Social contract was a phrase that was first given meaning by Jean Jacques Rousseau’s 1762 Treaties for Social Contract as a political and philosophical concept. Arguably social contract has been in place since time immemorial. To put it in its most simple terms it is the relationship between government and its people and what we can expect from such a contract. Inadvertently, or by choice we choose whether to take the benefits of society or not by choosing to live within its rules. But who determines these rules? What we see often in modern day politics is that people are subject to rules that they are no longer feel empowered by? or that represent what they choose. So for example, their healthcare will be arranged by a body or a committee hundreds or even thousands of miles away that will determine what they will receive where they live. This line of accountability or even what one may choose is unclear or at the very least, smudged and what we see predominantly in one society is that quite often if something is wrong the recourse or the redress for that problem is not within our power to feel that we can do something about it. For every government, or for every committee or body that offers a service within our community or within our society there are legislative setups for redress.
So, for example, the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman will deal with complaints that one may have about service they received from the NHS. However it is so complicated, the world that we live in, that for us to make that complaint we have to follow a procedure; a procedure that has been put in place by the organisation. In the case with the NHS, this statutorily passed body that is there to ensure complaints are responded to and so as a taxpayer feels this is the one way to keep track/accountability of something that they have paid for or some part they have participated in society. The biggest question that springs out from this is that does it work? And is it reasonable to expect that it works for every body? And what is good enough?
However this costs a substantial amount of money; more so than our European counterparts, who have far more efficient healthcare systems. But I think we have to delve deeper into this issue and look at more sides than the healthcare that we are providing and the ills that it is solving and how that works as a whole. In conversations that I have had with healthcare professionals and in published evidence it is evident? that neither party is satisfied. Doctors often feel the treatments they prescribe will not solve the ills and that there is an enormous amount of misuse made from our healthcare system. To put it in a simple phrase; if there is no cost, there is no value. What I mean to explain by that is, if we offer something for free people will take advantage of that. But to solve some of the underlying problems that exist within our system maybe we have to go further into why it is that people feel or develop illness. So studies have shown that there is a correlation between the amount of stress that we are under and the relationship to the illnesses. If we are placed under a greater amount of stress, our susceptibility to becoming ill is increased. If we become ill then we seek healthcare. What is it that makes us ill? Is it the way that we are living our lives? There are many government campaigns that support or try to persuade us to eat healthier, exercise more regularly and maintain a balanced life. This, from a social political point of view, decreases the cost but the cost isn’t really what we are concerned with. Healthcare in its self should purely be concerned as the Hippocratic Oath undertaken by health professionals demonstrates that it is not a financial matter, although in a political system it is often perceived as that. It is purely a health issue. We need to have a whole political or society that empowers people and allows them that they feel a part of society to actually increase their health. Is the argument that I am trying to reach here.
What we are trying to demonstrate here is that its not unrelated; what happens to one happens to the other and if one feels that they are far enough away from anything, they have little control or power over it, as talked about in Foucault (problem with governments) that power is very much related to how much we can see what’s going on. We have a health care system that is run two hundred to one thousand miles away from us; we have no relationship to it. If we have no relationship to it, it fundamentally will fail to work. I’m not sure any discussions taking place at the moment in relation to this are looking at this concept of accountability. Which brings us in turn back to where we started, in looking at social contract. If the society and the relationship we have with our government is going to work, then we need to have the accountability. But when it becomes too large that accountability will dissipate. It’s simply not possible for someone who walks down the street in Yorkshire to have the same kind of accountability with someone that’s it is part of a society 50 or 60 million people. So that is what is going to be the forefront of what we are looking to discuss and find other ways of a better social contract where everybody feels a part of it and is empowered by it within modern day society. In short, an obvious conclusion to this is that you make society smaller or subdivide them and make them responsible for all the things that go on within them.
But is this feasible?
Can it really operate? If it does, what will be the consequences of it? Other aspects to be considered are does it go against human nature and that is going to be the basis of what we are discussing, examining in the coming articles.
Rosseau the philosopher did point this out that the larger the government the more power it has to exert over it’s populous.