This is a good empirical account. More extreme, but no less relevant, would be accounts of life in Nazi Germany for example. Many who lived through it remark about the groundlessness they felt. Since surveillance was prevalent (though not as technologically sophisticated), people lost their sense of a basically secure background against which their lives could play out. In existentialist terms it heightens inauthenticity and bad faith, which has pretty terrible consequences for quality of life.Dr. Medulla wrote:While not technologically as sophisticated and therefore not as obviously intrusive as contemporary Britain's actions, Canada's Indian policy, mainly past policy, demonstrates how rigid controls of a segment of the population only creates misery, dependence, and an institutionalized mentality. In the first half of the twentieth c., Canada's First Nations were restricted to reserves, all their ambitions filtered thru an Indian agent, their movements strictly controlled. The result was poverty and declining quality of life, not to mention erosion of traditions and cultural identity. Reserves have gradually been granted more autonomy, but still suffer the effects comparable to prisoners—limited ambition, looking at others as targets, and disconnect from the larger society. Nepotism is rampant on many Canadian reserves, where federal cash is controlled by the band council, which is made up of one family. The efforts to control Aboriginal peoples—much more stick than carrot—to make them abandon their traditional ways ended up creating a culture of dependency and neglect. It just doesn't work to penalize people more and more.
I think welfare is one of the least egregious acts of the state in the sense that at least they don't break your legs and leave you on the ground. But I don't think it's accidental that the therapeutic justifications for intervention are so easy to make once you assume that government must always catch the fallen to the exclusion of people holding up each other. Now, a social democrat could reasonably articulate and advocate a balanced welfare state. However, in order to achieve balance, one must be cognizant of the incentival structures involved and vigilant about the boundaries of intervention, since this has a natural logic towards more and more intervention and regimentation. Hayek made that argument about economic intervention in the Road to Serfdom, but I actually find it more relevant when it comes to welfare (and healthcare too) because of the therapeutic justification so eloquently articulated by Michel Foucault, whereas a mixed economy has SOME degree of stability since it's all we've ever known of market economies in the modern era (i.e. the 19th century was not, contrary to popular opinion, laissez-faire as it rested on both prior appropriations and special treatment). I think the therapeutic road to totalitarianism is more relevant to our current epoch than the economic road, though there's plenty to recommend that analysis as well (like the nationalization of industries in the US, where loss is socialized and profit privatized).