Thursday, 3 June 2010

The welfare state we're in

"It has been well said that, while we used to suffer from social evils, we now suffer from the remedies for them. The difference is that, while in former times the social evils were gradually disappearing with the growth of wealth, the remedies we have introduced are beginning to threaten the continuance of that growth of wealth on which all future improvement depends. Instead of the 'five giants' which the welfare state of the Beveridge report was designed to combat, we are now raising new giants which may well prove even greater enemies of a decent way of life. Though we may have speeded up a little the conquest of want, disease, ignorance, squalor, and idleness, we may in the future do worse even in that struggle when the chief dangers will come from inflation, paralyzing taxation, coercive labor unions, an ever increasing dominance of government in education, and a social service bureaucracy with far-reaching arbitrary powers - dangers from which the individual cannot escape by his own efforts and which the momentum of the overextended machinery of government is likely to increase rather than mitigate."

Friedrich Hayek, 'The Constitution of Liberty' (first published 1960), from the chapter 'Social Security'.

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