The Pathos of Politics (123) Welfare


Extremism can flourish only in an environment where basic governmental social responsibility for the welfare of the people is neglected. ~ Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto

State provision of sustenance is termed welfare. Various provisions of welfare by the state are collectively called a welfare state.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Talmud is the canon of Jewish law and tradition that dates to 500 ce. For the welfare of those in need, the Talmud prescribed those able to give “sufficient for his needs in that which he wanteth.”

Christianity carried on this tradition. The Decretum, a canon codified in the 12th century, elaborates on the theory and practice of charity. It was assumed that need arose from misfortune, for which society, in an act of justice, not charity or mercy, had to assume responsibility. The needy had a right to assistance, and those better off had a duty to provide it.

By the 6th century, monasteries served as the centers of relief, especially in rural areas. By the 11th century, feudal manors imposed a strong measure of constraint on individual freedom while providing social insurance against the exigencies of life. Those in the cities were often helped by craft, merchant, or social guilds. While guilds for the most part benefited members, they also provided assistance to others.

Besides medical assistance, medieval hospitals aided those in need: whence the term hospitality. Most early hospitals were attached to monasteries or found along main travel routes. Soon they appeared in cities, and were later taken over by municipal authorities, thus forming a tie between ecclesiastical and secular charity. By the mid-14th century there were more than 1,100 such hospitals in England alone.

Medieval poor relief was governed by the time-honored belief that poverty was an inescapable feature of society, and that the better off were obliged to aid their poorer brethren. It was practiced in a localized environment of social stability, in which strangers and mass destitution were largely absent. In sum, relief was part of community.

The dissolution of feudalism and manorialism afforded greater individual freedom at the considerable risk of hardship for many, especially agricultural laborers forced from the land. Social and economic transitions, including the Protestant Reformation, changed communities and societies with respect to unemployment, poverty, and poor relief.

Increasing urbanization and the growth of a money economy affected the incidence and nature of poverty. Destitution was kicked into high gear with industrialization and the rise of the factory system.

Centuries earlier, the social power of the church waned as that of the state rose. With that transition came a turnabout in attitude toward the poor: traditional Christian compassion dissolved in the attitudinal acid of abetting commerce.

Just as laborers were emerging from a state of servitude, aristocratic governance aimed to keep them in check. The first English labor law was proclaimed in 1349, a year after the Black Death. It sought to steady the exploitable labor force: fixing maximum wages, restricting travel, and in effect compelling the jobless to work for anyone willing to hire them. Such laws saw sporadic revival and returned when labor shortages were especially acute. The intention, of course, was to benefit the upper-class merchants, manufacturers, and landowners at the expense of laborers.

Mixed with labor restrictions were instructions to local officials to assign areas where the “aged poor and impotent persons” may be permitted to beg. (The term impotent meant unable to work.) Relieving abject poverty was recognized as a means to preserve order – an especial need during times of food scarcity, high prices, and economic turmoil, which were becoming a periodic feature of the market system.

In England through the 16th century, the church largely cared for the poor. The resources to do so came from the generosity and tithes of parishioners.

In 1535, parliament passed an act punishing beggars and vagabonds. The next year, Henry VIII began his infamous Dissolution of the Monasteries, which ravaged parochial resources, and so resulted in a dramatic increase in destitution. After generations of widespread suffering, parliament passed its first poor law in 1601.

Poor laws were intended as a palliative, not a cure. The renowned poor law of 1601 – known as the Elizabethan Poor Law – is exemplary. The able-bodied poor were to be set to work. Pauper children were to be apprentices. The idle poor and vagrants were to be imprisoned. Those who were “lame, impotent, old, or blind” were to be offered relief in a poorhouse.

The economic thinking that dominated Europe from the 16th century was that poverty was instrumentally beneficial to society. Albeit miserable for those caught in the grip of the merciless “invisible hand” of the market system, plentiful cheap labor was what kept the economic engine humming, so thought heartless economists.

In the late 18th century, English attitudes toward the poor took on a moralizing tone. Clergyman Thomas Malthus blamed the plight of the poor on their own flaws.

Welfare states came into existence in Europe in the late 19th century, spawned by conservative governments who wanted to thwart the nascent trade union movement. To gain working-class support that might otherwise go to the socialist opposition, conservative Chancellor Otto von Bismarck created the first modern welfare state in the 1880s. The Austro-Hungarian Empire followed a few years later.

