truly disabled/ sick person would be looked after for the ultimate reason that is, once again, the best interest of the community. That person could be a relative of the town doctor, or, again, if you keep knocking off the bottom tier, you’re eventually going to crumble.

@jca : I’d like to go because I’d have control over where my money is spent and over the life choices to be made for me and my family.

Everyone, there are anarchist communities that have existed successfully, and even some alive and well today. Whiteway Colony is the best example I’ve found of this- they’ve been a successful community since the late 1800s. There’s also Freetown Christiana, whose principles I don’t agree with- they basically took over some old military base, instead of fighting for their own land. This brings me to my next point. You all who are annoyed and upset by we who wish for such a life need not worry. I live in the US, and it is absolutely impossible for me to stay in my homeland, with my friends, family, and culture, and live government free. All land is owned by the government, and there would be no way I could get away with not paying taxes. I would still be owned by them even in the wiles of Alaska. I’d constantly be living in fear of being caught and arrested.
Again, someone who would want to go to such a community would understand these basic requirements (not laws) necessary to remain there, so there’s a good chance they’d succeed for some time. Until some bigger nation invaded, anyway. :)

JLeslie's avatar

@critter1982 I am pretty sure my utility company is government run MLGW in Shelby County, TN, literally I get one bill for gas, electric, water, and they add on $40 a month for fire service. In FL we did have a private electric company. So I think that varies around the country, and might be why some people think it is private, rather always private, and some might think utility is public.

JLeslie's avatar

By the way, in my question I was not saying anyone had to fight for land, this is a theoretical state, we are willingly giving up the land for those who want to try the experiment.

Ivan's avatar

@benjaminlevi

The game is about a city where someone tried to create a society in which there is essentially no government support for anything. People are free to do whatever they want without limitations from the government. At the same time, the government does not provide its citizens with any services whatsoever. The government effectively doesn’t exist. After a couple of decades, the place is a rundown nightmare filled with the psychotic and mutated remnants of the population.

benjaminlevi's avatar

@Ivan That sounds pretty awesome

Ivan's avatar

@benjaminlevi

It is awesome, and it also has one of the coolest launch trailers ever.

benjaminlevi's avatar

@Ivan So thats what it looks like to be murdered by robots… hehe

Ivan's avatar

Heh, not that we need to take this thread even further off topic, but it was actually just a dude wearing a big dive suit.

jca's avatar

there was an article that somewhat touched on this topic – a few years ago in the new york times magazine – it was called “living off the grid.” it was about people who lived in the woods (ted kozinsky style) in cabins, and did not pay for electricity, so they had no electricity, plumbing, etc. they lived very simply – but i don’t think they were a community, it was random people or families who lived isolated in the deep woods. i think a lot of them lived in idaho.

JLeslie's avatar

@ica I had not heard of that. I do have a girlfriend who “homesteads” as she calls it, or kind of halfway homesteads right now. She lives in MI on about an acre. They have apple trees and grow veggies and friuts in their garden in the summer. Her husband hunts deer on or near their property. But they do still go to the supermarket for some things, and they are on the electrical grid, but they want to be off. I am pretty sure they are well water though, not sure about septic/sewer. She home schools her kids, but she is not isolated, there are neighbors nearby and they are just an hour from Ann Arbor, where her husband works. I would love to be off the electrical grid, I want solor power.

Meanwhile, in my original question I was not thinking change of lifestyle, more that it seems people who don’t want government interference believe that they can have all of the conveniences and infrastructure but better. They feel strongly private enterprise would be more efficient and more fairly priced through competition.

Zuma's avatar

Before you rush headlong into a society where everybody fends for himself, you have to take into account that all societies are dynamic systems. They have make-break points above which social investments cause the population to grow, allowing the society to become self-sustaining, and below which the population becomes susceptible to disease, the population declines and the society collapses.

