30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent counter to Marxist social science content
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...
Published on 11 July 2006 by David's
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Class warfare
This book is another attempt by an elitist to deprive the poor of what meager benefits they get from the government. Healthcare and education are human rights. This writer wants somebody to make a profit from your medical needs, and if you can't afford to pay then you'll be left to die of your illness. Capitalism like that is a crime against humanity. The solution is MORE...
Published 2 months ago by Zero
Most Helpful First | Newest First
30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent counter to Marxist social science content,
This review is from: The Welfare State We're in (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. The central character is disillusioned with left wing politics, impulsive, emotionally intense to the point that he is involved in an unlikely relationship with a homeless woman. At this level, the relationship challenges a taboo within social services. So there we are, four books that serve not only to enlighten and help one articulate common sense arguments against Marxist/feminist inspired social constructionism,they are well written page turners.
34 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a brilliant book.,
This review is from: The Welfare State We're in (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.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bracing but true.,
This review is from: The Welfare State We're in (Paperback)This book simply sets out to explain what we all know from personal experience. Every element of the British welfare state is in perpetual crisis. It is third rate compared with services in most other `advanced' countries.
The hospital my father died in was chaotic. The doctors could never be found, and when they arrived, couldn't speak the language well enough to communicate with the patients. The nurses were little better. The only British people were those that cleaned the toilets and the windows - very poorly. My only attempt to see a NHS specialist took 18 months. The last NHS dentist in my area closed last year. The NHS local hospital is in debt and under threat of closure. Is this utopia? The situation is so bad that it demands an explanation.
Are the people bad? Is there insufficient money? No, to both. The concept of the NHS provides the wrong incentives. Coupled with other failings - conveniently grouped under the `welfare state' - this drives the system to mediocrity. Much the same can be said about education, welfare and crime.
The book isn't perfect; the objection that it is poorly sourced has some justification. But it is a petty objection. This is not intended to be an academic tome that allows you to consult the journal references detailing with excess deaths in NHS hospitals. It is supposed to be accessible - and it is.
Unfortunately, so many people now rely on out corrupt system for their job or their money that changing it will be hard. They are mostly in denial, preferring to see the education of generations blighted and thousands die unnecessarily rather than confront their simple prejudices. Read the book, by all means research further to check its validity, and start thinking what you can do about it.
19 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is the tide turning?,
This review is from: The Welfare State We're in (Paperback)This is one of those rare books that brings our decaying society so clearly into focus that we cannot help but see exactly why it is rotting. I have never seen such a catalogue of astonishing quotes, charts and statistics illustrating the harm done by misguided good intentions marshalled to such powerful effect and peppered with a mass of amazing true stories of real lives taken from the last 150 years. It is a stunningly good read, I couldn't put it down, but ideologues will hate it precisely because the picture it paints is so clear and irrefutable and thinking things through is not fashionable any more. Bartholomew is a good man who I think has seen something important which we all need to understand, marking as it does the starting point for any attempt to help this country recover its humanity. (Don't be put off by the grim cover, hoodies are people too!)
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A shocking indictment of the execution of a compassionate vision,
This review is from: The Welfare State We're in (Paperback)For those of us unfamiliar with the history of social provision before the Welfare State, or the long catalogue of attempts to reform it, this is a valuable resource. It is thoroughly researched, convincingly argued and surprisingly readable.
9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poor? Or just working the system?,
This review is from: The Welfare State We're in (Paperback)The author has a central premise: the poor and the vulnerable have always been catered for, it's just that it never used to be the state, and by extension, the tax payer, who had to do it. He gives examples stretching back to the Middle Ages, when monasteries would give free food and medical care to the poor. Curiously, he notes that parishes which gave more generous benefits often saw an influx of people from neighbouring parishes, possibly the first written accounts of welfare shopping. This also shows that in all centuries, there are people who will shamelessly "work the system".
The author argues that the benefits system has created a parasitic and increasingly brazen underclass. They have a sense of entitlement, and far from being grateful for being kept in comfort for life by other tax payers, constantly try to claim different types of benefit, lying about their circumstances if necessary in order to get it. The cost of this benefit fraud, and the cost to the authorities of prosecuting those caught out is an additional burden on the tax payer. In addition, people who are out of work are deprived of the social network a workplace provides.