The same impetus propelled welfare states in authoritarian and fascist regimes following the 1st World War. They provided mass transport, affordable housing, medical care, and pensions as a matter of course, in order to maintain productivity, national unity, and social peace.

The foundations for Britain’s welfare state originated with the Liberal Party in the 1st decade of the 20th century. Welfare measures were extended greatly over the next 40 years.

This was a turnabout. Liberals in the 19th century had been primarily concerned with free trade. But by the turn of the 20th century, classical liberalism had evolved into social liberalism in Britain.

The Liberals shift away from laissez-faire economics was prompted as a way to allay the appeal of the leftist Labour Party. They were also inspired by the success of the Prussian economy under Bismarck.

Leftists on the continent opposed welfare measures for fear that they would dilute worker militancy and leave the status quo intact (on this point they were right). Only after the 2nd World War and abandonment of Marxism did European socialists and unions fully accept that a welfare state was their ultimate goal.

In a setback for decency, callous governance has become the 21st-century norm in the UK. Britain’s welfare state now is consistent with governmental disregard 4 centuries ago. Poverty and hunger are ignored. Further, the destitute are denied welfare to which they are legally entitled.

The right to food is a fundamental human right contained in several international treaties to which the UK has long been committed. But tens of thousands of families in the United Kingdom do not have enough food. Hunger is rising at an alarming rate owing to a wide-ranging and draconian restructuring of the country’s welfare system since 2010. The British government has largely ignored growing evidence of a stark deterioration in the standard of living for the country’s poorest residents. ~ Human Rights Watch in 2019


As in other Asian countries, the Chinese traditionally relied on the extended family for their welfare. The state spent little on social services.

After the Communists took power in 1949, Mao created an “iron rice bowl,” where welfare needs were met through local government administration. This attempt at a comprehensive welfare state survived less than 2 decades, when the chaos of the Cultural Revolution disrupted societal functioning.

China after Mao’s demise went to a mixed model of massive state-owned enterprises topped off with entrepreneurism. The welfare state suffered similar fragmentation.

Since the 1990s, China has introduced piecemeal welfare provisions for unemployment, workers’ compensation, maternity benefits, health care, and pensions. There is considerable disparity between the state and the private sector, between urban and rural citizenry, and among China’s provinces.

In the 21st century, China has aimed to eliminate poverty: a goal as yet unmet. By 2014, the government had compiled a registry of people and households below the poverty line. Mexico and the Philippines also have such registries.

The Chinese registry is woefully incomplete. Only 10 families were listed in a village of 100 poor households in Shanxi province. Those 10 listed were friends of the party boss.

China’s poverty line does not correspond with cost of living. Though the government claims that urban poverty has been eliminated, a survey found that in much of the country urban hardship was actually worse than rural privation.

China’s main form of poor relief is called “subsistence guarantee,” or dibao. Owing to corruption and bureaucratic failure, the dibao program is notoriously inefficient. It does not help that poverty registry and dibao data are kept by different government agencies, and the listings are not linked.

The dibao program, though financed by the national government, is administered locally. Most of China’s poorest are not in the program. Local governments may set their own poverty lines and benefits. Some thresholds lay far below the national minimum: payments are barely enough to live on. Total dibao spending peaked in 2013, and has been falling since, partly because local governments are getting stingier.

China spends only 0.2% of GDP on poverty reduction: far less than comparable programs elsewhere (except the United States). Indonesia shells out 0.5% of GDP on poverty relief.

A 2007–2009 World Bank survey found that just 10% of those that did get dibao were below the poverty line; 90% did not qualify for the handouts they were getting. Further, government officials misappropriate much of the monies intended for welfare.

United States

Blaming the poor for being poor stems from the myth that success requires only individual motivation and ability. Many in the United States adhere to this view and hence have a harsh opinion of the poor. This attitude is also reflected in US public policy concerning poverty, which rather ungenerous compared to other industrialized nations. ~ Margaret Anderson & Howard Taylor (In 2017, over half of white Republicans and over one-quarter of white Democrats believed that poverty was caused by lack of motivation and willpower.)

Most of those who voluntarily moved to the American colonies in the 17th century had little. The British were also shipping thousands of undesirables – rogues, convicts, vagrants, and orphans – to the colonies.

