3.4.6 The Subsidiarity of Financial Dependence

People need food and shelter as basic requirements for survival and, if they are not able to provide sufficiently for themselves through their own creation of wealth, they may be economically dependent upon others.  They are deemed to have ‘socio-economic rights’.  These rights are established for moral reasons, as described in the next chapter (, and they have been negotiated as entitlements even though they are politically contentious (6.7.1).

Socio-economic rights are delivered at several levels of subsidiarity:

  • Family members who are not in paid work may be dependent upon others within the family who are earning.
  • People who claim transfers directly from government-provided funds are subject to rules and conditions.
  • Local government in poorer areas may be dependent upon central government to provide funds for services that are regarded as standard entitlements within that country.
  • Poorer countries may be dependent upon aid from other countries, as described later in this chapter (
  • Shortfalls in government support at any level of subsidiarity may be remedied by charities or other non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Those who provide for the needs of others are exerting almost unlimited economic power over them.  What might be a simple economic transfer, to meet a widely-agreed obligation, can be used to humiliate people or as leverage to exert political pressure in the case of foreign aid – as discussed later (


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