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The Welfare State We're In Hardcover – 8 Nov 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Politico's Publishing Ltd; First Edition edition (8 Nov. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842750631
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842750636
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


A splendid book. A devastating critique of the welfare state. A page-turner, yet also extensively sourced. I congratulate Mr Bartholomew. -- Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize-winning economist


The founding of the welfare state in the 1940s was one of the crowning achievements of modern British history - or was it? In this work James Bartholomew advances the sacrilegious argument that however well-meaning its founders, the welfare state has in reality done more harm than good.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 122 people found the following review helpful By "janchristian3" on 7 Nov. 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is not a dry sociological study. Page by compelling page Mr Bartholomew shows that the welfare state has been a disaster for Britain. The well-meaning welfare programmes of the government have impoverished, criminalized, demoralized and yes, even killed through neglect and incompetence those who are most vulnerable in our society. This book will help to shift the terms of the political debate. Anecdotes, illustrations and statistical evidence reinforce one another chapter after chapter and make for compulsive and fascinating reading. A striking aspect of this book is that the author shows that many of the issues were correctly diagnosed and addressed by the great nineteenth century social reformers, only to have their basic lessons disregarded or forgotten in the twentieth century. Truly those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it. Importantly, Mr Bartholomew does not merely criticize the welfare state, he persuasively shows that Britain was once and could be again a dynamic compassionate and civil society sustained by and reinforcing a healthy morality in the private sector. The government is the problem, not the solution. The evidence is all here, clearly laid out. Press this book into the hands of every civil servant, teacher and doctor you know.
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67 of 83 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Nov. 2004
Format: Hardcover
A good analysis of the history of welfare in Britain and it's effects on society that isn't blinded by abstract socialist ideology and dogma, but rather takes a very pragmatic look at the successes and failures of welfare over the past few hundred years.
What makes this book particularly interesting is that the modern welfare state is put into historical perspective, as the author himself points out: few people today are familiar with what came before the post-WWII welfare state. Also good is the comparison of the performance of our modern welfare state with other European nations which have traditionally been considered more socialist than Britain, but which it turns out have far more mixed systems than pure state-run Britain.
This book might not be liked by those with grand ideological pretensions as the language is purely pragmatic rather than abstract.
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful By David's on 11 July 2006
Format: Paperback
I bought this book along with Dalrympole's Life at the Bottom, and Magnet's The Dream and the Nightmare: the legacy of the nineteen sixties. Together they provided a necessary antedote to the tiresome, Marxist/feminist drivel passed off as rational social science in my university course. As with Dalrympole's view, Bartholomew argues convincingly that the welfare state has not only impoverished peoples' lives but controlled them. I am not sure if society would be better off without some form of state welfare, it certainly would benefit with reduced 'nanny state' levels that it has reached today. The 1946 National Insurance Act which enacted the Beveridge Report of 1942 was able to survive as it did thanks in large part to the UK's slice of Marshall Aid. The economic boom of the 1950s ensured full employment and a strong economic growth and industrial output. By the time the economic bubble finally burst in 1976, thanks to the oil crisis, the welfare state had become an uncontrollable monster, and was simply economically unsustainable. Thatcher tried to downsize it but expendature on welfare rose throughout her terms of office and beyond. Welfare has become so ingrained in society that talk of immigration is linked to their right to welfare rather than employment. Bartholomew injects must needed common sense into the debate on welfare. It's no surprise that the university material makes no referrence to his book, then again, the ideology of the course writers reflects the controlling ideology underpinning the welfare state that Bartholomew opposes. Another book I commend is Unlocking Carol's Smile (Trafford Publishing) which, although a novel, is a common sense approach to homeless issues. The writer draws on his experience working in the field to bring the characters and their conflicts to life.Read more ›
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36 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Esther Roberts on 6 July 2006
Format: Paperback
Despite our great wealth, depression, anxiety, anger disorders and addictions are increasing dramatically in this country and the source of much of this can be traced to the type of society politicians have created over the last 100 years: the Welfare State. Bartholomew shows how this happened and why, despite the good intentions of most of those individuals responsible for it, it is not good for us. Indeed it has proved to be a social disaster.

Despite what some reviewers have said I did not find this to be "a right wing" analysis at all. It is honest and heartfelt and apolitical, written by a man who used to assume, like most of us, that the Welfare State ideal was "a good thing".

If you take the trouble to read it, no hardship since it is so well written and full of a huge number of riveting real-life stories, it will revitalise your understanding of why governments of the last 50 years have made such a mess of this country: even if they didn't mean to. Nature did not design the human brain to become addicted to having 'the State' solve all our problems for us. To go against how Nature designed us to operate - which is that we must stretch ourselves to solve problems individually and thereby survive in the world - is making us very sickly indeed.

Anyone with a clear head can learn from this book.
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