The trip aboard ship was punishing. Passengers were packed into filthy and foul-smelling quarters without adequate food or drinking water for 2 to 3 months. Many did not survive the wretched voyage; many of those who did reached shore ill or infirm.

Once in America, hardship and deprivation were the norm. Despite favorable chances for acquiring land or otherwise earning a living, many who came did not escape poverty or the other social ills that plagued them in the Old World.

Early on, conditions in the colonies led to tight-knit communities. Neighborly aid sufficed.

As the population increased, the problem of dependency grew. By that time, many indigent colonists were about, especially in the burgeoning towns, such as Boston and Philadelphia. For guidance, city fathers turned to the institutional customs of the homeland, and adopted the timbre expressed in the Elizabethan Poor Law. Colonial poor laws were not only patterned after the Elizabethan legislation, they often retained many of its specific provisions. Taking care of the impotent was a civic duty; for the remainder of the indigent there was scant relief. There was little sympathy for “sturdy beggars.”

For those who indulge in idleness, the express command of God unto us is that we should let them starve. ~ New England Puritan minister Cotton Mather

In marked contrast to British-American resort to Elizabethan practice was the experience in New Amsterdam: the Dutch settlement on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, established in 1609. The Dutch colony set up an ecclesiastical system of poor relief: voluntary collections distributed to the needy. When the colony came under English rule in 1664, its relief policies morphed to the English pattern: public assistance paid for through compulsory taxation.

In the early republic, American local governments provided public aid to the needy determined worthy. As immigration and urbanization grew in the late 18th and early 19th century, so too the burden of welfare, given as “outdoor relief.” It became a major public policy concern.

However begrudgingly given, the system of public aid was too culturally ingrained to be abolished. New York’s Secretary of State, John Yates, who would have liked to be done with welfare, remarked in 1824: “The total want of a pauper system would be inconsistent with a humane, liberal, and enlightened policy,” as well perhaps civil tranquility.

By the early 19th century, the general attitude toward the poor had hardened. Poverty was no longer seen as a misfortune, as Elizabethans had, but as an individual weakness. Rather than individuals in need, stereotypes dominated the public mind. In the midst of the country’s worst depression to date (1821), the New York Society for the Prevention of Pauperism declared: “No man who is temperate, frugal, and willing to work need suffer or become a pauper for want of employment.” On the source of poverty, the New York Human Society reported that “misery is ordained to be the companion and the punishment of vice.” Nowhere was the mention of economic cause.

In the early 19th century, outdoor relief went indoors, as states set up poorhouses. The authorities hoped that forcing people those who wanted relief into poorhouses would act as a deterrent. Poorhouses failed in the states’ intended effect. Indeed, they proved considerably more expensive, and the numbers seeking relief rose.

For decades, poorhouses were waystations for young, able-bodied men between jobs, orphanages for children, hospitals for the mentally ill, hospices for the indigent elderly, and occasional hostels for unmarried pregnant young women.

Poorhouses were atrocious places: dirty, disorderly dens of disease with forlorn food and indifferent, if not cruel, keepers. A New York state legislative committee reported in 1850: “common domestic animals are usually more humanely provided for than the paupers in some of these institutions.”

As the 19th century progressed, states removed more and more inmates from poorhouses, dispatching them to separate institutions, or tossing them onto the streets, especially able-bodied men. By the early 20th century, poorhouses were mostly public old-age homes. Despite the construction of poorhouses and a constant barrage of criticism from all corners, many more people still received outdoor rather than indoor relief.

Reformers hopes that private charity might relieve the state for the worthy poor proved illusory, and they found that people could not do without outdoor relief for long.

By the 2nd decade of the 20th century, even opponents recognized welfare as a necessity. The debate shifted from justification to administration.

It makes little or no difference to me whether the victims of this economic depression are suffering from a situation caused by the failure of industrial and financial leadership or lack of statesmanship in this country, or whether men and women are suffering from some act of God. The suffering is just as acute and the victims are as much in need of relief in the one case as in the other. ~ US Senator Robert La Follette Jr. in 1930

Not all Republicans were as sensible or sensitive as La Follette. President Herbert Hoover exemplified the callousness that would come to characterize Republicans in the 21st century. In the jaws of a collapsed economy, Hoover approved in December 1930 a congressional appropriation of $45 million to feed the stricken livestock of Arkansas farmers, but opposed an additional $25 million to feed starving farmers and their families. To Hoover, livestock represented business on the hoof, whereas people were cattle that could fend for themselves. (Hoover, a lifelong Quaker and an ostensibly intelligent man, garnered a reputation as a humanitarian by leading international relief efforts during World War 1. An inconsistency in compassion is common in modern American Christian conservatives.)

