Some people think that the world — or more specifically the United States Government — owes them a living. These people believe that the society owes them a house, a job, health insurance, food, a car, a pension, a vacation, and much more. But what are Americans really entitled to have? They are entitled to Constitutional protections such the right to life, liberty, and property. That’s all.
Recently, at a meeting of the Orinda City Council, a retired nurse said that because she worked overseas at low pay for many years, she is now entitled to live in a low-cost apartment in Orinda. It was her decision to work overseas. Why is she entitled to live in Orinda? Maybe she is also entitled to live in Beverly Hills or Carmel. Maybe society also owes her a private jet plane.
Society owes people nothing. But the State of California is mandating that housing for low-income people must be built in Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, and other Bay Area communities.
What are the consequences of building, for low-income people, a huge government-funded apartment complex in Contra Costa County that no one wants to inhabit? One consequence would be that taxpayers’ money was wasted.
These government-inspired housing projects are wrong. Truly needy people should be helped by charity. However, there is justification for some government assistance if charities are unable or unwilling to help.
The best way to build housing for the needy is to give these people enough money to permit them to live where they want.
And there is another way to build such housing. Give real estate developers a special tax break for building housing for the needy. For example, the government could tell a developer that he would not have to pay income tax for a certain number of years if he built homes for the needy.
Overall, the world does not owe people a living. But, for basic needs like housing and food, some charitable or governmental relief might be appropriate.