The tension between individual liberty and the greater good is one governments must continually grapple with.
Nobody likes be told What To Do but should we Do It and It turns out to be a bad idea, most people like the idea of a social safety net.
Voters want lower taxes but they also want the same, if not more, government services. Greece is currently exhibit A in how badly this situation can end.
Here is my humble solution for helping those who genuinely need it while still maintaining personal choice and responsibility.
Upon turning 18 every Australian will be eligible to apply for status as a Government-Recognised Organised, Wise and Naturally Useful Person.
Each GROWNUP receives a licence that allows them vastly enhanced personal freedom while forgoing any government-funded services or benefits.
A GROWNUP is entitled to eat as many McArtery Bursters as they wish without having to endure lectures from well-meaning but slightly patronising public health experts. This will be achieved by special set top boxes that replaces anti-smoking and obesity commercials with ads for whatever version of MasterChef is currently screening.
Any young lady wanting to go to a small bar to spend $50 on three complicated fruit-based cocktails will face no barrier provided she can a) present her GROWNUP licence and b) put up with the pretentious hipsters who frequent small bars.
And should either of these two rugged individuals choose to end Saturday night (or Tuesday morning) with a teaspoon’s worth of heroin then it is their right as a GROWNUP.
However, if a GROWNUP’s arteries clog up or liver fail or vein collapse then they will not be eligible for any public health care.
Diabetes, lung cancer, cirrhosis, hepatitis and any other diseases bought on by “lifestyle choices” will be the responsibility of the GROWNUP and any costs associated will be borne by them.
GROWNUPs will also be legally able to BASE jump, skate board or roller blade off any structure of their choosing.
This may prove a new revenue stream for large skyscrapers as they charge people a nominal fee for access to the roof.
Again, this right is coupled with the understanding that should the GROWNUP land head first in the middle of Adelaide Terrace, it is nobody’s responsibility but their own.
Naturally this enlightened era of personal responsibility assumes people are educated enough to make informed decisions.
To ensure this, money saved by making smokers and the morbidly stupid pay their own medical bills will be reinvested back into schools where the curriculum has been subtly tweaked.
Science will have questions like “If a 90kg cyclist exercising his right not to wear a helmet hits a wall at the speed of 20km/h, what amount of force in Newton metres impacts his brain?”
Maths students will learn the different effects an interest rate rise of .25 per cent has on a $600,000 four-by-two McMansion versus a $380,000 three-bedroom unit.
Finally English literature students will analyse libertarian classics like Kenny Roger’s The Gambler, particularly the sections on risk management as it applies to chance-based card games.
High school graduates would then have the knowledge and, thanks to the GROWNUP licence, the ability to take responsibility for their own actions.
Anyone frightened by this brave new world of personal responsibility need not fear. Being a GROWNUP will not be mandatory. All those without licence will still be subjected to the full force of state intervention, from Medicare to anthromorphic cartoon animals telling you to “Butt Out”.
As with all truly liberal schemes, the choice is up to the individual: do you want to be treated like a grown up?