According to Epidemiological Transition Theory there are four main variables in these dynamic processes: 1) the health status of the population, 2) population growth, 3) population longevity, and 4) economic investment. These four variable are all interacting and define various “tipping” points which cause the society to sustain itself, flourish, or collapse.

Economic growth has a direct impact on the health and longevity of a population through increasing levels of income, consumption and health investments. In addition, there is a reverse mechanism through which the health status of a population affects longevity or life expectancy, which, in turn effects economic growth and further increase longevity, which, in turn, induces agents to spend more on capital investments, which in turn affects economic growth.

Mortality is a fundamental factor in population dynamics and at a certain “tipping point” there is an epidemiological transition represents a long term shift in mortality from a regime of mostly infectious diseases to a regime of mostly degenerative and man-made diseases. This transition is shown to favor the young over the old and females over males and to be closely associated with rising standards of living and improved nutrition in the basic patterns of the 19th Century, and improved medical and health practices in the 20th Century.

The theory predicts three basic models:

The Classical Model (England, most Western European countries). The mortality pattern follows three stages.

A pre-industrial age of pestilence and famine generates a cyclical population growth with frequent peaks in mortality. This is followed by an intermediate stage of receding pandemics in the middle or later part of the 19th Century giving way to a gradual mortality decline. And a final stage of degenerative and man made diseases in the 20th Century corresponds to more precipitous declines in mortality.

Economic factors (improvements in standards of living and in nutrition in the 19th Century) were the primary determinants of the classical transition, but were later augmented in the 20th Century by sanitary improvements, followed by medical and public health progress. The final stage closely parallels the demographic transitions of the Industrial Revolution, which was followed by a population explosion and sustained economic growth.

The Accelerated Model (Japan). The transition follows a similar patter as the Classical Model, but the changes in mortality occurred at a later stage of development and were more rapid. This corresponds to the endogenous transition taking place during the modern growth regime.

The Delayed Model (most countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia). The substantial decreases in mortality in these economies are very recent. Public health measures have been a major component of a generally imported medical package that pulled mortality down while keeping fertility high, thus generating a population explosion.

When you propose going back to lower levels of economic investment, what you are essentially doing is running the Classical process in reverse. At some unforeseeable point, you will reach a tipping point and your society will collapse and you will end up back in the state described by the Delayed model. Everybody loses big time.

Whenever you start looking for excuses for social disinvestment, i.e., “I don’t want to fund free riders or people I don’t like.” You inevitably generate class conflict between the people who get the benefits of the society and those who don’t. This too can reach a tipping point where people want to make wholesale disinvestments in the “other” guy’s benefits until nobody wants to contribute anything in the way of social economic investment. Schools decline, technology stagnates, infrastructure falls apart, people become stressed and prone to disease, or they are subjugated by their more robust neighbors and have to put up with the inequitable bargains that tend to follow a decline in power. A more egalitarian society is a less conflict ridden society, and more productive and wealthy.

Sources

josie's avatar

Why not? I say the same risk of inconvenience, misfortune, disappoint, failure etc. exist in both ways of doing social business. So why not be free to choose?

GracieT's avatar

@dalepetrie, thank you for eloquently pointing out why Regan was not (although many people seem to think he was!) one of our greatest presidents.

Jeruba's avatar

Belatedly, I’d like to compliment @Zuma‘s very interesting answer, one that’s worth rereading at this uncertain moment in U.S. economics and politics, here at the tail end of 2012.

I’d also like to commend @JLeslie for an engaging and original question that deserved more attention than it got in the first place.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba Thanks!

I wish Zuma was still around. He had some amazing answers.

Jeruba's avatar

I agree. There are many jellies I miss who used to give answers full of knowledge and thought and whom I’d love to see back here. Zuma’s account is still active, at least.

JLeslie's avatar

At the bottom of this Q he says he has three blogs. I didn’t check to see if they are still active.

El_Cadejo's avatar

none of them are still active

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