Scott McNealy: Government should only care for people who are 'physically and mentally' incapable of doing it

  • The government is paying too much for social safety-net programs, says the Silicon Valley pioneer and outspoken libertarian.
  • McNealy's solution: Figure out "how many people are born incapable" of caring for themselves and help just them.
  • "I just think this stuff has become a benefit of being a citizen," he says.

The government is paying too much for too many people to be in social safety-net programs, said Scott McNealy, Silicon Valley pioneer and outspoken libertarian.

McNealy, co-founder and former CEO of software firm Sun Microsystems, told CNBC on Friday that he has a solution to reducing the rolls. (Oracle acquired Sun in 2010 for $7.4 billion.)

Society needs to figure out "how many people are born incapable of taking care of themselves, just physically and mentally," said McNealy, also co-founder of digital marketing firm Wayin and online education community Curriki, on "Squawk Box." "Let's accept that as the number of people we're going to put in the safety net. We'll give them food, housing, education, training; whatever they need."

"What percentage is that? Let's find out that number; ask doctors, ask psychologists; ask behavioral scientists," he said. "I don't care what that number is. I'd be happy to have a progressive tax to help pay for the bottom 3 percent."

"But the bottom 50 million on food stamps really gets at my craw," McNealy said, without specifying any other programs.

The Department of Agriculture said 42 million people participated in the food stamp program last year. That's 13 percent of the U.S. population of about 327 million people. The cost in 2017 was $68 billion.

"I just think this stuff has become a benefit of being a citizen, not a requirement because I am incapable of taking care of [myself]. Families should be taking care of people. Local communities should be taking care of people," McNealy said.

"The federal government is so far away from taking care of the safety net people." he said. "Give that money down to the local area, and not do it at the federal level."

Libertarians generally want to see the size and intrusiveness of government reduced.

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