[Paleopsych] the welfare state
he at psychology.su.se
Thu Nov 25 16:22:29 UTC 2004
Living in a welfare state myself I have a few comments.
First, we have to distinguish different groups. One group consists of
people who cannot help themselves: mentally ill, retarded,
alcoholics, junkies, etc.
To be brutal: I don't want to see them running around on the street and perish.
But also as a fellowman I want to help them, not privately but by
gladly paying taxes.
Second: The welfare state's intention is to redistribute your (own)
income over your life cycle. An example: You get paid a certain
amount for every child (from your taxes) as long as children are dear
(in more than one meaning); when they are grown up and do not cost
anymore your taxes are considered a repayment. This is valid for all
citizens, though no personal humiliation. It works automatically.
Sickness is something similar; you pay only a part of the costs of
visits to physicians and medicines. However, as a healthy individual
you can earn money and pay taxes, so the government (i.e., the
taxpayers) may make a profit.
Finally there is a group whose income does not cover their living
expenses, or people who cannot handle money. Again, part of them may
have gotten into some kind of trouble, say having become a victim to
a fraud, and need some monetary help. For them there is another kind
of social welfare; they have to ask the pertinent authority in person
with all the entailing humiliation. But this is only a small part of
the Swedish welfare state.
But there is some trouble ahead. Many young people (according to
interviews) don't place work as central in their lives as their
parents and grandparents did. And many people claim to be sick when
just feeling bad (not an outright cheat) which raises the amount of
costs to unbearable high levels.
We shall see how the welfare state will develop. As yet cannot Sweden
be compared to the pre-Thatcher UK as Lynn Johnson described it.
I may add: when I was about ten years old I thought it a shame to
work for money--note: not to work in itself, but to earn money for a
Prof. Hannes Eisler
Department of Psychology
S-106 91 Stockholm
e-mail: he at psychology.su.se
fax : +46-8-15 93 42
phone : +46-8-163967 (university)
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