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'Contra' Welfare State

As early as in the initial stages of public debates on the welfare state, its opponents argued that this concept put restrictions on the market and was therefore harmful for national economies. It allegedly restricted investment opportunities and discouraged people from finding employment or working as hard as required by circumstances. Another line of argument focused on the disproportionally high taxes and the augmentation of state bureaucracy, which de-stimulated economic development. Hayek (1960) opposed the idea of wealth redistribution as well as the more even distribution of welfare ensured by the welfare state. In his opinion, redistribution was discriminatory and incompatible with the principles of free society. Such a practice, suggests Hayek (1960, 257), 'is bound to lead back to socialism and its coercive and essentially arbitrary methods'. Hayek saw a danger in the restriction of freedom legislated in the name of equality. In his view, the transfer of the power of intervention to the state made it susceptible to abuse, because the state alone decided where to intervene and what to label as a threat to equality. According to Hayek (1960, 258), by organizing the services such as health care, education or social services, the state was primarily shaping a person 'according to its own measure'.

Hayek's argument is based on the assumption of the invisible hand of the

market and the iron fist of the state, which was further reinforced by contemporary
neoclassical (neoliberal) economists. The free market implies freedom from regulations and interventions organized and implemented by the state. However, the free market can operate only if individual freedom is reduced to freedom of choice excluding freedom of work (Salecl 2010). The free market is primarily threatened by collectivisms that determine the scope and quantity of the common good, that is, that which can be enjoyed by everyone without restrictions. In order for the free market to operate, it is precisely this idea that needs to be dismantled in the way that the right to freedom of choice replaces all other (hard-won) rights. Consequently, the role of the state needs to be reshaped according to the principle of the iron fist (Wacquant 2011). Put differently, the state's role should consist of inventing an apparatus that punishes wrong choices. Since the welfare state liberated people from the conditions dictated by the market, it understandably became the target of neoliberal theorists, among them Murray and Mead.

Murray (1982, 12) studied employment in relation to social rights. He argued that the welfare state, by ensuring income, enables people to refuse jobs or not commit themselves completely to finding a job. From this perspective, the welfare state is a deviation from the free market system; it creates pathologies and alters the traditional social organization in which people could earn their livelihoods without the state's intervention. Mead (1991) went even further and claimed that the problem faced by poor people is caused by their behaviour and the personal characteristics they have developed under the protection of the welfare state. His term for this is the policy of dependence, allegedly preventing non-workers (he does not use the term unemployed ) from entering employment. He likened non-workers to dysfunctional people characterized by crime, lack of education, homelessness and other similar so-called pathologies, and attributed poverty solely to the fact that poor people were unemployed and did not try to find jobs. Therefore, he proposed structural reforms that would eliminate paternalism in the form of the welfare state.

Although it seems that the opponents of the welfare state are most worried about the economy, the debates show that it is the society that they aim to change in order for the market to function. It is necessary to create circumstances in which subsistencedependsonlabourandnotonstatecashbenefits. Thedecommodification effect of the welfare state enables people to live without having to sell their labour on the market for any price and under any conditions (Esping-Andersen 1990). In contrast to this, the free market is better off if it is not regulated to maximize profit. To do this, it needs a cheaper and more flexible workforce, which is possible only if the state withdraws from regulation. Fraud-focused discourse can be described as a strategy of subordinating people to the free market principles, since its main goals are to reduce the number of people who exercise their social rights and to increase the size of the cheap labour force. The most important characteristic is therefore a link between work and livelihood.


 
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