Poverty and Rational Reform
Perhaps the major message of this book is that effective welfare reform is all of a piece. To overcome poverty and economic deprivation in America would require a set of closely knit social welfare policies based on specified principles, backed up by a healthy, full employment economy, and run by and for the people. Our past experience proves only too well that halfway measures, no matter how well intended or expensive, are ultimately ineffective and wasteful. A sound and effective policy must recognize and alleviate the real causes of poverty and economic hardship in America.
The best approach to the reform of America's social welfare programs is simply to replace most of them. The nation needs to debate the goals of its social welfare expenditures and then establish a social insurance system designed to achieve the targets it sets. Such a system should be financed by general tax revenues and a tax on employers and employees. To be effective it should have a preventive orientation, should provide comprehensive benefits, and as much as possible, be universal. The system should be preventive because it is more logical and less expensive to prevent problems than it is to solve them. It should be comprehensive so that all the problems that cause poverty can be dealt with, and so that programs do not compete with or feed off one another. It should be universal because the services are needed by all, and because universal programs are more likely to be better designed and attract more participation.