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A welfare service functions in a relatively straight-forward way.

  1. People contribute with money to a certain fund.
  2. An organisation is set up which administers the use of those funds for welfare purposes.

This two-step procedure doesn't need to involve a government. You are allowed to do it yourself. The only difference is that the organisation mentioned in step-two is now an actual NGO rather than a government department.

So why don't proponents of certain welfare services just perform the above two-step procedure and do it themselves?

For example, the Democratic Party certainly seems to have enough administrative ressources to ask for donations from their voters and set up an NGO which runs whatever welfare service their voters desire: healthcare, UBI, m/paternity leaves, etc. These services are of course only available to those who contribute to its fund. This process doesn't sound overtly difficult to me and there's no legal hindrance either. It would probably take a few years to set up and get it to run optimally, but comparing that to the slow development of usual politics, a few years of hard work doesn't sound like much in comparison.

So why don't they just do that? I understand that their ultimate goal is to achieve a national coverage of such welfare plans, but if you really believe so much in these welfare programs, surely a first step is to just initiate it on your own? That would also showcase to the rest of the population that it works and is a good thing.

EDIT: By "welfare services", I don't mean services that take from the rich and give to the poor. In that case, the problem is obvious: adverse selection. I am talking about services that promote welfare: healthcare, ubi, paternity leave, education, etc.

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    Private charities exist. So this question is really "why aren't private charities a sufficient replacement for all government welfare programs?", for which there are probably several good answers. – BradC Aug 14 '19 at 15:51
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    VTCd to close as off-topic because this is really a libertarian rant more than much of a question. – Stormblessed Aug 14 '19 at 17:20
  • What do you mean by "services that promote welfare"? Do you mean organizations that promote these policies and work to elect politicians that will implement them? Or are you talking about small-scale trials of programs? I'm still having trouble understanding how these NGOs funded by voluntary donations differ from either charities or political advocacy organizations. – divibisan Aug 14 '19 at 17:44
  • I agree with question, but it pushes a political agenda. Hence should be closed. It could be rephrased to make it legit. – Michael Aug 15 '19 at 2:52
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Welfare schemes distribute money from the rich to the poor. I'm from a middle-class family, with a degree etc. The chances are that I won't be dependent on welfare. Another person, from a poor background with few skills, is far more likely to need welfare. As a rational economic unit, there is no incentive for me to contribute to the welfare organisation, as I am unlikely ever to see a return on my money. Now there would be an incentive for the person who is likely to need welfare to join, but if the only people who join are those people who are likely to take more out than they put in, then the organisation will rapidly run out of money.

The only way a welfare organisation can work is if it can compel people to join. And the only organisations that can compel people are governments.

Add to this the benefits of scale and the advantage of low-interest loans that governments have, there is no way that a charity or private organisation can provide welfare coverage.

Charities do, of course, help around the edges. Foodbanks, homeless shelters, citizens advice, these work on the voluntary redistribution from the wealthy to the poor. They can't compare in size to the government.

And, of course, private insurance schemes do exist. However these are based on risk calculations, so poorer people would have to pay more, this would mean that welfare, based around an insurance model would not be available to those people who are most likely to need it.

The only way to make welfare available for people who are most likely to need it is a system of progressive taxes, whereby the most wealthy contribute most. And the only way to implement this is through the authority of a government.

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  • The problem with this answer is that it ignores that many liberals who aren't poor still do support welfare schemes. As an example, almost 90 % of Democrats support a universal health-care. Are you saying that 90 % of Dems are poor? Your answer is only good for pure wealth transfer schemes, where you take money from the rich and give it to the poor. But my question is specifically about things like UBI, health care, paternity leave. I mentioned these explicitly in my question. These are universal services, and not pure wealth transfers, and rich people are clearly supportive of them. – Dariusjones Aug 14 '19 at 16:51
  • Perhaps we are thinking of different things when we say "welfare". For me, "welfare" is any sort of social service with the GOAL of securing welfare for all. It's not just about handing out food stamps. – Dariusjones Aug 14 '19 at 16:52
  • @Dariusjones: What you forget is that those liberals support welfare schemes while knowing full well that they are not going to be paying the lion's share of the cost. Consider all the rhetoric about taxing the rich, and how income disparity is inherently evil, that you hear from them. – jamesqf Aug 14 '19 at 17:38
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    @Dariusjones People can have values that they think are more important than money. You don't have to be poor to think income inequality is dangerous, or to think that the government should help the less fortunate, or that important social rights should be guaranteed. Not everyone is only motivated by the profit motive – divibisan Aug 14 '19 at 17:51
  • @Dariusjones Also note that sure, each individual person could donate (let's say) 10% of their income to helping the poor. That means each poor person in the country gets $0.02/year. That is completely negligible and the person who donated has completely wasted their time. Such a system is only useful if everyone starts participating at once. – user253751 Aug 19 '19 at 1:39

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