Letter: Dependency culture

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The Independent Online
Dependency culture

Sir: David Aaronovitch ("Conservatism of the left - the siren voice that stifles change", 18 December) has struck the right note.

I was a social worker for 23 years and was involved with just about every aspect of human misery. I learnt that not only are the poor always with us, but some of them have every intention of remaining with us.

Families with chronic personal problems which infect the next generation, and the next, see a social worker as being as much part of their extended families as their grandparents and grandchildren. Social services departments are locked into a symbiotic relationship with them and therefore cannot bring about radical change for the better. It is a system of mutual dependency.

GPs, sympathetic to the shortcomings of some of their patients, admit them to the ranks of the disabled when, like Otto's cousin, they are unfortunate but not unemployable.

I am an ardent supporter of free libraries, the National Health Service, and free education, but I am also in favour of the personal dignity that comes with honest labour. It is a form of benevolent slavery to reduce able people to permanent dependency.

The way forward? I don't have any quick cures. It's a start, though, if people like you are prepared to voice unpopular views.


Lichfield, Staffordshire