18 February 2007

Entrenching welfare

One in three households across Britain is now dependent on the state for at least half its income, it emerged today. Official government figures showed that more than seven million households are getting most of their income from government handouts. Source
Sure government is generally inefficient and ineffective, but so are large corporations and almost any large organisation of any sort. And it’s probably not healthy that so many households do depend on the welfare state for so much of their income. But worse in my view is that such dependence becomes entrenched. It is, in fact, dependence. Like a drug habit, welfare programmes are easy to start and very difficult to end. And I don’t mean just the benefits that go to needy households, but also those far more sumptuous welfare payments – also known as subsidies, or import barriers – that flow into the coffers of large business corporates. It’s very rare that their provisions contain effective sunset clauses. The payments help fund the lobbyists that oppose their removal. Other beneficiaries are the programme administrators: another effective resistance force against policy reform.

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