|Southwell Workhouse - from Wikipedia|
A guy I know , let's call him Geoff, does voluntary work on a heritage railway. A little while ago, a number of unemployed young people were given some work experience there. The young man assigned to Geoff seemed interested and quite enthusiastic until one day he said he wouldn't be able to work on the railway any longer. When Geoff asked him why not, the young man said :-
"My dad's never worked in his life and he doesn't like me working either. He doesn't want me to start."
So that was that. Of course you can't extrapolate from this single event to a whole society, but the story is common enough in outline for us to wonder what we think we are doing, where we think we are going. We got rid of the workhouses because they were seen to be harsh and demeaning. Well we've sorted out the harsh side of it I suppose, but that was the easy part wasn't it? That was the part that only needed more money to free us from an over-prescriptive regime.
What about the demeaning side though, the more difficult problem of the two? That young man was being forced into a demeaning and wasted life by his own father. Not really resolved that yet have we?