Agency And Its Enemies
May 20, 2021
The more problems they made for themselves, the more they were rewarded [by the welfare state]. We had a peculiar demoralisation… I mean, an actual removal of morality from all human consideration.
I remember, I had a patient with multiple sclerosis, and her husband worked, but he didn’t earn a lot of money, and they needed some adjustments to their house so that she could get out of the house more easily and so on. It seemed to me this was a place where the welfare state could actually help. So, I phoned a social worker… and I made a grave mistake. I said, “I have a particularly deserving case…” And there was a stony silence on the other end. And then the social worker said that all cases were deserving. In other words, you couldn’t distinguish between this case of need, which was nobody’s fault, and someone who took drugs and set fire to his house in a state of intoxication. There was no difference.
And since, of course, people who behave badly become more needy, they actually gain more attention and more sympathy. If you remove desert from all considerations, this means that one source of meaning in life is completely removed.
Jordan Peterson interviews Theodore Dalrymple.
Plenty to chew on and at times darkly funny. Regarding the quote above, this isn’t entirely unrelated.
Update, via the comments, another snippet:
I was trying to persuade intellectuals that a lot of their world outlook was bad and was doing harm rather than good. So that the destruction of the family, which rich people can perhaps survive, is devastating for people who need social solidarity more than anybody else.
At which point, this came to mind.