Re: Didn't need no welfare state

Date: Fri Apr 28 2000 - 07:18:40 MDT

In a message dated 4/23/00 12:00:13 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

> > > One comedian had the best idea I have ever heard. Make inmates peddle
> bikes
> > > all day and night to provide electricity for the whole nation. No one
> will
> > > ever want to go back after ten years of that.
> >
> > Ironically, this is precisely what was proposed by Jeremy Bentham, the
> > "godfather" of "liberal progressivism".
> One of the founding fathers of Utilitarianism.
> > His ideal prison and "work house"
> > plan called for prisoners and the indigent to work treadmills to produce
> > power for industry (c. late 18th, early 19th century, when the idea was
> > conceived). I believe the ideas was actually tried. As it turned out,
> > Bentham's plans produced disastrous results.
> Not that I'm for this whole idea, but what were the "disastrous results"?

The reform of the "Poor Laws" along Benthamite lines in the 1830s was one of
the first great acts of "social engineering" and counts as the first modern
instance of "welfare reform". Bentham's master plan for work houses was
instituted, with every aspect of the daily life of their inmates regulated

One of the fundamental premises of Bentham's theory was that the standard of
life in the poor houses should be below that of the lowest-paid workers in
the general economy, to produce an incentive to work. That standard was so
low that the poor houses became hellish prison camps. Fortunately, attacks
against them on humanitarian and constitutional grounds soon swept them away.
 The failure of the Benthamite poor houses counts as one of the earliest
failures of centralized technocratic social engineering. (See "Cities in
Civilization", Sir Peter Hall, pp. 675-83)

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
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        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
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