Social services and market economy

Majority of people, at least in Europe, would agree on the fact that some services, commonly called “social services” (*) such as health care, should be given free of charge or at a regulated price to all the citizens. The problem arises when we discuss more in detail about the definition of social services and which services have to be included.

  1. The first question is then to decide whose services have to be included in the category of “social services”.
  2. The second question is relevant to whom should supply those services:
    1. A first point of view, that is normally considered a left-wing opinion, is that such services should be given by the government, either directly or through a government owned organization, excluding as much as possible private owned corporation, either profit oriented or no-profit. According to this point of view, privates already aim at the maximum profit, therefore a government organization is the    only way that can actually assure the service to everyone.
    2. A second point of view, that is normally considered a right-wing opinion, is that private can do it better and at lower cost, since such services are beyond the scope of the government, whose task should only be to control and supervise in order to guarantee their quality and availability.
  3. The third question is relevant to the costs and by whom they have to be paid
    1. By the government, directly or through a proper authority
    2. By the user, albeit at a regulated price, directly to the service supplier
    3. By the government, that pays the regulated price to the service supplier
    4. In part by the government and in part by the user 

The discussion shall last forever if we do not understand the earth of the matter: on ethical point of view,  is it acceptable that a private makes profit on social services?

If we say “yes”, then we can accept that those services be in the private hands, if it is convenient to do so.

If we say “no”, we cannot accept it (with the possible allowance for no-profit organizations) but, to be coherent, we must be prepared to accept a less efficient service, provided that no private be involved.

(*) The definition of “social services” is different from the definition of “public services”.


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