Criticisms of welfare
The notion, and the extent of, the modern welfare state
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

 has been criticised on both economic and social grounds, from both the Left and the Right of the political spectrum.

Libertarian & Conservative criticisms

In his book, The Servile State
The Servile State
The Servile State is a book written by Hilaire Belloc in 1912 about economics. Although it mentions Distributism, for which he and his friend G. K...

, English political writer Hilaire Belloc
Hilaire Belloc
Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc was an Anglo-French writer and historian who became a naturalised British subject in 1902. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, satirist, man of letters and political activist...

 makes his case for the natural instability of pure capitalism and discusses how (as he believes) attempts to reform capitalism will lead almost inexorably to an economy where state regulation has removed the freedom of capitalism and thereby replaced capitalism with what he calls the Servile State. According to Belloc, the Servile State shares with ancient slavery the fact that positive law
Positive law
Positive law is the term generally used to describe man-made laws which bestow specific privileges upon, or remove them from, an individual or group...

 (as opposed to custom or economic necessity by themselves) dictates that certain people will work for others, who likewise must take care of them. Ergo, according to Belloc, the welfare state may lead to a kind of serfdom
Serfdom is the status of peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to Manorialism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted to the mid-19th century...

 where one group works to support another group that does not work.

Some conservatives
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 in the UK claim that the welfare state has produced a generation of dependents who, instead of working, rely solely upon the state for income and support; even though assistance is only legally available to those unable to work. The welfare state in the UK was created to provide certain people with a basic level of benefits in order to alleviate poverty, but that as a matter of opinion has been expanded to provide a larger number of people with more money than the country can ideally afford.

Some feel that this argument is demonstrably false: the benefits system in the UK provides individuals with considerably less money than the national minimum wage, although people on welfare often find that they qualify for a variety of benefits, including benefits in-kind, such as accommodation costs which usually make the overall benefits much higher than basic figures show.

Socialist & Anarchist criticisms

Marxists argue that welfare states and modern social democratic policies limit the incentive system of the market by providing things such as minimum wages, unemployment insurance, taxing profits and reducing the reserve army of labor, resulting in capitalists having little incentive to invest; in essence, social welfare policies cripple the capitalist system and its incentive system, and the only real solution to the issues of capitalism is its replacement with a socialist economic system
Socialist economics
Socialist economics are the economic theories and practices of hypothetical and existing socialist economic systems.A socialist economy is based on public ownership or independent cooperative ownership of the means of production, wherein production is carried out to directly produce use-value,...


The most extreme criticisms of states
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 and governments are made by anarchists
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

, who believe that all states and governments are undesirable and/or unnecessary. Some socialist anarchists believe that while social welfare gives a certain level of independency from the market and individual capitalists, it creates dependence to the state, which is the institution that, according to this view, supports and protects capitalism in the first place. Nonetheless, according to Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

, "social democrats and anarchists always agreed, fairly generally, on so-called 'welfare state measures'" and "Anarchists propose other measures to deal with these problems, without recourse to state authority." Some socialist anarchists believe in stopping welfare programs only if it means abolishing government and capitalism as well.

See also

  • Welfare culture
    Welfare culture
    Welfare culture refers to the behavioral consequences of providing poverty relief to low-income individuals. Welfare is considered a type of social protection, which may come in the form of remittances, such as ‘welfare checks’, or subsidized services, such as free/reduced healthcare, affordable...

  • Culture of entitlement
    Culture of entitlement
    Culture of entitlement is a concept meant to encapsulate the social or economic beliefs that a government, usually through entitlement programs, should provide access to goods or services such as employment opportunities or health care at no additional cost to its tax payers...

  • Pensions crisis
    Pensions crisis
    The pensions crisis is a predicted difficulty in paying for corporate, state and federal pensions in the U.S. and Europe, due to a difference between pension obligations and the resources set aside to fund them. Shifting demographics are causing a lower ratio of workers per retiree, while retirees...

  • Nanny state
    Nanny state
    A nanny state is the perception of a situation characterised by governmental policies of over-protectionism, economic interventionism, or heavy regulation of economic, social or other nature....

  • Welfare fraud
    Welfare fraud
    Welfare fraud refers to various intentional misuses of state welfare systems by withholding information or giving false or inaccurate information. This may be done in small, uncoordinated efforts, or in larger, organized criminal rings...

  • Benefit fraud
    Benefit fraud
    Benefit fraud is a form of welfare fraud as found within the system of government benefits paid to individuals by the UK welfare state.- What is benefit fraud? :...

  • Welfare queen
    Welfare queen
    A welfare queen is a pejorative phrase used in the United States to describe people who are accused of collecting excessive welfare payments through fraud or manipulation. Reporting on welfare fraud began during the early 1960s, appearing in general interest magazines such as Readers Digest...

  • Limited government
    Limited government
    Limited government is a government which anything more than minimal governmental intervention in personal liberties and the economy is generally disallowed by law, usually in a written constitution. It is written in the United States Constitution in Article 1, Section 8...

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