Den meisten Politikern und vielen Wissenschaftlern gelten Wohlfahrtsstaaten als sehr positive moderne Errungenschaft, die vor allem Armen zu gute kommt. James Bartholomew kommt auf Grundlage einer umfassenden Analyse des britischen Sozialsystems, das deutlich weniger entwickelt ist als das deutsche, zu einem ganz anderen Ergebnis. Wohlfahrtsstaaten nutzen den Armen nicht, sie schaden ihnen:
“The welfare state and the poor The poor have suffered the most. This will seem a bizarre assertion to many. The welfare state was created to look after the poor. But again and again, the truth of this has emerged in previous chapters.
The poor are the ones who have ended up with the worst schools and the worst healthcare. The poor now find it much more difficult to see a consultant than sixty years ago. There was no consultant shortage then. The poor, not the rich, have been induced by the welfare state not to save, not to marry and to divorce or separate if they have married. The poor have been similarly led to unemployment. The children of the poor are consequently more likely to have suffered from broken parenting, more likely to have become alienated and to have turned to crime. Because the poor tend to live amongst each other, they are also more likely to be the victims of the vastly increased crime. The poorest tenth now often live in ghettos, leading lives without hope or dignity. Their character has tended to change in a way that causes unhappiness to others – generally other poor people – and no satisfaction to themselves.
Some people may feel ‘surely there are some things that the welfare stat has done well? Certainly, it is true that a proportion of children have been well educated, many have been well treated by the NHS, thousands have been given pleasant homes and so on. But we are not comparing the welfare state with an imaginary world in which no other kind of welfare existed. We are not comparing state provision against zero provision. Any sensible argument of the welfare state compares it against the welfare provisions which would have existed if the state had not intervened. It is on that basis that the welfare state has failed so thoroughly” (Bartolomew, The welfare state we’re in, pp.340-341)