INTRODUCTION

In the field of relief and social security the depression of the 1930's caught the United States almost entirely unprepared. To meet the resulting crisis, the nation had hastily to improvise and experiment. Because of the imperative need for speed, and because of the financial difficulties of many state and local governments, the problem was tackled piecemeal without careful consideration of the duties and responsibilities of the several levels of government as set forth in the Constitution of the United States and the constitutions of the states. Thus the nation now faces the question of how the many programs are to be integrated, expanded, and modified to make a satisfactory whole, which will assure to all minimum protection against want.

The evolution of social security and relief legislation both in the United States and foreign countries suggests, however, that the problem of welding the various programs developed for special classes or categories into an integrated and comprehensive, universal system would have arisen, had we proceeded more slowly without the driving impetus of the depression. Other countries have legislated by individual programs only to discover at the end of many years that co-ordination is essential. Thus in 1942 in reporting on the British programs, Sir William Beveridge said:

. . . social insurance and the allied services, as they exist today, are conducted by a complex of disconnected administrative organs, proceeding on different principles, doing invaluable service but at a cost in money and trouble and anomalous treatment of identical problems for which there is no justification. In a system of social security better on the whole than can be found in almost any other country there are serious deficiencies which call for remedy.1

The British situation which Sir William thus described developed in a nation with an all-powerful central government.

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1
Sir William Beveridge, Social Insurance and Allied Services ( 1942) p. 6. Hereafter cited as The Beveridge Report.

-1-

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