Access to Welfare: An Introduction to Welfare Rationing by Peggy Foster

By Peggy Foster

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Extra info for Access to Welfare: An Introduction to Welfare Rationing

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When caIculating the overall needs of each region RA WP took into account the existing proportion of national revenue spent on each type of health care service. A more radical, and it could be argued, more independent approach would have been to caIculate how much should ideally be allocated to different categories of patients. A more fundamental criticism of RA WP's methodology was that it was a superficial approach to the problem of measuring need. According to the Radical Statistics Health Group RA WP's failure to define or even attempt to define heaIth care needs was a fundamental flaw in their methodology.

7 Several criticisms can be made of this approach to the definition of need. How are we to decide what is or is not essential to a person's life plan? If a woman's life plan is to be an artist how many easels and paints does she need? A more fundamental criticism is that it does not explain why an individual's life plan is in itself a basic need rather than a want. A young man may claim that his life plan is to be a top class racing driver and that he therefore needs a very expensive racing car.

If the issue of deserts is logically distinct from the definition of welfare needs, we cannot distinguish needs from wants simply by defining needs as those wants which a third party judges an individual deserves to have met. In what other ways might we attempt to distinguish between needs and wants? Several writers argue that we can objectively distinguish wants and needs by examining the consequences for people of not having their needs or wants met. According to Plant, 'If a man is held to need something, he lacks something and will be harmed by his lack of it ...

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