The government which usurps the yoke of responsibility for people acquires an unsolvable problem: morally, direct improvement of the miserable lives of some takes precedence over the mere bettering of the lives of others. Medical expenses for those who cannot afford them have a higher budget priority than improvement of roads. Medical expenses could be infinite: there is no theoretical limit to the amount of services and money that could be expended on a person in need. A government that claims to act morally should spend all its revenues on medical care rather than infrastructure or other expenses, even education. Among the medical services, life-critical services should—by the moral standard—receive the highest priority.

The government should logically spend tax revenues entirely on intensive care units and similar purposes. That’s clearly unacceptable since society has other priorities. Arbitrary provisioning, like reserving 20 percent of the budget for medical care and 30 percent of the medical expenses to life-critical treatment, would be immoral because it deliberately votes some people out of existence. The only proper choice is to reject society’s responsibility for its members except in a very narrow range of circumstances: specifically, when people who otherwise acted prudently appeared in dire need of help. In other words, people are obliged to take any job whatsoever rather than asking for society’s help. People must also procure insurance for themselves directly or through employers rather than asking the government to pay their medical bills, even in old age.

The Torah meaningfully limits charity to widows and orphans—people who positively cannot provide for themselves and are not guilty of imprudence. The Torah also limits the amount of charity: widows and orphans are entitled to glean, not to demand anything else. Pay attention: widows, not divorcees! In modern terms, charity is limited to very basic needs. Individual apartments, extensive free medical care, and family benefits are clearly beyond the scope of charity intended by the Torah. Even though Hebrew society included artisans, only staple foods are tithed. A modern 10 percent tax should be based on one’s basic consumption, not on the income or luxury consumption. Welfare recipients could claim a 10 percent share in society’s food, housing, and medical expenses, perhaps also in education—but not in purchases of cars or vacations. Tithe sufficed for life-critical needs in a sustenance economy and would more than suffice in affluent societies.

Governments claim social contract as the basis of their legitimacy; presumably, the people are content with 20-30 percent taxation for redistribution. If so, enforcing a tithe would be an easy job, even more so since the taxpayers would clearly see that their money goes to the needy ones. Government need not manage the tithe funds: people should be free to donate that amount to any licensed charity they wish. People who don’t want to bother choosing a charity to donate to could pay their tithe to the government.