To understand the purpose of the welfare state in terms of a grand humanitarian project to eradicate poverty, and improve the health and well-being of all in a welfare society, is to misinterpret the history of the Western welfare ideal. To repeat an observation made in Chapter 1, the welfare state in the twentieth century should be described more accurately as a worker-benefit state (see Atherton 2002). As an institution, the welfare state pays little attention to the nature of work, or whether it is arduous, boring or dangerous; the only concern is that it is through industriousness that eligibility to receive social services and welfare benefits is demonstrated. Given that this fundamental principle underpins the welfare state, the system has primarily been geared to the management of incentives to ensure that as many people as possible contribute to the costs and benefits of social welfare through their taxes and social insurance payments.