What is this French philosopher talking about?

Born in 1945 in post-war Britain, the welfare state met its end in Britain this month, when the chancellor George Osborne repudiated the concept of the \”universal benefit\”, the idea that everyone, not just the poor, should benefit from social protection.


If the rich become ill they can use the NHS, if the middle classes get old they get a pension, if the wealthy become unemployed they get dole.

What\’s he talking about that social protection doesn\’t extend to everyone now?

Indeed, even America\’s smaller welfare state seems aimed at the middle class more than at the poor, with the so-called earned income tax credit being the biggest handout. Every year, 24 million middle-class American families get a refund from the internal revenue service. Those below the poverty line do not receive cash, but only in-kind support.

And what sort of cretinism is this? The EITC most certainly is paid to those below the poverty line. Indeed, one estimate is that that very EITC raises 5 million households up over the poverty line.

Sure, if you\’re not in work you don\’t get the EITC but this is hardly a surprise: note the name \”earned income\”.

And yes there is cash welfare in the US as well, over and above food stamps, Section 8 housing vouchers, Medicaid and so on as in-kind support.

It would seem that this French philosopher is waffling on a subject where he is ill informed….but then I repeat myself.

3 thoughts on “What is this French philosopher talking about?”

  1. I found this very strange:

    In France, it has been demonstrated that the middle class spends more per capita on its health than the 20% of the poorest French do. As a consequence, the national healthcare scheme actually provides a net benefit for the average income earner.

    Okay – so being an “average income earner” now makes you middle-class? Okay, let’s accept that as a typical French perversion of proper society. But ‘rich people spend more per capita than poor people on x’ is no insight.

    It might be surprising, and even newsworthy, if it was the otherway around for any significant ‘x’ or where there are significant %age differences in spending patterns but? Even if ‘x’ is a government funded service.

  2. Depends what you mean by ‘social protection’ too. I would interpret ‘social protection’ to mean the safety net – what you get when it goes pear-shaped and you don’t have a job or a business or whatever.

    And by definition everyone benefits from that, even if it is means-tested so it’s only available to the poor..because you only use it if and when you become poor.

    Similarly, fire insurance benefits everyone who buys it, even though it only pays out to people whose houses have been on fire.

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