The government should pay to keep people from starving and with a roof over their head, as Americans without these things will be a drain on society anyway, and often more expensive than giving them assistance in the first place. After all, we’re the richest country in the world, and we should be able to provide a minimum level of survival basics for our people.
The idea here is “minimum”. That would be whatever it takes for survival, but still leave motivation to strive for a better standard of living.
So what should Americans have, at minimum? Here’s a starting list:
— Shelter that protects from the elements (both weather and criminal).
— Access to clean water.
— Food that provides a healthy diet one can live on (that means more than just ramen noodles and mac and cheese dinners).
— Heat in areas of the country that get cold, and air conditioning in areas of the country that get oppressively hot.
— Electricity (as that has gone from a luxury to a necessity over the past century).
— Indoor plumbing, unless living in a rural area where an outhouse is acceptable.
— Healthcare (and this includes mental healthcare and dental care).
Now, in addition to providing survival basics, it’s in our best interest to provide the basics one needs to find gainful employment and a way of supporting themselves. After all, one can’t climb the ladder of success when they can’t even reach the ladder. Such basics include:
— Education (which we already provide free of charge for K-12)
— A phone (doesn’t have to be fancy, but must enable people to make and receive calls, as this is necessary to obtain employment)
— Access to internet (a library or other facility within reach, or if that’s not feasible, a computer and internet provider — electronic communication is how jobs are advertised and applied for nowadays)
— Transportation (if public transportation is not available, a vehicle so the person can travel to job interviews, and eventually to a job)
Notice that neither list provides big screen TVs, fancy vacations, or other luxuries. Those things aren’t necessary for survival, and it’s reasonable to expect people to work for a standard of living higher than the minimum. But this provides that minimum for people. Some may be content with the bare minimum and choose not to work toward moving upward. It’s still in our best interests to provide the minimum to mitigate homelessness, crime, health problems that wind up being expensive unpaid bills in emergency rooms, and other drains on society. And it’s in our best interest to give people the starting tools they need to be productive citizens.