Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Short Thought For Those On The Right Who Complain About The Cost Of The Welfare State And Slander Claimants

"According to Gregory King over one million persons, nearly a fifth of the whole nation, were in occasional receipt of alms, mostly in the form of public relief paid by the parish. The poor-rate was a charge of nearly £800,000 a year on the country and rose to a million in the reign of Anne. There was seldom any shame felt in receiving outdoor relief, and it was said to be given with a mischievous profusion. Richard Dunning declared that in 1698 the parish dole was often three times as much as a common labourer, having to maintain a wife and three children, could afford to expend upon himself; and that persons once receiving outdoor relief refuse ever to work, and 'seldom drink other than the strongest ale-house beer, or eat any bread save what is made of the finest wheat flour'. The statement must be received with caution, but such was the nature of the complaint of some ratepayers and employers about the poor law...(Charles II's Act of Settlement) was seldom denounced, until many years later Adam Smith dealt with it in scathing terms. It is hard to ascertain the exact degree to which it operated, and Adam Smith appears to have exaggerated the harm done and the number of cases in which cruel wrong was inflicted. But at best it was a great evil; it is the reverse side of that creditable effort of Stuart England to provide for the maintenance of the poor through the local public authorities. That effort, on the whole, was not unsuccessful, and largely accounts for the peaceable character of English society" -
G. M. Trevelyan, 'English Social History, Pages 278-279, a standing rebuke to those right-wing dummies who think that Adam Smith never told lies and that history began with Milton Friedman.
Read that last sentence again, and again, and again - and just think about what would happen if your dreams came true, and the welfare state were abolished.

1 Comments:

Blogger Bruce Hall said...

Perspective from the U.S.:

2012 Elections

01 August, 2009 14:55  

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