Alas, the ‘unimaginative’ also happen to be the ones who run the world:
Having seen the impact of the Great Depression, it must have been unimaginable to Beveridge that anyone would choose to live on benefit in preference to being in work. Given the ethos of the age, it was not just wishful thinking to assert that the state should not stifle incentive or responsibility.
Society today is very different. Stigma has been abolished. To live on benefits has become a lifestyle choice. In many families there is no memory of anyone working. Ours is a culture of entitlement, a word coined to minimise shame and maximise claiming. As a result, taxpayers have spent £346 billion on payments to those out of work since Tony Blair entered No 10.
At least in America the destructive advance of welfare has been questioned and slowed because most Americans still have an antipathy for government intervention in people’s lives.
Also, for many poor Americans religious faith has sustained their sense of purpose and self-esteem.
In Britain — maybe throughout western Europe — belief in work, vocation, community, family and God have declined together. Being workless and feeling worthless often go together. For a large group of people today, life has no goals. At best, the unrealisable hope of winning the lottery or appearing on Big Brother has supplanted the traditional appetite for qualifications and careers.