Jeremy Abroad

Does Society Owe You Anything?

October 30, 2018

“Society doesn’t owe you anything.”

This phrase is often said by people on the right-wing, usually to argue against redistribution of wealth, universal healthcare, public education, and anything resembling a government handout.

But if society doesn’t owe you anything, then it follows that society literally owes you absolutely nothing, including enforcement of any laws.

If someone steals your property, then society doesn’t owe you any help in catching the criminal, giving you back your stolen property, and punishing the criminal.

If someone physically harms you, then society doesn’t owe you any help in finding the criminal, punishing the criminal, and providing you any medical treatment you may need.

Clearly society would be pure chaos if there was no rule of law and enforcement of it. This is why we have what’s known as a social contract.

We can negotiate on the terms of the contract, but unless you’re an advocate of pure anarchy, the phrase “society doesn’t owe you anything” is technically not something you truly stand by and thus not a legitimate retort to arguing against anything.


Jeremy Bernier

Written by Jeremy Bernier who left the NYC rat race to travel the world, work remotely, and find the meaning of life.