Whatever Happened to the Deserving Poor?

They were replaced by entitlement addicts.

So say the guys at Right Angle:

Interestingly, as they point out, Victorian England gave us the concept of the deserving poor. A hundred years later, post-war Britain gave us the horrors of entitlement addiction.

Yes, we have it in America, but Britain’s system is welfare-on-steroids.

And we all only ever meant to do the right thing…another lesson on the Road of Unintended Consequences. God knows where that path will end. Is there anyone (not brain-dead) who believes it terminates in Utopia?

15 thoughts on “Whatever Happened to the Deserving Poor?

  1. While I don’t like the way welfare is encouraging families/single women to have children, often for several generations, I think these guys don’t have any real answers, just complaints.

    I’ve read enough Victorian literature to not have any illusions about how tough that society was. People did starve and die of poverty-induced illnesses.

    So a Victorian woman who ran away from her husband was ‘undeserving’. Not the best example. Marital rape was legal. Beating wives was tolerated. Saying a woman running away from her husband is ‘undeserving’ sounds like sharia law!

    Also, I bet each of these men is anti-abortion. So what are single mothers going to do in their dream society? Beg on the streets? Commit suicide – Gretchentragoedie is just right for them, is it?

  2. **So what are single mothers going to do in their dream society? **

    Not have sex out of wedlock was the gold star option in those days, especially when there was no contraception. It’s still an mega-terrific option. Not for nothing have most cultures placed strong emphasis on marriage. You are assuming that modern attitudes toward casual, premarital sex and casual marriage existed back then.

    We are the ones who promote conduct that guarantees widespread misery that affects hundreds of thousands of other people. Assuming you are correct that Victorians died of starvation and poverty-induced illnesses, examples of which I would like to see, I wonder how that death toll compares to the deaths today from our modern lunacy in subsidizing bastardy and our cowardice that keeps us from stamping out associated pathologies.

    The late, great David Brudnoy on WBZ-AM radio once observed that if you draw a line around any high-crime, urban area it will also enclose the area that has the highest concentration of single mothers. QED.

    I hardly think that women who ran away from their husbands were considered undeserving. Nor do I think they were without options. Settlement houses in Victorian England give the lie to the image of that country as little more than a plot idea for a Steven King novel.

    Here’s an example of the deserving poor:

    I once worked as a welfare worker and a woman came in to apply for disability for her husband. He’d lost a leg in a railroad accident, retrained as a barber through state vocational rehabilitation, then suffered a heart attack. Wife and five children iirc. Intact family. “A scuffler,” said his wife.

    Another person came into apply for an increased benefit because she found out she was pregnant again. A 15-y-o who already had one child. Unmarried. Undeserving. A slut.

    • And you just showed that women will, indeed, get pregnant though you’d like them to “not have sex out of wedlock”.

      So what exactly would you do with that 15 y.o. ‘undeserving slut’ and her children?

      • “They’re still going to do it,” so therefore, we must create a society that caters to their stupidity and lack of control.

        Don’t bother asking the people who DO have control how exactly they acquired that knowledge and ability.

      • The girl as a slut because she was indifferent to the serious responsibilities of parenthood, was happy to get pregnant for an extra pittance from the state, was slovenly in her appearance and behavior, had no grasp of discipline, was uneducated, was incurious, had no ambition, and was indifferent to doing anything to find stability and security within marriage.

        Perhaps you are under the impression that college was in her future but for this unfortunate accident of being impregnated by a future surgeon or rocket scientist.

        You would find my thoughts on how to handle such children most unpleasant, as would that particular girl. Addle-brained liberalism creates such problems and, eventually, when all other ineffectual “solutions” lead only to tidal waves of misery, crime, urban destruction, and hatred of “the system,” normal society will support illiberal methods. The only methods that will work.

        Short of their adoption our absurd subsidizing of bastardy, single-mother dependency on the state, and rampant crime and political unwinding will continue with oceans of compassion as far as the eye can see.

        In this and all other areas the socialist democracies are enervated, feeble, and gutless and effective solutions will only be chosen as a last resort. If then.

        Since this site is not a social work site and I have little interest in this area, I will spare everyone my thoughts on specific solutions to this kind of problem. Our focus needs to be on more pressing matters.

  3. Guest, I absolutely endorse your comments. Bill Whittle and his friends should read Dickens or Kingsley for a reality check on Victorian Britain, or check out Louis Laurent Simonin’s “An Excursion to the Poor Districts of London” (1862, translated and published 2014) for a non-fictional account.

