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Steve Alvest


What are some things that the government could offer for free?

Most of us "spend" a large part of our incomes on paying taxes to the government. But what value do we get in return for this spending? We do have plenty of established benefits. For one, the taxes pay for the maintenance and security of the country. It also pays for enforcement of laws, public services like libraries and schools, government employees to keep all of the paperwork and records in order, the salaries of our politicians, the military, and the legal system, among many other things.

But what else can the government offer that it doesn't already?


    1. Digitally check out books from the Library of Congress

    I've always been fascinated by the Library of Congress, but have never visited despite working for the federal government and living near Washington DC. I think it's because it's intimidating. My local library allows me to check out books and magazines digitally. It would be awesome if the Library of Congress has a similar service.

    2. A minimum income

    I'm a believer in the right to exist, even if you don't generate an income. I think the government should give everyone a very minimal baseline stipend, which would be just enough to live a minimal existence of perhaps a tiny 1-room apartment with electricity and running water, basic medical care, and cheap food. If you aspire to more than that, you have to work. It doesn't make sense for prison inmates to live better lives than penniless free people.

    3. Higher education

    There are lots of smart people out there who happen to be poor and not in a good situation to go to college. With the widespread adoption of the Internet, there's no reason why college should be a limiting factor anymore. Even homeless people can now access the internet in public libraries and learn just about any valuable skill. The government could offer a free exams to be government-certified with the equivalent of a college degree. In essence, the government could allow you to take a test and get the equivalent of a college degree.

    4. Internet access

    More and more, internet access is becoming more like a basic utility, like electricity and water. What if every public building offered free government wifi? Or perhaps give every citizen a subsidy for paying for internet access?

    5. Mobile phones

    Just like my point with Internet access, maybe owning a mobile phone should be a right that every citizen has. Not all mobile phones are $1,000 iPhones. A standard government issue phone could probably be produced for under $100.

    6. Government-sponsored schools

    In the 1960s, the US government was in great need of good engineers. I hear they need cyber security experts these days. What if the government opened schools teaching subjects that are in demand in the government? If there is a need to fill 4,000 park ranger positions throughout the country, maybe they could offer free classes to learn the skills of becoming a park ranger. For people willing to learn and be flexible, it could be free education and a guaranteed job.

    7. Idea submission

    The government could open an agency whose sole purpose is to take ideas from the public and see if they are worthy and feasible for implementation. Perhaps they should also have a budget to use towards implementing some ideas without need for bureaucratic approval. Right now, ideas are pretty much always implemented by the private sector. The government is filled with old close-minded people who would never risk trying a new idea.

    8. Food

    In today's world, there is no excuse for anyone to ever starve to death. Food, clean water, clothing, and shelter should be included in being a citizen of any country. The United States exports tens of billions of dollars of corn and soybeans each year. Citizens of the US should have free access to some of those products, since the US produces so much of it. If you live outside of the US, what are your country's biggest exports? Perhaps you should be entitled some of it as a matter of national pride.

    9. Language classes

    Any great country is sure to have a lot of people who want to immigrate into the country. Language is often a source of resentment and a barrier between local people and recent immigrants. The government should offer free language classes for immigrants to learn the local language and customs.

    10. Jobs

    Anyone who wants to work should be able to work. It always perplexes me when I see able-bodied people standing at the roadside begging for money. This should never happen. Anyone who wants to work should be able to work. During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt established a plethora of government agencies designed to put America to work again. The government should find a job for anyone who wants one.

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