Wants of individuals may be classed as material and immaterial. Of these classes the individual is usually first and most concerned with supplying himself with the material things. Often he does not recognize the value of other than material goods to himself, or that he will be a better member of society for having had them. Then, too, many of the immaterial services are so remote that they would scarcely call forth individual effort. Many individuals are incapable of supplying more than the material needs even if they recognized the value of the immaterial, while many cannot even supply the needed material goods.
These services, valuable to the individual himself and to his usefulness in society, which he could not or would not supply, must be given by the state if they are to be had. Ordinarily the state makes the supplying of these immaterial needs a duty of first importance. A comparison of total expenditures for each of the classes of services would show a much larger percentage for the immaterial.
The supplying of material goods arises either when the individual cannot supply his needs, as in charities and state institutions, or when the recipient pays for the utilities in much the same way as he would if they were supplied by an individual.
The immaterial goods supplied by the state might be divided into a number of classes. One of the most important is that of protection. Except in time of war the need for protection by the army and navy seems so remote to the ordinary individual that, even if it were possible, he would exert no effort to secure it. The Federal government, therefore, provides it as a common service, much better and more effectively than would individuals if left to supply it for themselves. The protection to person and property given by state and city governments is also much more effective than if it were supplied directly by individuals.
Expenditure for education, as we have seen, is an important item in the finances of each political unit. This utility is considered so valuable to the individual and state that its acceptance is, to a certain degree, compulsory. The person with a public school education is so much better able to take his place in the world, and is enough more valuable as a citizen, that the individual is compelled to receive the education the public school can give. Conservation of health, sanitation, libraries, and parks are other sources of immaterial goods which the citizen receives, and which would be secured in a much smaller degree if they were not supplied by the state.