Here’s a simple explanation for why we need universal social programs
Earlier last year, U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to make a strong case for universal social programs. She boils it down into five main points.
1. Universal public systems are designed to benefit EVERYBODY! Everyone contributes & everyone enjoys. We don’t ban the rich from public schools, firefighters, or libraries bc they are public goods.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 29, 2019
2. Universal systems that benefit everyone are stronger bc everyone’s invested!
Right off the bat, she dispels the usual right-wing talking point that rich people will take advantage of these programs by explaining these problems work best when they are “designed to benefit everyone.” When social programs are made like this, everyone has a vested interest in keeping them strong. Rich and poor alike, we all want our firefighters and healthcare to be in good shape.
3. When you start carving people out & adding asterisks to who can benefit from goods that should be available to all, cracks in the system develop.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 29, 2019
4. Many children of the elite want to go to private, Ivyesque schools anyway, which aren’t covered by tuition-free public college!
Once we start making exceptions, that is precisely when our universal social programs start to fail. Look around the world to countries that have adopted mixed (private-public) healthcare systems. You’ll see that universal and public healthcare starts to suffer as soon as private options are introduced.
5. Lastly, and I can’t believe we have to remind people of this, but it’s GOOD to have classrooms (from pre-k through college!) to be socioeconomically integrated.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 29, 2019
Having students from different incomes & backgrounds in the same classroom is good for society & economic mobility.
Ocasio-Cortez’s final point is, perhaps, the most important. Having people of mixed socio-economic backgrounds using the same programs is vital for our communities. What we don’t want is a society where different classes of people live in entire isolation of each other.
Unfortunately, this is something that is increasingly a reality. Universal social programs can act as a remedy. They promote a sense of community between us, build cohesion and push us to think in terms of what is best for the common good of us all.