What is the welfare state for?
A perfectly reasonable question. For William Beveridge, architect of the British welfare state, it was about eradicating "want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness". For him, as for David Cameron this week, the central dilemma was the potential contradiction between two of those "giant evils", namely want and idleness. How do you provide "cradle-to-grave" wrap-around care to banish forever the shocking poverty Beveridge had witnessed during the Great Depression, without encouraging a minority to swing the lead? How do you help the needy without undermining work incentives among the merely slothful?
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