Does America Hate the Poor? The Other American Dilemma: Lessons for the 21st Century from the 1960s and the 1970s

By John E. Tropman | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
Poorfare Culture, Welfare State

American society has a social culture (value system) and a social structure. One is a system of beliefs and values; the other a system of policies and actions. Each clearly influences the other, yet the cultural aspect of American society can be characterized semi-independently from its structural aspect. In this respect, these results suggest that we have a poorfare culture in a welfare-state context.


WELFARE STATE

At one level there is no significant dispute that American society has moved into the league of "welfare-state players." Certainly, the hundreds of billions of dollars of public money which is spent to provide social assistance of one sort or another is ample tegtimony to this fact. Dear ( 1989, 27) points out, "More than $17 billion will go to eligible low income families in fiscal 1990."

When one includes the large number of other programs of social assistance, including social security and programs for the elderly, and adds to those federal programs for veterans administration, a substantial amount of the federal fiscal dollar is already marked for the entitlement programs to the disadvantaged and elderly. In addition to these tax-funded programs, other billions are made available through charitable contributions and expenditures in what is often called the voluntary sector ( Tropman and Tropman 1987). To these significant numbers one can add welfare-state expenditures paid for

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