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The Welfare State We're in [Paperback]

James Bartholomew
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Politico's Publishing Ltd; 2nd Revised edition edition (15 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842751611
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842751619
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 476,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


The founding of the welfare state in the 1940s was one of the crowning achievements of modern British history - or was it? In this robustly argued book James Bartholomew advances the hitherto sacrilegious argument that however well-meaning its founders, the welfare state has in reality done more harm than good: Do welfare benefits cause unemployment? How the NHS fails to deliver? Can state education ever be properly reformed? Does broken parenting matter? Is a low state pension better than none, and who pays for it? 'The welfare state has caused tens of thousands of people to live deprived and even depraved lives, and has undermined the very decency and kindness which first inspired it. Evidence will be brought forward to show that it has resulted in a generation of badly educated people...The thesis of this book is that Britain would have been better off without the welfare state.'

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars has to be read 16 Jan 2014
I read this book when it was first published. I found it quite difficult, as it did not just think the unthinkable, it actually said it. But the arguments made a lot of sense.
Is it not a fact, that institutions, when they start their life, are really necessary?They come about because they answer some pressing need in society. They promise great improvements in the lives of their supporters -- and initially they deliver. Then they become more and more powerful and at some point their power, far from being beneficial, becomes oppressive to the individual and damaging to society. This is what happened to the trade unions.

It is more difficult to evaluate the long term impact of the welfare state. How could anyone object to the wonderful idealism behind the creation of the welfare state? Yet, the tree is known by its fruit.

It took a great deal of courage for James Bartholomew to publish "The Welfare State we are in" in 2004. It was received with great enthusiasm by those who already thought that there was something not altogether wonderful about the kind of nation 60 years of the welfare state led to, and of course with derision by those who are hostile to any challenge to their cherished views.

The new edition is a paperback (I wish it was an e-book).
It has been brought up to date with another 10 years of experience of the ills plaguing our society. I wonder whether James Bartholomew's well documented analysis will bring him yet more readers who get a sense of relief when reading what they themselves do not dare to say and whether he is still going to get the customary attacks from the wilfully blind.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Leviathan state 27 Nov 2013
By Jonah
Bartholomew's book offers a telling and much needed exposure of how the modern welfare state has undermined the liberty and integrity of its citizens and created an evolving condition of servility and dependence. It is a must read for all those interested in reducing bureaucracy and enabling liberty and responsibility
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Important Intervention. 8 Nov 2013
By Boswell
This book is not what other reviewers have labelled it. That is to say, it is not at all a treatise on the need for charities to assume the functions presently carried out by government, nor is it an attempt at class warfare.

Mr. Bartholomew does not, it seems to me, want to harm the poor or their interests; quite the opposite in fact. His book attempts to show the inadequacies of the welfare state; the problems that it has caused society as a whole and particularly those who find themselves, through necessity, most subject to it; and, finally, to debunk the notion, which has entered the realm of received opinion, that the welfare state is and has been nothing other than a force for good in Britain.

The tone of the work is neither condescending nor idealist, but rests firmly in the domain of realism. It is refreshing in its objectivity and relies on a lightness of style that makes what is ordinarily a dreary subject stand out from the page.

Though hinting at possible solutions, this book does not set out any firm means of progressive change. Therein lies its weakness. Overall, it is a well-evidenced, balanced, and erudite work characterised by a humanist's touch and a satirist's wit.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars READ THIS BOOK !!!!! 10 Jan 2014
Without question the most important book on the welfare state, but much more than this, one of the most important political/social/historical works of the last half century. Bartholomew describes, like no-one before him, how the welfare state has shaped modern Britain (for the worse) and indeed how it has damaged Western society as a whole in the past 50-60 years, in ways you can't imagine. Like nothing else I've read, the book shows, beyond any possible doubt, how the real victims of welfare are the very people it's meant to help. A devastating book, meticulously researched, brilliantly argued. I defy any supporter of the welfare state to respond in kind. I have bought many copies of this book to give to others. I would urge you all to read the thing, or remain in your black, stinking pit of ignorance and sin. I mean it.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
By David's
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The welfare state we're in
This is a superb and timely study of how the welfare state has been a huge cost in every sense for all of us. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rachel Kelly
1.0 out of 5 stars Where the privileged are neglected
depressing this the reworking of this book were if only charity's cold do it like the olds everything wold be some much better.
Published 9 months ago by topboxs
3.0 out of 5 stars Bad Research, Ideologically Motivated, Yet Still Of Value
Bartholomew, a journalist who has written for The Telegraph and the Daily Mail believes that every part of the welfare state in Britain is a disaster, including schools,... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Gilbert Hall
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
A Right wing Fantasy that if what to believe you will. I found it depressing and opportunistic. I hope people won't be drawn in.
Published 16 months ago by topboxs
1.0 out of 5 stars Half of history- half true
Unbelievabaly polemic distortion of history to suit a neo-con/neo-lib ideology. This book blatantly chooses to veer round the absolute facts. Read more
Published on 9 Feb 2012 by Timsread
1.0 out of 5 stars Another 'have' gloating at the 'have nots'
This kind of neocon propaganda is not worth your time - look to market worshiping consumer capitalism for the real culprit in any decline of the UK citizenry.
Published on 11 Nov 2011 by Marcos
1.0 out of 5 stars The welfare state we're in
Dire. It is badly written, badly researched, many of the graphs stop in the seventy's or eighty's and overall it is just an excuse to try and provide an ideological underpinning... Read more
Published on 7 Dec 2010 by Raggielass
4.0 out of 5 stars The Welfare State we are in
An excellent book of facts. Puts some reality into what has happened to this once great country, of which I am so proud to belong. Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2010 by J. M. Howell
4.0 out of 5 stars The Highway to Hell...
There's the old adage, 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions'. Mr Bartholomew's book tracks the route so far. Read more
Published on 9 Sep 2010 by Paul Boswell
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