    Colonel, a fifteen-year-old who’s pregnant again is not even legally adult, and to deny her financial aid would endanger the unfortunate children. Also the British family quoted here are the kind who make headlines in the “Daily Mail” etc, but hardly typical of those who need assistance.

    To broaden the discussion, no account is taken here of the dire effects of the Thatcher government’s decision to force local authorities to allow their tenants to buy their homes (built with public money) at knock-down prices, while disallowing said authorities’ using the income to build replacements. The later, supposedly “Labour” administration under Blair failed to repeal the relevant legislation, and of course the Cameron/May administrations have done nothing.

    One result has been that local authorities in London are forcibly rehousing tenants hundreds of miles from their native areas and their support system of relatives and friends, while the unemployment level is often worse in the areas where they end up, reducing their chances of finding work.

    When my (now ex-) wife and I split in 2010, following a violent episode from her, the police took away my keys as the council flat we shared was in her name (I challenged the legality of this decision without success). Because I was officially homeless (friends took me in), (then) 62, and seriously ill, I got my present flat in a “sheltered” block within three months, but I was lucky; the London Borough of Southwark has proportionately more social housing than anywhere else in England.

    I’m not seeking sympathy for myself, but for those less fortunate. Southwark (a Labour council) has since demolished the huge Heygate Estate near here; the replacement (built by a private developer) will have only 20% “affordable” housing (the official minimum set by central government is 25%)- with segregated lifts and stairs! The developers paid the council £55m, the estimated cost to the council of evicting the tenants was £65m; refurbishing the 1970s blocks would have cost £35m. Looks to me like a deal with the devil.

    I daresay you have a decent pension from the military, and quite rightly, but please remember that some (most?) of the poor are “deserving”.

    • Thanks for your comments. I’m going to send them on to Bill Whittle.

      His mistakes demonstrate the old adage about our experiences not being translatable to other cultures. Here, we don’t even have a comparable welfare system. As an outsider, I see the huge class divide in Britain as restrictive of so much potential that could enrich ordinary people. Even the tax burden is amazing to someone outside the UK system. For my purposes, I compare the experience of Australians and Britons. Night and day, mate.

      I remember visits from my relatives in Maidstone, who were fascinated by our diversity and opportunity and the luxury of cheap, plentiful food. My mother was poor enough that the small house she owned in Florida was tax-exempt. The fact that she owned this “big” two-bedroom house AND the land on which it sat was mind-boggling to our Irish relatives from Kent.

      Yet in our milieu, there was no doubt about it: we were poor. When my brother and I had to be put in orphanages (boys and girls separated) because Mother couldn’t find childcare, the experience smashed our family. As a non-citizen green-card resident Mother didn’t qualify for any benefits. As a woman in that time and place, she had to get a divorce from my absent father in order to get the house put in her name. Even though divorce was against her Irish Catholicism, her care for her children trumped Church law. My brother and I never knew all this until we came across the papers hidden in the china coffeepot from a demitasse set that had been part of her dowry. Yep, all levels of irony in that.

      We didn’t let on we ever knew this family secret: no need for further wounds in a nouveau poor family that ate boiled cabbage and potatoes with sterling silver monogrammed cutlery from pre-war Czechoslovakian china.

    • Thanks for your interesting comment, Mark.

      There’s little I understand about Britain these days and there especially seems nothing to justify government trolls moving people around and into areas of even worse unemployment.

      Shades of the 1960s US “urban renewal” mania which wags termed “negro removal.” Real communities, even if dilapidated, were destroyed and replaced with “better” dwellings and concrete monstrosities known as “housing projects.” Our answer to your council housing.

      The crime-ridden, drug-infested, urine-soaked Pruitt-Igoe project in St. Louis was dynamited eventually, to universal applause. But that was what the social engineering geniuses came up with while quite sober. I think.

      You’re right that that girl was not an adult but it is a measure of the insanity of the state-of-the-art welfare system then that she came in to apply for benefits without a parent or guardian, of which she had no need. She was an unguided, juvenile missile for whom money was the state’s sole contribution. What could go wrong?

      Industrial society, recent or Victorian, is fearfully complex and people in it can live lives of isolated desperation and vulnerability to economic downturns and government asininity in equal measure. No more agricultural subsistence of old, assuming even that. Your example is indeed of someone who is part of the deserving poor.

      The tragedy is that on top of all the social problems mentioned in these comments the Treason Class has chosen to import foreigners who are, if not savages, then savage in their intention to contribute nothing positive and to dominate and/or live off the autochthonous peoples, further draining available resources. That was no benevolence but ferocious, satanic malevolence.

