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Unit 5 – Economic Rights Economics Rights of the Citizen.

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1 Unit 5 – Economic Rights Economics Rights of the Citizen

2 Decisions about economic security Each country in the world had made decisions about the economic rights of its citizens. The governments of some countries have decided to provide a high level of economic security for their citizens (see Article 25 above from United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights from the previous content page). Sweden is one of those countries. The governments of other countries have decided to allow citizens to make their own arrangements for economic security. The United States is one of these countries.

3 US vs. Sweden medical Sweden provides affordable health care to all of its citizens. Fees are nominal and include a yearly ceiling. Cancer survival rates, infant mortality statistics, and life expectancy figures all surpass those of its European neighbours. The United States does not have a national system of health care.

4 US vs. Sweden - dental A national system of dental insurance was introduced in Sweden in 1974, with the explicit purpose of making good dental care available and affordable to the population. Children under age sixteen receive free dental care. The United States does not have national dental insurance.

5 US vs. Sweden – child care In Sweden, all children are considered to be entitled to preschool daycare. For almost three decades, child care has been an integral part of the Swedish welfare state. The United States does not have a national system of child care.

6 US vs. Sweden – Parental Leave Parental or family leave is the time a mother (or father) takes off from work for the birth or adoption of a child. In Sweden, all working parents are entitled to 18 months' paid leave per child, with the cost shared between employer and the government. To encourage greater paternal involvement in child- rearing, a minimum of three months out of the 18 is required to be used by the "minority" parent, usually the father. The United States does not have a national provision for paid parental leave; however, some employers and some states do have provisions.

7 Taxation Rates The decisions about government spending to provide economic security for citizens contain important implications. Swedish citizens experience an income tax rate of approximately 56%, while Americans pay income tax rates ranging from 10 % to 35 %. It should be noted that Sweden has a population of 9 million and the United States has a population of 300 million.

8 Criticisms of both systems To its critics, the Swedish system is marked by excessive government intervention, inevitable inefficiencies, and an excessive “coddling” of citizens. To its critics, the American system is marked by a shocking gap between the rich and the poor, and by government indifference to the plight of marginalized citizens.

9 Expenditures on welfare costs NationWelfare expenditure as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – source UNDP 2003 Denmark29.2 Sweden28.9 France28.5 Germany27.4 Netherlands24.3 Canada17.8 Japan16.9 United States14.8 South Korea6.1

10 Arguments in favour of Government providing economics security for citizens The right to provisions such as health care and child care should be considered fundamental human rights, and people should not be penalized because they cannot afford certain economic provisions. It may be argued that the same amount of money will produce greater happiness in the hands of a less well-to-do person than if given to a well-to-do person. Therefore, the total happiness in society will increase with the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. The wealthy often manage money that is inherited or obtained by good fortune. The wealthy do not necessarily contribute a great deal more in labour than the average worker. There is a sense of justice that the nation’s resources be distributed on a somewhat equal basis. Furthermore, there are members of society who through disability, health problems, or other causes out of the individual's control, are unable to provide for themselves.

11 Arguments against the Government providing economics security for citizens The right to own property is threatened when the state takes resources from the wealthy and gives them to the less wealthy. The so called “nanny state” - that provides security from cradle to grave - encourages dependency, lowers self esteem and destroys the motivation for hard work. Government intervention in the economy imposes a greater burden on private businesses, and thus slows economic growth and creates unemployment. The free market leads to more efficient and effective production and services than state-run welfare programs. Government-run social programs are costly and are funded by higher levels of taxation. These higher levels of taxation lead to more citizens attempting to avoid paying taxes.

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