It is the exercise of responsibility which teaches self-discipline. But in the early stages of life it is the experience of authority, when exerted fairly and consistently by adults, which teaches young people how to exercise responsibility themselves. We have to learn to take orders before we learn how to give them. This two-way relationship between obedience and responsibility is what makes a free, self-governing society.

—Margaret Thatcher. The Downing Street Years, 1993.

Most people are able to motivate themselves. However, a small portion of the population (made far larger by welfare) have a debilitating lack of motivation. This concerns the government because their lack of motivation results in them using crime to support themselves; seeking and voting for welfare; and neglecting and abusing their children. Each of these injures not just themselves but also others. This gives the government just cause for interfering with their liberty.


Children should be brought up in a healthy and happy environment. That means that if a child’s parents are criminals or drug-users, the child will be better off taken away from them. Extreme care should be taken to ensure that the children raised in foster families are safe from bullying or abuse.

Drug use

Drug use is a major reason why people are chronically poor. Addicts are trapped in a mindless existence where their sole motivation is feeding their addiction. They lose their natural instincts for self-improvement and for securing a better future. Thus, eliminating drug use is vital to addressing poverty.


Under anti-squalor laws, dwellings used for human habitation:

  • Should be free of vermin and cockroaches;
  • Bathrooms should have functioning plumbing with no cracked tiles or mould problems;
  • Carpets should not be worn through;
  • Walls and ceilings should be clean without cracked or peeling paint;
  • Smoke detectors should work;
  • Electricity, heating, and air-conditioning should work;
  • Hot and cold water should work;
  • Every dwelling should have its own bathroom;
  • Kitchens should be clean, and dishwashers, ovens, and stoves should work;
  • Refrigerators should be clean and functional;
  • Windows should not be cracked or broken;
  • Ceilings should be of a minimum height and bedrooms of a minimum size;
  • Every dwelling should have a laundry with a working washer and dryer.

It should be the personal responsibility of each tenant—never their landlord— to ensure that their dwelling complies with anti-squalor laws. This will encourage people to take responsibility for their own living conditions, and incentivize them to spend time and effort bringing premises they rent up to scratch. Thus poor tenants will paint walls, seal up cracks, kill rodents and cockroaches, ventilate to prevent mould, repair, and take pride in their dwellings. They will form committees in their buildings to prevent rubbish being dumped in hallways or hooligans
applying graffiti, and arrange for common areas to be painted.


Freedom is a tenable objective only for responsible individuals. We do not believe in freedom for madmen or children. We must somehow draw a line between responsible individuals and others.

—Milton Friedman. Capitalism and Freedom, 1962

Those with no habitable abode should be required by law to turn themselves in and be housed in a privately run, legally prescribed workhouses. These should be paid for by the residents through a levy on their income once they get back on their feet.

Residents should be required to get up at 4:00 am and undergo vocational and financial training for eight hours, followed by eight hours manual labor (gardening, fruit-picking, cooking, painting, cleaning, etc.), and then go to bed by 8:00 pm (for eight hours of solid sleep). The minimum stay in an employment hostel should be two months, after which residents should be allowed out for eight hours, four days a week, to seek employment. Upon obtaining a job, they should continue to live at the employment hostel (and be required to work in their spare hours) until they can demonstrate they have obtained accommodation, secured an income, and reached a prescribed level of personal savings.

Criminals should never be sent to an employment hostel, which would be stigmatized by their presence. There is nothing shameful about falling on hard times and having no way to feed and shelter yourself. Most people have family and friends who would, if there were no welfare, provide them with accommodation until they got back on their feet. However, for those who have no friends or family in a position to help, the employment hostel should be an honorable substitute, giving the destitute an option to live with dignity (by working) rather than resort to crime, welfare or begging.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove