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No Country for Young Children

 No Country for Young Children by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal 4 December 2008.

The single most sickening aspect of modern British society is the fate of children bred to maximise state benefits. The most extreme recent example is the "British Fritzl," who kept his daughters in captivity and raped them over a period of 25 years in order to produce more child benefit. Fritzl is a sick, sadistic pervert. His British equivalent is a lazy, greedy, sick sadistic pervert motivated by the desire to live free on the work of his fellow-citizens.

We are told that one in ten British children is subject to abuse. How can that be? Surely any parent knows that the instinct to nurture and protect one's children is one of the most powerful drives in nature? Yet, case after case demonstrates (as the persistence of property crime had long since proved) that the evil are, in economic terms, "rational actors." They respond to incentives. If you offer farmers subsidies for oilseed rape, the fields turn yellow. If you offer scum subsidies to have children, they will set to breeding with a will.

I don't hold with the sentimental view that everything driven by a desire for money is evil. Money is just a morally-neutral means of exchange. The desire to have it is simply the desire to have more choices in life. But there are some things (and having children is one of them) that should be driven by higher motives.

Police investigating the disappearance of Shannon Matthews found touching notes from the child to her elder brother;

"Do you think we'll get any tea tonight?" ["tea" being what we from oop North call the evening meal] Shannon scribbled in one note. In another she said: "If we're quiet we might get a bag of sweets. Don't talk too loud or get a beating."

These children were helpless prisoners at the mercy of an uncaring woman who did not even remember precisely how many of them she had. What chances in life did they have? Sadly, Shannon and her siblings are not alone. Sadly, they are more than averagely likely to grow up to repeat their appalling mother's lifestyle. Baby P. (another child born for the welfare benefits to his mother) had he lived, was more than averagely likely to grow up to be an abusive parent.

Why would anyone create incentives to motivate those least likely to nurture their children to produce the bulk of the next generation? Who stands to benefit? Not the families themselves. Certainly not the children. Certainly not the wider society that will have to deal with them when they grow up (with hope-inspiring exceptions) to be dysfunctional citizens.

The only beneficiary of this system is the Labour Party, which created it. 

MatthewsThere is a polite convention in British politics that we assume our opponents, however misguided, to be well-intentioned. I know it is a terrible thing to believe anyone capable of deliberately promoting human misery for political profit, but having grown up in the Labour heartlands, I am afraid I do. The greatest threat to the future of the Labour Party is prosperity. Apart from a few tens of thousands of votes from eccentric aristocrats and Guardian-reading, middle-class sentimentalists, Labour depends on the votes of two categories of people; state employees and the poor. It is in the interests of the Labour Party to maximise the numbers of both. Like Karen Matthews, whom it resembles in so many ways, the Labour Party is a "rational actor."


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Roger Thornhill

The foundations were laid in 1908~11 and it took the Parliament Act to force this through, and even then they dropped much of the land reform acts.

What I am going to say is radical and not something I think can be achieved, but is a thought experiment to assist us in how to think about this issue and put it into focus.

We have the idea of the "Chiltern Hundreds", where an MP must resign if they take the State's/Crown's coin, for they have been, effectively, "bought".

In 1908 laws were passed allowing people who earn their living from the State to vote. This is where the problems started. Once you allow vote buying, for that is what it is, the Welfare State as we know it is almost certainly going to happen and far worse will happen thereafter.

Allowing those on benefits or paid by the State to continue to vote is to support vote buying. We can remove many people from State employ, such as Nurses and Teachers if we get a Libertarian Party that will dismantle the State-run monopolies. We will be left with Police, Army, Prisons and some other people such as those in Mental Health and elderly care.

The question is what is the greater wrong? To make as a clause of employment the lack of a vote OR to allow the taxpayer to end up as a form of indentured servant? Democracy is not our end goal, Ladies and Gentlemen, but Rule of Law.

john cramer

Louise you could blame it all on the Romans really with their bread and circuses.


"...This situation didn't spring into being in May 1997..."

No, and neither did Labour. The foundations for the present mess were laid in 1946. The fact that Blair and Brown decided to give the old tank a respray may have fooled you that it was "..New..", Louise. It's the same old same old as far as I am concerned.


'The only beneficiary of this system is the Labour Party, which created it.'

But Labour didn't 'create' this system. They perpetuated but they did not create it. The benefits system we have today existed under the Tories. And, like Labour, the Tories encouraged job centres to shunt people off 'jobseekers' allowance' and onto incapacity benefits. This situation didn't spring into being in May 1997.

Rachel Joyce

linked on my blog too

David Smith

Damn fine post


I wrote 'Watching' about this on the 18 November:

We watch
Reality TV, I'm strictly a celebrity dancing makeover
Hello, OK, he's fat she's thin
Grand wedding, lovely house
The birth of their third beautiful baby, divorce, 'My Breakup Hell'
'Heat' magazine
Truth buried beneath an avalanche of banality
Hopes and aspirations reduced to an appearance on 'X-Factor'
Dreaming just for fifteen minutes transient fame.

They watch
We strut and fret our lives upon a CCTV stage
One camera per 14, Big Brother omnipresent
Databases, ID Cards, your papers citizen?
Our digital existences, our lives left on trains by mandarins
USB keys with 10 million records
e-CAF, ANPR, Echelon
Your life linked, indexed, searchable
Tracked from day to day, our footsteps never fading
A never-ending data trail for those who wish to rule.

We watch
A Benefits culture, I've got rights, I'm entitled
Council flat, giro, Sky TV
The intellectual destruction of a generation
No brain required
Core curriculum, no place for thought
Can't read, can't write, but still a Uni place to meet targets
No prison spaces, criminals get certificates
Beat a baby to death, get your own name protected
No such thing as justice any more
Hard work is the only crime, your punishment taxation.

We speak
Enough banality, an end to soundbite
Our duties, our responsibilities, our consequences
Our right to privacy, we will not be logged
Taxation to provide a safety net, not a security blanket
To teach our kids to think and to find truth
No Government required
The reconstitution of responsibility and the right to do what's right.



Thanks to all for the kind comments and links. Prodicus, I have tested my feed in Safari and Google Reader and it seems to be working now. If you want to try adding it manually it's "feed://" I would be honoured to have you as a subscriber.

Damo Mackerel

What a very good article. So true and so sad.


Your rss feed does not seem to be working. I would like to sub but can't. Help!


A very well written post. I can't disagree with a word of it. How very sad.

Linked on my blog.


A well observed, and rarely expressed, comment on the appalling mess the UK is in. Will link to this from my blog, if you don't mind?


I was going to make much the same comment this morning, but you have said exactly what I would have, will just cross reference to you

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