The United States was the only industrialized country that entered the Great Depression with no coherent welfare state in place. The New Deal was the first time that the federal government provided outdoor welfare, the thrust of which was to alleviate household unemployment by creating government jobs. At its peak, federal works programs employed nearly 1/4th of the work force.

President Franklin Roosevelt had authorized federal relief only as an emergency measure: to avoid mass starvation and avert bankruptcy by state and local governments. FDR was no socialist. He favored private enterprise and shared the conventional view that welfare eroded the will to work and bred dependence. Roosevelt’s main aim with welfare was to sap the surging support for socialism throughout the country.

Whereas FDR is wrongly remembered as the founder of the American welfare state, its unacknowledged boldest reformer was President Richard Nixon, who in 1969 introduced a “negative income tax”: in effect, a guaranteed minimum income for all. Congress shot it down, and the idea was never revived in that nation, despite continuing dissatisfaction with the welfare system.

The great issue concerning family and child welfare in the United States is the issue of family income. For generations social thinkers have argued that there is such a thing as a minimum necessary family income, and that no family should be required to subsist on less. It is a simple idea, but profound in its consequences.

Our task is not only to lift people out of poverty, but from the standpoint of the child to erase the stigma of welfare and illegitimacy and apartness – to restore pride and dignity and self-respect. ~ Richard Nixon

In the wake of welfare state anathema by the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations, and inspired by the curmudgeonly spirit of the electorate, the Clinton administration in the 1990s shifted anti-poverty policies and social-welfare benefits from a system of guaranteed income support to a work-based safety net. Only food stamps kept millions of Americans from starvation.

The safety net for low-income families with children has transformed from one subsidizing out-of-work families into one subsidizing in-work families. ~ American economists Hilary Hoynes & Marianne Bitler

The 1996 welfare act scuppered benefits. One way states could meet federal work requirements was by shrinking their welfare rolls, whether those who lost their benefits had found a job or not.

Cash welfare became much harder to come by. Before the 1996 reform, 68% of families in poverty benefited. After, the figure dropped to 28%. Employment among single mothers rose sharply, as putting food on the table trumped childcare. That bodes ill for neglected children out of economic necessity.

It’s truly amazing that more welfare workers aren’t killed; the torment so many of them inflict would break the patience of anyone whose life wasn’t on the line. ~ American social worker Theresa Funiciello

◊ ◊ ◊

The social safety net for older Americans has been shrinking for the past couple decades. For an increasing number of older Americans, their golden years are fraught with economic risks, the result of which is often bankruptcy. ~ American sociologist Deborah Thorne et al in 2018

◊ ◊ ◊

There is no rational, uniform method for qualifying for welfare. ~ Theresa Funiciello

The US now has over 80 federal welfare programs, with scant attention to compatibility, and without agencies’ cooperating in administration. Each program – whether food stamps, housing subsidies, or Medicare – has its own eligibility rules.

As low-earners’ incomes increase, benefits are withdrawn in a hodgepodge manner. As a result, the marginal tax rate jumps about erratically; sometimes exceeding 100% – which perversely means that workers may be better off earning less.

The American welfare state resembles a massive watch that fails to keep very accurate time. ~ American historian Michael Katz

Welfare has the demonstrated ability to reduce poverty, but only if well administered. On this count, the US welfare state clearly is not working.

Americans live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies. ~ the United Nations in 2018

In 2015, nearly half of American children lived in poverty. Impoverished American youth are the poorest in the developed world.

Over 90% of the adults on welfare are women with children. Children are poor because their mothers are poor. ~ Theresa Funiciello

◊ ◊ ◊

The persistence of poverty is a political choice made by those in power. ~ the United Nations

The Trump administration took governmental assistance to the needy to a new low: denying that America even had a poverty problem. Trump’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, took umbrage to the UN releasing a scathing report on the vast extent of poverty in the US.

