In the controversial book The Welfare State We're In, James Bartholomew argues that the welfare state in Britain has resulted in a generation of badly educated and dependent citizens, leading to lives of deprivation for thousands and undermining the original intent behind its creation in the 1940s.
Has the welfare state really led to more harm than good? What does this imply for the ever-expanding welfare state in the United States?
James Bartholomew trained as a banker in the City of London before moving into journalism with the Financial Times and the Far Eastern Economic Review, for whom he worked in Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Returning to England on the Trans-Siberian Railway through communist China and the Soviet Union an experience which influenced his political outlook he subsequently became a leader writer on The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.
Wendell Primus is the Senior Policy Advisor on Budget and Health issues to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Prior to this appointment in March, 2005, Dr. Primus was the Minority Staff Director at the Joint Economic Committee. Prior to that position, Dr. Primus was the Director of Income Security for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. He previously served in the Clinton Administration as the Deputy Assistant Dr. Primus is the Secretary for Human Services Policy at the Department of Health and Human Services. In that position, Dr. Primus was primarily responsible for policy development and for the conduct of research and evaluation on issues relating to income assistance, employment and related human services programs.
Dr. Primus has also served as Chief Economist for the House Ways and Means Committee and Staff Director for the Committee's Subcommittee on Human Resources. During his fifteen-year tenure at Ways and Means, he was responsible for editing thirteen editions of the Committee's "Green Book." Dr. Primus received his Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State University.
As director of Cato's health and welfare studies, Michael Tanner heads research on new, market-based approaches to health, welfare and Social Security. His approach is based on individual responsibility rather than government control.
His most recent book, Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution (2007), chronicles the demise of the Republican party as it has shifted away from its limited government roots and warns that reform is necessary to avoid electoral defeat in 2008.
Under Tanner's direction, Cato launched the Project on Social Security Choice, which is widely considered the leading impetus for transforming the soon-to-be-bankrupt system into a private savings program. Time Magazine calls Tanner, "one of the architects of the private accounts movement," and Congressional Quarterly named him one of the nation's five most influential experts on Social Security.
In addition to his work on Social Security, Tanner oversees Cato's research on new, market-based approaches to health care reform and social welfare programs.
Wonderful presentation. I liked both sides. I think the aims of right and left are closer than either is comfortable admitting.
I have a strong libertarain streak, yet a subsistance safety net for anyone for any reason sounds good to me. Heat, a roof, a set of clothes, a couple thousand calories a day, basic medical care, basic physical security from theft and assault, all provided in kind - no cash. Some kind of dorm setting. It's got to be a low enough standard of living that folks would vastly prefer not to use it, yet high enough that people are physically and mentally able to function as well as they can.
Then, that's it. Nothing else. No publicly funded Viagra, no Section 8 housing, no unemployment benefits, no subsidized pension checks.
The collective is healthy when everyone that is physically and mentally able supports themselves through retirement.
There are plenty of ways to criticize the welfare state. Since welfare was expanded in the 60's the plight of the poor has gotten worse not better. There are more children being born to broken families, there has been more substance abuse, and their has been more criminal activity. If you are going to subsidize people for being in a desperate situation you are in fact subsidizing the types of behaviors that lead to that desperate situation. This is true because people are aware that the end results of those bad behaviors are handouts from the government. What you end up with is more people engaging in those types of behaviors. Primus asked would you rather be born in a country with a welfare state or no welfare state. I would rather be born in a country with no welfare state. Why?I would be more likely to be born to two parents who take pride in their jobs even if they do not pay much. I would be less likely to live in a crime infested neighborhood. I would be pushed to succeed rather than given excuses for my failure.
The problem is too many people wonder how to eliminate poverty. The real problem is how do we maintain prosperity. America is a wealthy nation right now but there is no guarantee it is going to stay that way. It is not going to stay that way if we continue to allow government to micromanage the lives of its citizens.
There's really no real criticism of welfare other then economic insecurity that leads people to abuse it.
If you looked at the Keynesian economy that the US used from the 40s to 70s it lead to the greatest economic prosperity and security in existence (up until the 70s oil crises which lead to stagflation).