      Even without these foreigners, we have the indigenous, lunatic, progressive zealots who imagine that a just, efficient and happy life can be created if those awful white, Christian capitalists can be shunted aside and proper social, political, and economic engineering devised and implemented by wise, scragglebeard hipsters.

      There is rampant disease at the pinnacle of Western society. Segments fully intend for the underclass to be preserved and maintained. The mass media are a vapid sewer. It’s no mystery why the West has lost its soul and its courage and why hedonism, materialism, addiction, and willful blindness are rampant.

      • Shades of the 1960s US “urban renewal” mania which wags termed “negro removal”.

        Boy, is that the truth! You’ve encapsulated what happened in St. Louis. There is a huge difference between St. Louis City and St. Louis County – where lies the infamous Ferguson, Missouri. In that county, there are more than NINETY small municipalities and you can bet they break down by race. Blacks who moved in droves to the city, looking for work (back in the 20s and 30s) were slowly driven out of the city as it gentrified in order to increase its tax base. Many communities were destroyed in the process.

        City Journal describes some of the problems there in an ironically titled essay, “The Citizen As ATM” (it begins with Pagedale, a part of St Louis County:


        In a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in November, three Pagedale residents—Valarie Whitner, Vincent Blount, and Mildred Bryant—allege that the city’s code-enforcement practices violate their civil and due-process rights. Their suit lays out the many ways to run afoul of the city’s code: letting shrubs or vegetation exceed seven inches in height; having sloppy or mismatched drapes; failing to put screens on windows and doors; playing or walking in the street; barbequing on the front lawn; and “wearing one’s pants below the waist in public.” The city has put revenue generation ahead of the administration of justice, the suit claims


        Ferguson is similar. It’s no wonder the municipality was prime pickings for the race grievance machine.

        In Virginia, we have some troubling similarities. The fines for speeding have increased by an order of magnitude. The most infamous case occurred a few years ago when a woman who was in labor broke some speeding laws trying to get to the hospital before her baby delivered itself. The cop didn’t care; ticketed her anyway. It was a huge fine, iirc, over a thousand dollars…can’t find the link now, but it was definitely an “office cooler” topic for weeks.

        Many states have admitted that traffic fines are their ATMs. A steady flow of income.

  4. If anyone is interested in this issue, you have to read Theodore Dalrymple’s books (most of them are $3 or $4 in the kindle store). He’s a doctor and psychologist who has worked on the front lines of this issue for years. He’s written many times about how the “rush to nonjudgement” of the British welfare state has created so many social ills and actually prevents people from improving their lives. Not only that, but the way the system is set up, it actually discriminates against the deserving poor who ended up in that circumstance through misfortune in favor of people who have willingly destroyed their own lives and others.

    He relates numerous stories about good members of society who are unable to get help because there were so many more people with “more serious” problems (many illegitimate children, drug addiction, criminal convictions, etc) who were given priority. What’s more, most of the descent people would likely only need assistance temporarily until they get back on their feet, like those services were intended to be used, while for the others it’s a way of life passed down through the generations.

    Unfortunately, it’s a more complicated problem than just “give certain people benefits but not others”. I think looking at South Korea could be instructional in that regard. First, marriage is still respected and supported. Not only is marriage important to the married couple, but to their families as well. The families accept some measure of responsibility for helping each other, creating a web of support. Until last year, adultery was a crime and the wronged party could sue the guilty ones for endangering or destroying the marriage and endangering the stability of the family members’ lives.

    Single mothers are not eligible for the state’s parental allowance and many other social services, but there are private charities if they need it. But because the society refuses to let illegitimacy become normalized, less than 2% of babies are born out of wedlock. It’s shameful for men, too, to father a child but refuse to marry. Shame is an underrated emotion. It stops us from doing harmful things and makes us think twice in the future once we had.

    But widows and divorced women who can’t get adequate support from their ex for whatever reason aren’t penalized, so it’s not punishing people for a horrible twist of fate. Furthermore, there are other services that are only for the children and if parents just can’t support the children, they can surrender them to orphanages without penalty.

    It’s not ideal, but neither is life in general. Illegitimacy, the abandonment of the family, and government social services enabling these cause so many problems (ones you might not even guess at first glance were related) and this is one way to cut down on them.