It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America. ~ American UN Ambassador Nikki Haley

Successive American administrations, including the current one, have determinedly rejected the idea that economic and social rights are full-fledged human rights, despite their clear recognition in key treaties that the United States has ratified. The United States is alone among developed countries in insisting that, while human rights are of fundamental importance, they do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying from a lack of access to affordable health care, or growing up in a context of total deprivation. Punishing and imprisoning the poor is the distinctively American response to poverty in the 21st century. ~ the United Nations in 2018


Homelessness illustrates how expensive ‘free enterprise’ really is. The American jobs market was slow to recover from the 2008 Great Recession. Though wages did not pick up, official employment figures did. By the spring of 2018, the federal labor department was crowing how the American economy was at full employment, despite 37% of working-age adults not having a job.

Corporate profits were brimming while the number of homeless was surging: growing an estimated 15% from 2016 to 2017. As the same time the economy was supposedly fully employed, nearly 1 million Americans were homeless: 15% chronically so. 8% were veterans who had valiantly served their country. 50% of the US homeless population is over 50 years of age. 25–30% of the homeless are 24 years old or younger; many are children, doomed to a life of destitution.

The increase in poverty since the Great Recession made the poor more visible. Local civic leaders responded to resident complaints by criminalizing homelessness, including such poverty practices as loitering, sleeping in vehicles or in public view (camping), begging, and panhandling. Such laws are rolled back only when challenged for violating the constitution: the rights of free speech, assembly, and due process (1st, 4th, & 14th amendments). Meanwhile, attaching a criminal record to the poor only heaps on further oppression: making getting a job or housing even harder.

San Francisco is now a cruel place and a divided one. The rich are richer. The homeless are more desperate. ~ American writer Rebecca Solnit in 2018

In 2015, Seattle, Washington declared a state of emergency over the homeless. In the 2 years that followed, the number of homeless students in the city’s public schools tripled.

In 2018, Seattle passed a per-employee surcharge tax on big businesses in the city to help fund support for the homeless. Unsurprisingly, Seattle-based corporations, including Amazon and Starbucks, fought the measure, which got whittled down to half of what was first proposed. Less than a month after passage, facing intense pressure from wealthy corporations, the city council repealed the tax.

There’s a bargaining power problem here, and cities are on the wrong side of it. ~ American tax policy analyst Matthew Gardner

Basic Income

No one should be compelled to work, and those who choose not to work should receive a bare livelihood and be left completely free. ~ English philosopher Bertrand Russell

Abu Bakr was the father-in-law of Islamic prophet Muhammad, and the first openly declared Muslim outside Muhammad’s immediate family. Commonly known as The Truthful, Bakr succeeded Muhammad as caliph; a reign that lasted only 2 years (632–634) owing to death from illness. In his short tenure, Bakr introduced a basic income to each man, woman, and child.

In Europe, with the advent of the Renaissance, the task of welfare for the poor stopped being regarded as the sole preserve of the church and charitable persons. English humanist Thomas More suggested in 1516 that a state-provided basic income might deter theft.

Petty larceny isn’t bad enough to deserve the death penalty. And no penalty on Earth will stop people from stealing, if it’s their only way of getting food. ~ Thomas More

More’s close friend and fellow humanist Juan Luis Vives worked out a detailed plan for a basic income program suited to the poor. He suggested his program to the mayor of Bruges in 1526.

Even those who have dissipated their fortunes in dissolute living should be given food, for no one should die of hunger. However, smaller rations and more irksome tasks should be assigned to them so that they may be an example to others. Whatever the source of poverty, the poor are expected to work. ~ Juan Luis Vives

French political scientist Nicolas de Condorcet played a prominent role in the French Revolution. The political worm turned after Condorcet favored mercy for the king, and he himself was sentenced to death for such empathy.

While in hiding, Condorcet wrote a political history – Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind (1794) – which was published posthumously. Its last chapter sketched social insurance and how it could relieve financial insecurity, inequality, and poverty.

Under Condorcet’s system, payments by the public went into a pool which paid out to those in need. The pool also served as a pension fund for those old enough to retire.

Condorcet’s schema was similar to public pensions (social security in American parlance), but with broader welfare application. Condorcet’s concept inspired Bismarck in his welfare plans and has had lasting influence.

Income from capital is, by implication, ethically legitimate, but the right to income derived from land is morally questionable. ~ Thomas Paine in 1795

Following the concept of natural law – that the Earth is common property of all humanity – Thomas Paine advocated a basic income for all. He argued that every landowner “owes to the community a ground-rent for the land which he holds; and it is from this ground-rent that the fund proposed in this plan is to issue.”