The benefits system is strongly attacked on three fronts: firstly, that it creates a parasitic and dependent underclass, for whom conventional norms of morality and acceptable social behaviour are non existent due to them being absolved of all financial responsibility. Secondly, because the bill for maintaining this underclass is passed on to the tax payers and thus over burdens them. Finally, because the benefits system is structured so that people with little/no savings qualify for more money. This has had the effect of discouraging saving and other sensible financial practises in the welfare dependent class.
The author also argues that it is not just the benefits system that has put us in the current state. Things like state subsidised housing, state education and even the National Health Service have been counter productive, as they have removed individual initiative and thrift, as well as creating a bloated bureaucracy to run them. The NHS was created as a means for the state to gain control, and original documents quoted at length show that never once did the NHS' founders claim that prior to the NHS the poor had no medical cover. State housing was a disaster as it broke up families, and created atomised and unfriendly concentrations of welfare dependents on "sink estates".
One notable feature of the book is that the author frequently pays homage to the well meaning, if ultimately short sighted champions of the welfare state like Bevan and Attlee. Rather than denounce them as socialist fanatics, he applauds them for being well intentioned, although he does not hesitate to point out that what they built was ultimately counter productive, especially for the elements of society the welfare state was supposed to help.
All in all, the book is a devastating critique to the notion that we need a welfare state otherwise the poor will starve and die. The book show cases that before the creation of the welfare state, there were systems, often highly effective, which provided for the needs of the vulnerable. Has the welfare state out lived its purpose? The reader is left to draw their own conclusions, although the evidence is extremely convincing that it may have.
6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prepare to be astonished,
This review is from: The Welfare State We're in (Paperback)A totalling compelling look at how the unimaginable has happened.
The issues raised affect every one of us.
If you have every found yourself asking the question: "What is happening to this country?" - read this book.
If you're a taxpayer - read this book.
If you survive on benefits - read this book.
If you're a politician ....you should be made to read this book!
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Class warfare,
This review is from: The Welfare State We're in (Paperback)This book is another attempt by an elitist to deprive the poor of what meager benefits they get from the government. Healthcare and education are human rights. This writer wants somebody to make a profit from your medical needs, and if you can't afford to pay then you'll be left to die of your illness. Capitalism like that is a crime against humanity. The solution is MORE funding for the NHS, schools and housing, not less.
26 of 49 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars cannot criticise this harshly enough....,
This review is from: The Welfare State We're in (Paperback)Having seen how this book polarised opinion, and interested by its synopsis, I purchased this book. I would have given it zero stars if that was possible. First of all, I agree with other reviewers that this is not necessarily a right-wing book. It certainly doesnt come across as some ranting right-wing polemic, that would be an injustice to the author. It does, however, come across as ignorant, speculative, confuses cause and effect in many places, and has an interesting take to statistics and facts. (Use them when they support your argument, ignore them if they don't). Its rosy view of Victorian times is sickening. Its overall conclusion is wrong as well. Ill give an example. It details Lloyd-George's trip to observe National Insurance schemes in Germany. In the same chapter, it argues low economic growth was a result of social security in this country. What it fails to mention is that during the 30 odd years between the German introduction of national insurance and our own in 1911, German Economic Growth was marvellous and far exceeded ours, and culminated in Germany overtaking Britain as an industrial power. This statistic is powerful and shows the author's argument to be wrong, hence why it was ignored. The authors statistics regarding social security and economic growth are tenous and provide no real link. In conclusion, if you must read this, please keep an open mind and try to evaluate the points raised, rather than simply absorb them.
4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human behaviour is dictated by incentives,
This review is from: The Welfare State We're in (Paperback)One of the most interesting and convincing books I've ever read - pulls together many of the observations that I'd made for myself about why society today is far worse off socially than in the reputed 'olden days'. It is extremely persuasive but in many areas the author would do well to more fully expand upon caveats and make more reference to the effect of confounding - without these, critics could find it too easy to dismiss many of the arguments, despite their obvious logic, support from evidence and basic common sense = if you give people money for doing nothing, then that is exactly what they will do.
See also the fantastic 'Life at the Bottom' by Theodore Dalrymple.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
The Welfare State We're in by James Bartholomew (Paperback - 15 May 2006)
Used & New from: £8.49