...And Economic Justice for All: Welfare Reform for the 21st Century

By Michael L. Murray | Go to book overview

2
Are You Worthy?
Current U.S. Welfare Programs

We now know what a just economic distribution should look like and realize there are some practical limitations on making it totally just. The task in this chapter is to evaluate our current public assistance programs to determine how well they achieve the goal of justice. 1

The main point of the evaluation is that the philosophy behind our present programs is quite different from the dictates of justice developed thus far in this book. The primary evidence of this is the "categorical" nature of these programs. They attempt to segregate those who are deemed to be "worthy" of benefits from those who are not. 2 At the base of this approach is a belief that certain people who are in poverty are deserving of public assistance and others are not. Since we have argued previously that the notion of "deserving" cannot form the foundation for a just system, the current philosophy is flawed.

In discussing our present public assistance programs my emphasis is on the significant characteristics, with minimal attention to details. The significant characteristics are those subject to criticism from the vantage point of the requirements of justice as established earlier in this book. As indicated in the Introduction, I won't attempt to prove any points through the use of facts. Details change frequently, as evidenced by the recent "welfare reform" legislation; the underlying philosophy and the implied attitudes toward the poor, as revealed by the major provisions, are the relevant targets.

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...And Economic Justice for All: Welfare Reform for the 21st Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Life Is Not Fair, but People Can Be 11
  • Notes 33
  • 2 - Are You Worthy? Current U.S. Welfare Programs 41
  • Notes 65
  • 3 - The Market Who Gets What, Why, and Whether 75
  • Notes 100
  • 4 - Work--Who Needs It? 107
  • Notes 124
  • 5 - We Are What We Were 129
  • Notes 145
  • 6 - Why the Guaranteed Adequate Income 153
  • Appendix Results of Negative Income Tax Experiments 169
  • 7 - The History of Guaranteed Income Plans 178
  • Notes 187
  • 8 - The Guaranteed Adequate Income Proposal 190
  • Notes 201
  • 9 - Cost and Funding Calculations 204
  • 10 - Final Thoughts 222
  • References 227
  • Index 229
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