Paine’s payment of ground-rent is intended to compensate the landless for deprivation of their natural inheritance, and to relieve poverty and wretchedness. Paine insisted that this is “a right, and not a charity”; one that is universal and unconditional.

Napoléon Bonaparte echoed Paine’s sentiments, commenting that “man is entitled by birthright to a share of the Earth’s produce sufficient to fill the needs of his existence.”

A number of 19th century reformers, including Englishman William Cobbett (1827), American Samuel Read Hall (1829), and Englishman Poulet Scrope (1833) promulgated welfare as an essential property right.

One of the most famous to advocate a basic income was French philosopher Charles Fourier, a radical whom Marx contemptuously derided as a “utopian socialist.” Fourier argued that private property was a violation of the fundamental right of everyone to reap Nature’s bounty, and so “civilization” owed subsistence to anyone unable to meet basic needs.

Influenced by Fourier, Belgian writer Joseph Charlier proposed an unconditional minimum income in the late 19th century. Such a scheme, he trumpeted, would end “the domination of capital over labor.” Addressing the problem of encouraging indolence, Charlier remarked:

Hard luck for the lazy: they will be put on short allowance. Society’s duty does not reach beyond securing each a fair share of the enjoyment of what Nature puts at his disposal, without usurping anyone’s rights. ~ Joseph Charlier

English political theorist George Cole updated the natural law ethos for basic income in arguing that technological progress augured for a “social dividend.”

Current productive power is a joint result of current effort and of social heritage; all citizens should share in the yield of this common heritage. ~ George Cole in 1935

In 1942, English economist William Beveridge proposed a minimum income tied to a broader program of unified child benefits and social insurance. His concept prevailed in Britain over simpler unconditional basic income plans. The idea soon spread to other European countries.

Then came the concept of unnatural law, whereupon a basic income could be construed as a societal necessity, as men may have no means of employment in a market economy. In 1964, following Cole’s lead with a twist, English economist James Meade proposed a basic income to all, owing to technological progress reducing the demand for labor so much that wages would fall to intolerable lows.

In a world where computers can suddenly make a profession uneconomic, those who have worked hard cannot be certain of a decent standard of living. Of course, the same argument could have been made for those whose livelihoods were taken by machines during the age of industrialization. And it is rather surprising that Cole had not thought of this angle, given the rampant unemployment in 1935.

Attempting a cleaner sweep of poverty, American economist Milton Friedman, known for his laissez-faire beliefs, wanted to replace the complicated US welfare state with a simpler system: combining a flat tax with a guaranteed minimum income. The idea resonated in America.

The simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1968, 1,200 economists, including James Tobin, Paul Samuelson, and John Kenneth Galbraith, endorsed basic income, and called on the US Congress to enact it. Nixon’s negative income tax proposal came on its heels, to the reception of a callous Congress.

In the early 1970s, the state of Alaska experienced a financial boon from a glut of oil found in Prudhoe Bay. A state fund was established in 1976 to provide an annual dividend to every resident.

France implemented a minimum-income program in 1988. Some Dutch cities are experimenting with the idea. Finland started a trial program in 2017.


Poverty is the worst form of violence. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

After centuries of attack on the perpetual problem of poverty, its wellspring has too often gone unremarked: the inchoate economics of capitalism which political regimes succor. Underlying the rationale for basic income is the fact that the capitalist system has no capability for providing full employment. Workers are mere inputs, of which a minimal number are desirable for production, as they represent nothing but a cost.

Ideally, a welfare state balances the desire to keep people from penury while not letting them drift into lives of indolence and despair. Such insurance has proved impossible to implement in market economies.

Given a regime where the disadvantaged stay that way, every child needing welfare is a generational perpetuation of hopelessness. (The related issue of limiting breeding is much thornier.)

The piecemeal welfare states that exist are symptomatic of the failure of humanity to supply itself with a rational system for existence. With regard to welfare, the result has been deplorable social injustice, wasted human potential, and untold personal tragedy, as well as grift and other corruption. The only truly workable solution, which is explored in the next chapter, is a unified system of life that provides dignity for, and demands responsibility from, every member of society.

Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained. ~ American author Helen Keller