It seems we somehow neglected to post this City Journal piece from several weeks ago on English child killer – there are plenty of other choice words I would like to use here – Michael Philpott, which seems to have produced something of a debate on the country’s welfare system. Dalrymple responds to those who blame only or primarily that system, suggesting that more is at work in the case:
On the whole, the debate generated more heat than light, becoming, as so many things do these days, a media circus. A couple of observations may help to clarify matters. The first is that the welfare system as currently constituted was almost certainly a necessary condition for much of Philpott’s conduct, though, of course, not a sufficient one. Philpott was able-bodied and capable of work. Even before the arson case made him infamous, he had appeared twice on television programs—first requesting larger public housing for his family, and then being told that the TV show had found three jobs for him. He showed up for none. By then, the generous benefit system had rendered work economically illogical; his children had become his milch cows. But while the state had made his conduct possible—and profitable—it did not require it. The great majority of people on welfare do not behave as he did, as Jones rightly noted.