- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 2 Reprint edition (March 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805069291
- ISBN-13: 978-0805069297
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#2,686,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #2572 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > Social Policy
- #2702 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Civics & Citizenship
- #7504 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > Social Services & Welfare
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The Price of Citizenship: Redefining the American Welfare State Paperback – March 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Arguably the leading historian of American social welfare, Katz (In the Shadow of the Poorhouse; The Undeserving Poor; etc.) has written a defining history of post-Nixon transformations of America's welfare state, including its nonprofit and private sectors (private pensions, health insurance, etc.). Three forces drive the welfare revolutions, he says a savage, selective war on dependence, a push for devolution of power from the federal level to the states and an often nave, ill-conceived use of market models shaping a "master narrative of policy reform" involving "the discovery of a crisis of numbers and costs (rising rolls); the assignment of blame to morally suspect persons (the undeserving); the reduction of program size through controlling eligibility more than reducing benefits (reform); the measurement of achievement by fewer beneficiaries (success); and the failure to track the fate of those denied help (willful ignorance)." Katz's clear articulation of underlying forces and patterns never overwhelms the rich, compelling detail of specific histories involving workers' compensation, disability insurance, unemployment, medical care, food security, urban policy, urban housing, homelessness, Social Security and welfare. Highlights of earlier history serve to dispel common myths (there was no golden age of faith-based private charity), explain the genesis of modern policies (always products of conflict and compromise) and provide perspective for current proposals (which often echo past mistakes). Katz quotes and refers to a wide range of experts as well as political actors, producing a vivid sense of immediacy matched with keen reflection. Without preaching, Katz meticulously reveals the folly of emulating disintegrative forces rather than balancing them. This is a masterpiece of contemporary history. (Apr.)Forecast: This will be important reading for people in the social welfare fields as well as interested citizens, and a six-city author tour will help bring the book to public attention.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
In this exhaustive historical and political study of welfare in 20th-century America, political scientist Katz (Improving Poor People) focuses on the destructive influence of the market economy on social welfare programs. He argues that "the market's radical individualism, its processes of marginalization and exclusion, and its subversion of the public sphere" has a "corrosive impact" on our society because it "threatens our national cohesion" the very basis of citizenship. He deplores the transfer of political authority from the federal government to the states and worries about our country's future in an era when such benefits of citizenship as healthcare, unemployment compensation, and aid for the elderly will be denied those most needing public assistance. Well documented and passionately argued, this lucid and persuasive defense of public welfare insists that undoing the welfare state will change the reality of American citizenship, making it not a right but a privilege open only to those with money. The effect will irreparably tear apart the country's social fabric and increase the divide between poor and wealthy Americans. For academic and most medium and large public libraries. Jack Forman, San Diego Mesa Coll. Lib.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Katz then goes on to provide useful and informative chapters on governors as welfare reformers, mayors as welfare reformers, the limits of private charity, the decline of employer benefits, increased risks for the injured and disabled and unemployed, "reform" of social security, new market models for health care, the fate of food stamps and legal services and the end of welfare. Each chapter is useful and will be very illuminating for those who only read The New Republic. Consider the case of John Engler's welfare reform, which boasted of its removal of people from the welfare rolls and their placement in paying employment. But how much of this was the result of the reforms and how much was it that of a booming economy? A study found that when compared to a control group, Engler's programs had increased adult employment by only 2.4%. And in Detroit 60% of children under five still lived in poverty in 1996. The even more hyped case of Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin (now the Secretary in charge of getting hysterical over anthrax) is even more convincingly deflated. Thompson's Learnfare, a program of denying benefits to families whose children do not attend school, certainly seemed tough and punitive, but even state agencies agreed it hadn't actually increased school attendance. It may appear encouraging that from 1987-1995 Wisconsin's AFDC payroll dropped by a nearly a quarter. But 75% of that decline occured in his first term, before his plans had time to take effect. The centrist Democratic mayor of Philadelphia has been much praised, but the city was still losing people and perhaps 27% of the population was below the poverty line. Privitization in Indianopolis actualy increased long-term debt, while taxes rose and homicides beat new records in 1994 and 1997.