    • Dalrymple (he also writes under his real name, Anthony Daniels) can be read for free in his various essays in City Journal, here: https://www.city-journal.org/contributor/theodore-dalrymple_44

      One of his recent essays there is about the signs -literal signs in the airport – of Britain’s terminal illnesses:


      He also generously gave a backlog of sixty unpublished articles he had lined up for the British Medical Journal. Don’t know if they quit publishing, or just quit publishing him:


      That website is dedicated to the writings of TD, or AD, whichever you prefer.
      Here’s his collection at TAKI:

      Lastly, he’s at New English Review. Some of his work here is seen on other sites, e.g., City Journal.


      While I like his writing and have read many of his essays, I have been brought up short on occasion by his seeming lack of compassion for the poor souls he treated during his active professional life. He’s good at observing them and reporting on them (e.g., the lower classes’ utter abhorrence of ever being seen as “intolerant”. It’s akin to the big no-no in America, “racism”) but I don’t think he’s ever expressed any sense of these objects of his observation and treatment being fellow human beings. No ‘there-but-for-luck-go-I’ attempt to see them as fully human.

      Or maybe he really does think their choices put them beyond mercy? It seems rather callous to have made his living off their mistakes and suffering for the whole of his medical career and then to double dip by writing about them in retirement, safely in some rural villa in France. (Yes, some parts of France are far from the destruction of the cities).

      Your information about South Korea is new to me. Do you have some sources we could read?
      I haven’t read him lately – it’s often too dysphoric and I can generate dysphoria just fine on me own – but I do admire his skill and productivity.

      • Thanks for all those links! I’ve also felt like some of his writing about his patients was a little cold, but it doesn’t bother me all that much for a couple of reasons. I don’t think the way he writes is necessarily how he interacts with the patients. In his writing, he’s usually trying to make a larger point, but I think in the actual interactions he probably comes across more kindly and even if his internal thoughts are less than sympathetic, sympathy isn’t going to help them. As someone who has a few addicts for relatives, I can tell you that sympathy really does evaporate when you see them knowingly, willingly make the same terrible choices over and over and over, which is just as well because all sympathy does is enable them to be destructive longer. These types have already been sympathized with half to death! What they really need is someone who sees through their nonsense and he does that. But I could definitely see how some might not enjoy reading that.

        As for the Korea stuff, I’ve tried to dig up a few decent sources to put here. It’s hard to find things in English that aren’t weirdly skewed or deliberate misunderstandings. Like, in articles about single mothers being ineligible for public benefits, they always take this “oh, look at these hateful, backward, sexist Koreans who don’t care about these poor victim mothers” tone that’s just absurd. I mean, I’m not made of stone, so I do sympathize with individuals who are having a hard time because they made some poor choices in life. Everyone makes mistakes, but we have to face the consequences and not expect people to approve of what we’ve done.

        As for the social value placed on marriage, you can find tons of sources in English that’ll just tell you about as much as what was in my first post. I only started to get a real understanding for just what they mean by “marriage and family are important” through osmosis by immersing myself in language and cultural studies (by which I don’t *just* mean watching kdramas, no matter what my mom may say!) and seeing lots of little examples of how that works in practice. I’m moving there for work in a few months, so I’m trying to prepare myself as best I can! It can really be traced back to Confucianism which is the philosophy of understanding humans through their relationships to other people and the responsibilities they have to each other. It’s late and I’m tired, so I just wrote this huge rambling essay on social responsibility and single motherhood, but I came to my senses and deleted it! Basically, it’s a whole big thing and I’m having a hard time finding articles in English that really explain it. My Google-fu is failing me!

        Still, I did manage to find a couple of illuminating links:

        (statistics on illegitimate births compared by country)

        (An article about single mothers being denied public benefits)

        (An article about single mothers, which show the attitude of Western media that I was talking about)

        (An article about delaying marriage dragging down the birth rate, because the two are actually related there!)

        I’m very sorry for my rambling! Basically I wasted all these words to say that as a society, Korea has refused to accept and support this sort of selfishness and irresponsibility, either in their general attitude or their official government policies, and as a result have avoided a lot of the crime, drug use, filthy surroundings, faltering achievements, and perpetual welfare dependence that the West is drowning in at the moment. I really hope we can shift the cultural winds in a healthier, more stable direction before it’s too late.

        • Your adventure sounds exciting! Look on our blog roll for a fellow called Gypsy Scholar. He has been living and teaching in South Korea for many years. I’m sure he’d be glad to give you some pointers.

          As for Dalrymple, what I mean is compassion, not sympathy. The former comes from one’s character; sympathy is easily doled out and left behind.

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