The American Welfare System: Origins, Structure, and Effects

By Howard Gensler | Go to book overview

12
Reform
Howard GenslerThe desire to reform the welfare system is virtually universal. Many would like to abolish it. Even those who are "pro-welfare" are dissatisfied with the system per se. Before proposing a program of reform, the problems with the system should be identified.
1. Administrative Costs. The administrative costs of all the various welfare programs are certainly high. It is expensive to evaluate cases, manage bureaucracies, distribute benefits, monitor recipients, prosecute fraud, litigate disputes, and analyze performance.
2. Incomplete Coverage. Many people who qualify for benefits fail to receive them because they either do not apply or are improperly denied. Still more people are truly needy, but do not qualify because they do not fall into an appropriate category.
3. Complexity. The administration of welfare is very complicated. There are a great many programs. The major programs vary by state; local relief varies by county. There are literally thousands of different welfare programs in the United States, covering the landscape like a threadbare patchwork quilt. The technical regulations of the major programs are daunting. AFDC is so complicated that bureaucrats resort to summary sheets to determine grants. The regulations are too difficult to understand.
4. Variation. Fundamental fairness requires that two identical poor people should be treated the same, too often they are not. Support levels depend upon an accident of geography, time, family structure, and even race and sex.
5. Fraud. Any system that depends upon making an administrative determination of qualification or need is subject to fraud. People can appear to be qualified when they are not.

-231-

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The American Welfare System: Origins, Structure, and Effects
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • I - The Origins of the American Welfare System 1
  • 1 - The Child and the American Welfare State 3
  • Notes 18
  • 2 - The New View of the Child 23
  • Notes 48
  • 3 - Progressive Priorities 55
  • Notes 69
  • 4 - Child Labor and the Mothers' Pension Movement 73
  • Notes 91
  • 5 - The Democratization of Outdoor Relief 97
  • Notes 120
  • 6 - Child Labor and Southern Patriotism 125
  • Notes 150
  • 7 - Farm Labor and "City-Centered" Child Welfare 155
  • Notes 168
  • 8 - The Case of Mothers' Pensions in Memphis 171
  • Notes 185
  • 9 - The Child and the State 189
  • Notes 194
  • II - The Structure and Effects of Welfare 197
  • 10 - The Structure of the American Welfare System 199
  • Notes 215
  • 11 - Behavioral Effects from Welfare 219
  • Notes 226
  • 12 - Reform 231
  • Notes 235
  • 13 - Welfare Policy: Point and Counterpoint 237
  • Notes 266
  • Bibliography 273
  • Index 289
  • About the Editor and Contributors 295
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