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Sunday, 14 May 2017

US evangelist Lawrence Mead's 'work makes you free' impact on UK welfare reform policies

Lawrence M Mead
“In my interviews with state officials [in the US] they did not blink about putting men in prison to enforce a work requirement,” says Lawrence M Mead. Photograph: Graeme Robertson
(Kwug Blog editor apologises for accidental misspelling of Mead's forename in the address for this Web page.)

In a recent Kwug Blog post I referred to my attendance on Monday 8 May at the book launch for Prof. Guy Standing's book, Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen.(1) I now turn briefly to flagging up a reference Guy made to the influence of Lawrence Mead on the ideas and strategies of now former Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron from as far back as 2007.(2)

Mead's overriding message: "Make it harder for people to claim," reported Guy Standing.

This blog post is intended more as a reference source than an 'article'. I shall close it with reference to a blog post I wrote from dire personal experience that the British Broadcasting Corporation never properly reported on but that was far more widespread than the 2007 Blairite Government would have liked to have flagged up: Benefit claimants require firmer safeguards, not tougher sanctions.(3)

Since then, we have had introduction of food stamps as decreed by Lawrence Mead the evangelist of a 'despise thy claimant' theology.(4)

Laurence Mead: "Hitler was non-democratic, whereas work requirements claim a popular mandate."

I close this blog post with the closing paragraphs of the Guardian Society article Does getting tough on the unemployed work?(5)
The key intellectual insight for Mead when he began his assault on the American welfare state was that what changed behaviour was not economic incentives but tough government talking. "It was authoritative statements from people in authority that mattered. We should not [incentivise people] to work. We hope [they will]. We say it because you are supposed to do it, we expect you to do it."

Such sentiments have a whiff of 1930s Germany, something the Twittersphere buzzed with when welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: "Work makes you free" – the same words hung over the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp. "I have faced this accusation," says Mead. "Hitler was non-democratic, whereas work requirements claim a popular mandate. There is something wrong when because of fascism we have to solve every problem with freedom and benefits."
In the wake of another Tory victory, would Theresa May claim a 'popular mandate' for the Gospel according to Lawrence Mead?

"Arbeit macht frei" — the German for
"work makes you free"

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Link references

  1. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/universal-credit-application-processes-bleed-claimants-dry-simplicity-of-basic-income-application-processes-revives.html
  2. https://uk.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=A7x9Ukn3cRhZaEoAKjeP3olQ;_ylc=X1MDMTM1MTIxMjY4NwRfcgMyBGZyA3locy1tb3ppbGxhLTEwMARncHJpZAM4al95U19YelFyV3FyWU1tS0ZqV0ZBBG5fcnNsdAMwBG5fc3VnZwMwBG9yaWdpbgN1ay5zZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tBHBvcwMwBHBxc3RyAwRwcXN0cmwDBHFzdHJsAzUxBHF1ZXJ5AyUyMmxhdXJlbmNlJTIwbWVhZCUyMiUyMCUyMmlhaW4lMjBkdW5jYW4lMjBzbWl0aCUyMgR0X3N0bXADMTQ5NDc3NTIwOQ--?p=%22laurence+mead%22+%22iain+duncan+smith%22&fr2=sb-top-uk.search&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-100&type=newtab
  3. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/benefit-claimants-require-firmer-safegards-not-tougher-sanctions.html 
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/jun/16/lawrence-mead-tough-us-welfare-unemployed
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/jun/16/lawrence-mead-tough-us-welfare-unemployed
  6. https://tse3.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.TXIkYO_C3vKprrqbIq501QEsDB&pid=15.1&P=0&w=241&h=157

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