It is no secret that a large portion of the people in a nation rely on the government for survival; this, after all, has been bred into them. People tend not to bite the hand that feeds them. The problem that this has developed is the same as the old proverb; people have been given fish but are not being taught to fish. This is not a matter of education in skills but a lesson in self-reliance, something our nation sorely lacks.

As I have mentioned before, the only true obligation of the government is defense, but as the states have grown over a millennia, they have grown a mentality where people will rely on them. This mentality cannot be broken in a day or even a generation but must be taken down nonetheless. But the state does not wish that. They continue to give workers, the unemployed and most of us a sense of entitlement and dependence on the state institution. So, the question is: how do we stop this?

As many would say, we must educate the people, but someone can only be ethically taught if they desire it. Another opinion would be to just remove all welfare and state benefits from the people. This will, of course, curb state reliance but as the result of state reliance, people have been dug into a hole and have been relying on the state throwing in some food every once and a while for survival.

This means that if that support stops, the people will die. That is not really an ethical option but keeping them on the teat of the state is even more unethical in its own way. People will never be able to develop if they are spoon fed and the government knows this, if we are to ever have a productive nation with a truly free society; people need to start working for their entitlement. In addition to this, the fact that people are taxed for a service that they are in no way receiving is highly unethical. It is not charity to force someone to give their money to someone else. We call that theft.

So that takes me back to the title of this article. How can a better society build self-reliance without killing the people who are too reliant on the state? Maybe it’s a question of slow adjustment but how slow and in what manner? What services should be made private, eradicated or remain public?

We, and hopefully many others, will be addressing this in the future. All we know is that with debt as high as it is, we cannot continue to rely on the welfare state.

Nicholas Woode-Smith is co-founder of the Rational Standard and its Technical and Marketing Director. He is a student at the University of Cape Town, with majors in Politics, Philosophy and Economic History. He is the youngest council member of the Institute of Race Relations in history and the Regional Director of Southern Africa for African Students For Liberty. He also writes science fiction – prominently, the Warpmancer and Cape Zero series.