European Reporters' Views of America's Welfare Reform

By Gehlen, Martin | Nieman Reports, Summer 1999 | Go to article overview

European Reporters' Views of America's Welfare Reform


Gehlen, Martin, Nieman Reports


Media Coverage Shifts From Looking Abroad to Looking Next Door

Ideas travel. Historically, political entrepreneurs on both sides of the Atlantic have pointed to the effectiveness of practices that were developed on the other side as evidence of the feasibility of their favored policies.

In the 19th Century, Friedrich List, long-time German advocate for national tariffs, went to the United States, became actively involved in the American tariff debate, and on his return campaigned for the adoption of a national economic strategy on the basis of the American success. At the turn of the century, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wanted to import the German apprenticeship system, so officials came to see and report on how it worked.

In the 1920's, German Social Democrats and union leaders were fascinated by Henry Ford's production philosophy, prompting the radical labor intellectual Jakob Walcher to write a book entitled "Ford or Marx: The Practical Solution of the Social Question." Ford's memoirs appeared in German translation in 1923 and ran through more than 30 reprints. Under the Nazis, Ferdinand Porsche toured Detroit's automobile factories in search of ideas for his Volkswagen project. After the Second World War, Germans considered almost anything American a model for imitation. By the 1970's, the so-called "Wirtschaftswunder" and the competitive edge enjoyed by German companies convinced American business leaders to look at the "Modell Deutschland."

Now, America's low unemployment and economic strength of the 1990's have ignited a broad discussion in Europe on the merits of the U.S. model.

As the first political waves of Clinton's vague '92 campaign slogan "to end welfare as we know it" reached European shores, U.S. unemployment figures dropped below German figures for the first time since the early 1960's. Led by its young, dynamic president, the United States seemed willing to become fit for the global competition of the next century by rethinking the traditional balance between the welfare state and its citizens, between public and private responsibility. The political and journalistic response was swift and comprehensive. Mainstream coverage in the German press focused on several features of the U.S. system that--if transferred to this country--could bring about a change of course in its economic and social policies.

Welfare reform measures--such as state-sponsored workfare projects--were examined with an eye toward their applicability in Germany. Along with looking at specific welfare policy changes that were taking place in states like Wisconsin, other economic and social issues were being covered as well. These included the sudden surge in U.S. jobs, wage restraint and social deregulation, the entrepreneurial spirit in the United States and the abolishment of the alleged welfare hammock for the poor.

Now, two years later, the situation has changed. The U.S. job situation appeared to lose its attraction when reporting about the dark side, the undesirable side effects of the American success story, started to show up in newspaper editorials and magazine stories. One reason for this change was that leading publications describe and treat the American welfare situation as an issue that is closely interrelated with other features of social policy like, for example, health care and the minimum wage. It is unthinkable in most European states that so many people would be without health insurance and work for such low wages without receiving government benefits.

Other topics that surfaced in reporting about American social policy included high crime and poverty rates (especially among children), large wage disparities, the working poor, dismal employment protections, and low levels of unemployment benefits. And there was also coverage about the subsidies companies receive from the government through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which enables low-wage workers to inch out of poverty. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

European Reporters' Views of America's Welfare Reform
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.