The American Welfare System: Origins, Structure, and Effects

By Howard Gensler | Go to book overview

selves better off at the expense of all others, including the poor. The use of political markets to transfer income to the poor is fraught with incentive problems and political considerations, which may harm the poor in the long run.

Perkins concludes that government "has a serious responsibility to the poor. But given its poor record of ineffectiveness, it is foolish to expect our government to lead the way in providing creative, constructive and nurturing social services." 747 The federal government is ill-equipped to help poor individuals -- it does not use categorization and discernment, it is too far away from the problem to pose effective solutions, and it lacks the incentives that accompany private and voluntary efforts.

But supporters of the status quo will fight substantial reform because they will be made worse off; entrenched bureaucracies will be among the biggest impediments to reform. Unfortunately, with compassion currently defined as "more spending," with a still-strong faith in government's ability to fix social and economic problems, and with bureaucrats who will defend their turf, welfare reform is unlikely to occur.


NOTES

The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of the other contributors to this volume.

666.
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice ( Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1971).
667.
Moreover, Rawls proposes that people would choose a "maximin" strategy -- to maximize the minimum level of income in society. While highly questionable, his more general result of a taste and preference for greater income equality seems reasonable.
668.
Pure utilitarianism values the collective over the individual and requires the assumptions that (1) utility and income are positively correlated and (2) the relationship between utility and income is equivalent among all individuals.
669.
Beverly Bartlett, "Racial Imbalance Forces 10 Blacks to Leave Central," Louisville Courier-Journal, September 23, 1994, p. A1.
670.
Arthur Okun, Equality and Efficiency ( Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1975), p. 4.
671.
Gary Burtless, "The Economist's Lament: Public Assistance in America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 4, no. 1 (Winter 1990), 57-78.
672.
Similarly the earned income tax credit provides the equivalent of a 40 percent wage-rate subsidy up to $8,425 in earned income, and a lump-sum transfer up to $11,000 and then imposes a 21 percent benefit reduction rate. The subsequent cut-off point is $27,000, extending the income transfer well into the middle class. Edgar Browning, "Effects of the Earned Income Tax Credit on Income and Welfare," (Working paper, Texas A&M University, 1994).

-266-

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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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