in association with
organized lecture in Bratislava given by
on an issue
The Damage Done by the Welfare State
Event was hosted by Peter Gonda, economist for the Conservative Institute.
Welfare States tend to do a great deal of damage. The damage takes many forms.
In social security, an enormous amount of additional unemployment is created. This long-term, mass unemployment causes depression among those who endure it. It creates a major tax burden for others. It leads to widespread fraud.
In healthcare, a monopolist government system such as we have in Britain has proved disastrous. Ten thousand people each year die unnecessarily in Britain each year from cancer alone because our state monopoly healthcare is so inferior to the average system in Europe.
In education, state education has been so ineffective that one in five British people is "functionally illiterate". That is, one in five people cannot read a poster advertising a pop concert. State schools have also contributed to an increase in crime in Britain. They have done this by keeping in school until the age of 16 children who have not even been taught how to read properly. They are bored and alienated.
State pensions could reasonably be regarded as a confidence trick played by governments on the public. People in the 1970s, for example, were led to believe that the government pension scheme would look after them well in their old age. Those who trusted the promises now find themselves very poor in their declining years.
In addition to these specific failings, the welfare state has been a major cause of the change in the nature of British people. In the first half of the 20th century - perhaps up until the 1960s - the British were generally decent, independent-minded, civil, law-abiding people. Crime was low. Behaviour was generally polite. The working class had codes of good behaviour just as much as the middle and upper classes.
photo/bartholomew06.JPGNow that has dramatically changed. Crime has rocketed. Britain is more violent than before. Whereas before, crowds at football matches were said to behave as well as congregations at church services, now there are regularly outbreaks of violence. Behaviour in certain state schools has degenerated to the point where many classes are a mater of crowd control. Dishonesty is taken to be normal. The concepts of 'honour' and 'decency' are in decline. These changes can, to a large degree, be attributed to the welfare state.
It may be that, in democracies, some kind of welfare state is inevitable. But if we are to have the best possible healthcare and education and if we are to avoid a deterioration in the character of people in democracies, we must be aware of the ways that welfare states can cause damage and strive to minimise them.
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.
He continues to write for both newspapers, as well as The Sunday Telegraph, the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Express and The Spectator on a freelance basis. His previous books are The Richest Man in the World: The Sultan of Brunei and Yew and Non-Yew. He is married, with two children, and lives in London.
James Bartholomew is an author of famous book The Welfare State We’re In.
The Welfare State We're In was the winner of the Institute of Economic Affairs' 2005 Arthur Seldon Award for Excellence.
More information on James Bartholomew can be found here.