Chili wrote:National defense and police are examples of completely necessary services. So is heath care.
How necessary a service may be has no bearing on whether or not it is a public good "which can only be provided collectively," which was the claim addressed.
If someone fails to save for heath care, or decides to go without e.g. vaccinations, the result could be catastrophic for a whole society.
Well, I suppose it could
be, in some imaginary disaster scenario. But in the real world the consequences are not nearly so grave, as evidenced by the fact that tens of thousands, if not millions, of people do exactly that every day. So far society has escaped the catastrophe you envision.
-- Updated October 15th, 2017, 9:28 am to add the following --
LuckyR wrote:Anyone with any empathy would come up with a way to prevent these predictable catastrophies, say by coming up with insurance or social security.
"Catastrophies"? A bit of hyperbole there, don't you think?
There are ways to prevent at least some such "catastrophies" --- you can educate people regarding the consequences of failing to provide for those needs, and you can contribute to a charity to aid those who didn't get the message.
Empathy is not a philosophically sound basis for public policies, for two reasons. First, it varies from person to person, both with respect to its strength and the persons for whom it is felt. Secondly, it is an emotional reaction (like hate and anger), and hence, non-rational.
-- Updated October 15th, 2017, 11:12 am to add the following --
Londoner wrote:For example, we are discussing the nature of 'insurance'; the fact we are having a discussion is evidence that everyone does not see insurance the same way. Since everyone does not see it the same way then we cannot reduce it to a simple binary proposition.
Well, in that case what is needed is a definition of "insurance." I'm using the term as it is understood in economics, and by actuaries. I.e., a pooling of calculable risks, with each member of the pool paying a premium proportionate to the risk he adds to the pool. To what different understanding do you refer?
Again, the question is: Who pays for it?
Those who can afford it. We agree that it is good for everyone if there is some sort of universal health service.
Well, no, we have not agreed that it is "good for everyone if there is some sort of universal health service," if you mean by a "universal health service" one which is available to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Such a service will entail that Alfie will be forced to pay for Bruno's health care, which will be good for Bruno, but certainly not for Alfie.
But if some people can't afford to pay, but we still want them treated, then the people who can afford it will have to pay for them.
That is a glaring non sequitur
. It involves the 4-term fallacy: the "we" in the antecedent clause is not equivalent to the "people who can pay for it" in the consequent clause. The correct conclusion would be, "We who want them treated must pay for it." The "people who can pay for it" may or may not want them treated (at their expense).
Yes, the employee does need those things, so of course those needs do determine wages.
Sorry, but per accepted economic theory production costs do not determine prices. Worker needs are worker production costs, and their wages are the price of labor. Like all prices they are determined solely by the market --- what buyers have proved willing to pay for them. If a worker's services are only worth $10/hour on the market, then that is all he will be paid, regardless of his needs.
For example, in my city accommodation costs are high. If you want to employ somebody and need them to live near you, then you have to pay them enough to cover their accommodation costs. It is no good just saying the employee must 'figure out' a way round it, they can't. If the employer wants to employ them then the employer must accept that this is a cost of doing business. They will either be in a business in which they can pass on those costs to their customers, or they will have to find another way of making a living.
The market is still determining wages in that scenario. The cost of housing will affect the availability of labor. Employers will offer higher wages until an adequate supply of labor is secured --- or, in many cases, move their operations to China, where labor costs and government overhead will be lower.
But we do not have simple pairs of agents. For example, if you use a public road, who is the other agent? And how would we maintain a road network if I only paid according to how valuable I considered a particular journey? Rather, I value the existence of the road network as a whole, even the bits I will never use myself, because they are used by others with whom I have an economic relationship, and these others have an economic relationship with a wider circle....And of course the road network does not stand alone either; it needs police and courts and planning authorities and academics... There is no product or service in which there is only a simple two-party transaction.
Roads, police, courts are public goods (as earlier defined). Schools ("academics") are private goods. "Planning authorities" are not marketable goods at all (no one would freely pay for them). Public goods, as mentioned, cannot be provided privately. For all private goods, there are one-to-one dependencies between consumers of that good and the producers of it. I have a dependency relationship with the crew who mow my lawn. I have no dependency relationship with the dealer from whom my neighbor bought his car. If that dealer's business folded tomorrow my life would not be affected in the slightest way.
Roads are an interesting case. In the US state and federal highways are primarily funded through fuel taxes, plus for trucks, the weight of the loaded vehicle. Thus drivers pay roughly in proportion to the extent that they use and contribute wear and tea on the roads. City streets are paid for primarily through property taxes, roughly in proportion to the access benefit each property owner receives from the street (as measured by front footage).
And the question certainly does have something to do with morality. It raises the basic moral question underlying all theories of government: For what purposes, and under what circumstances, may one moral agent exert force against another moral agent?
I do not see why those things are connected. I can decide it is a good idea to have a road network, and that building one must be a collective undertaking, on purely pragmatic grounds. Just as I can calculate that providing some sort of health care for the poorer members of society is a good idea, even if I have no empathy with them as people.
The connection is obvious. Your "good idea" and pragmatic approach requires the use of force. Hence the moral issue is raised. Your answer to the moral question seems to be, "A moral agent may force other moral agents to support whatever he deems to be a good idea."
I do not think there is any real distinction. Everyone could be their own policeman, but it would be inconvenient and inefficient.
No, they can't. It would be worse than inconvenient and inefficient; it would be chaotic and result in many injustices.
In a crowded city, collective transportation systems work better than cars.
No, they don't (in most crowded cities). As evidenced by the fact that 90% of commuters (on average across US cities) prefer their cars. Bicycling and public transit apparently does not work better for them.