Along with this prosperity was some very intensive welfare.
Post World War II economy or "golden age of capitalism"
things that lead to 70s stagflation and the end of welfare:
First US oil crisis
Second US oil crisis
70s Stock market crash
The irony of James's whole point is that the UK's "welfare state" has been greatly undercut and the economy has been deregulated since the 50s. In fact if you were to connect the "bad behavior" with Thatcher's deregulation and welfare cuts you could probably find some very good correlations.
This also leads to economic insecurity and concentration of wealth that actually leads to more people being on welfare. People in the 50s had a much greater welfare and security which is why there was a lower amount of people on it.
The other part of his point is the idea that the US's welfare state has been increasing when in reality any sort of "welfare" has been drastically cut to nothing while deregulation has persisted.
Since the Clinton's "welfare reform" and subsequent banking deregulation it's very hard to say that the welfare state is increasing.
Clinton's "welfare reform".
Historical minimum wages and their decline in real value.
Banking deregulation that leads to insecurity and people abusing welfare.
Watching this is embarrassing. I'm a liberal who recently moved to an area where people blatantly abuse the (US) welfare system, and I am looking to learn more about the successes and failures of the system.
Instead, I find this posh curmudgeon who is trying to establish a causal relationship between government benefits and soccer hooliganism, and who claims that health care in one welfare state (Britain) is worse than in another welfare state (France) because of the welfare state.
Oh, but I did learn that what we call "Congress", Brits call "Parliament". Hey, thanks. You've reinforced my stereotype that bankers and journalists are idiotic pseudo-thinkers.
Can anyone point me to where I can find some intelligent criticisms of extensive welfare systems?
I agree with @pokerandwine.
People with extreme disabilities or the elderly have an excuse to gain help from welfare. Other than that, as @pokerandwine said, welfare funds should go towards a better and cheaper health care system. If you have your health, then you should be able to work as needed. Health care should be one of our top priorities anyway.
In San Francisco, if you are 'homeless' and fill out the proper forms, you can receive up to $1200/month. That is a pretty ridiculous sum of money for not doing anything constructive in society. And the panhandling is just to make some extra income. I do not want my tax dollars supporting this. If we have a better health care system and no welfare, I bet these 'homeless' people would get off their lazy butts and get a job like the rest of us. But until then, they will continue reaping the benefits of other people's hard work.
The problem is once you grow the size of government, you need the welfare state. Consider a simple case. Who gets to teach in a public school? Well the government monopoly chooses. In a free market, you, the individual can start your own school and offer services. If you can't succeed, it is your own failure.
As government becomes the primary means of employment in either education, healthcare, or just corporate handouts, the individual is less and less to blame for his/her situation. After all, it is the government's fault for employment person X and not person Y for a certain job.
To make up for this, you ultimately need to have a welfare state with handouts for those whom the government has not decided to employ. Take that away, and you will watch massive civil disobedience rise as the government is spending all the countries wealth on the select public servants or corporate cronies and the left over people are starving.
You cannot have it both ways. You either get rid of government monopolies in healthcare, education, transit... or you keep the welfare rolls going. Take your pick.
I will be even more radical than previous contributors. Welfare system that exists right now in the US should be completely eliminated rather than reformed. Not only it kills desire of self-development and diminishes ambitions, but as Chris and Rachel mentioned, it breeds a lazy generation of losers and underachievers. I was originally born in the country where the welfare fund doesn't not exist with the exception of extreme disabilities. That motivates people to learn and improve. It's amazing how in US, the land of opportunities, people choose to collect unemployment checks and stay out of college.
I believe that tax money that government sends to welfare fund could be better used by establishing a more affordable healthcare system.
I hate to say it but ls1z28chris is absolutely right. I think we are a very spoiled country right now and many people (obviously not all) milk the system as much as they can because we live in a very materialistic country. Even in the state that the economy is in right now people continuously have a materialistic and lazy attitude because that is what this generation grew up in. I know countless people that trick the system so they can get food stamps for example. I think people need to appreciate the handout but also realize when they need to sacrifice things and work a little harder.