Basic Necessities are Rights

By Ted Chang  / 

Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 8

It is interesting that Eugene Liu pointed out that some western European nations are modeled on the the welfare state (Letters, Aug. 3, page 8), yet failed to mention that these same states also have democratic systems. Social groups advocating that the government should tell you where and how to live? When to see a doctor? How to work and what to learn?

Either Liu has a very narrow interpretation of what these social groups work for, or he is nothing but a liar. It amazes me that he could suggest that under a social democratic system, a person is likely to get shot by the police for no reason, citizens aren't allowed to criticize the leader of their country, and the government tells its people what they should do in order to pursue happiness.

Does he truly think that these are the conditions the Germans and British are living under? Are Canadians -- who aren't western European, but have a similar welfare state system -- told by the government what cars they should purchase? Is he not aware of the US' massive social problems?

It is possible to have a country with a democratic and capitalist system, and to have a social safety net at the same time. In case Liu doesn't know, shelter, health care, basic education and employment are basic necessities of life. So tell me, why shouldn't basic necessities be considered rights, and not just privileges?

Ted Chang