Empowerment zones are also deflated: "In June 1999 the Philadelphia empowerment zone reported that it had helped businesses create four hundred jobs, but it could not say whether the jobs already existed or were projected for the future." Private charities have never, Katz points out, cared for most of America's needy. Many private charities depend on government funds for their work, and much of charity goes to religious denominations, as opposed to poor per se. The distinction can be seen in 1994 when the governor of Mississippi asked the states' 5,500 churches to adapt a needy family, only 15 followed through. We then move to the steady evisceration of company benefits, along with attempts to gut workmen's compensation and unemployment insurance.
Katz is good at pointing out the flaws in conservative attacks on welfare. He discusses the 1995 campaign against disability benefits, which relied on anecdotal evidence, despite four major studies that found no evidence of widespread fraud or abuse. A hotline to report fraud found only 83 serious cases out of a million eligible children. Katz also discusses the conservative panic over social security, such as how their vaunted "Chilean" model has high administrative costs and in 1995 was actually losing money. The Enron debacle only vindicates Katz's criticisms. Katz also details the failure of for-profit hospitals, with their own habits of "waste, fraud and abuse," and the debacle that is managed care. He notes how legal services in the United States receives only a fraction of the money alloted to it in Ontario and Britain. He deflates conservative propaganda that AFDC causes illegitimacy (if so, why is single parenting rising when the value of AFDC benefits had been dropping for decades?) He notes that welfare reform has proven more successful at reducing rolls than reducing poverty, and there has a been a noted reluctance for people to research how those thrown off rolls are doing. (Reports that 50% of ex-recepients have found jobs are not all that different from statistics in the eighties) By the end of the book Katz has clearly shown that we now live in a world where the price of citizenship is paid by those who can least afford it, as they are governed by men (and occasionally women) who believe that sacrifices are something that only other people do.
Now, I'm not sure if Katz is a liberal. He doesn't really ever go into what he thinks, or what his views are on the different issues of welfare. What I am sure is that he presents BOTH SIDES of the debate on welfare. Not only do you get to read the opinions of the liberals who are for welfare, but you get to read all the opinions of conservatives against it. This is how historical books are supposed to be presented, and this is how Katz' Price of Citizenship is presented. The reviewer below who talks about Katz making all these liberal assumptions obviously didn't read the book. Katz opinions in the matter are absent in the book. The ONLY case you could make about Katz creating a libral-bias side FOR welfare is by saying he gives more credence to liberal views than conservative views by presenting more, or better written liberal views than conservative views. Well, I didn't notice any such thing at all.
Now, I'm not going to pretend like this book doesn't seem to hint at giving any sort of credence to a political ideology. Its conclusions do seem to give more credence to the liberal side of the welfare debate than the conservative one. But is that because the author is creating biased arguments in favor of liberal positions? Nope. Read the book. You'll be amazed how objective this book is considering it deals with such an emotional, hot political topic. You know, sometimes, one side of the political spectrum may have more truth in its favor than the other side. When presenting these truths, this hardly counts as bias, or rhetoric. Its been my experience that neither political side (liberal or conservative) has a monopoly on the truth. Sometimes, when you take an objective look at a certain issue, and examine ALL the facts, one side is going to come out ahead. Thats just life. THere's no liberal or conservative conspiracy going on.
For those of you who've read Charle's Murray's Losing Ground (which I have), it is HARDLY a liberal equivalent. There is a surprisingly absense of political rhetoric, or emotional arguments in this book. It is truly a perfect example of how one CAN ACTUALLY learn some real truths about a political topic that has biased rhetoric from both sides of the political spectrum.
If you really want to learn something about welfare, and the recent history of welfare (i.e. welfare in the 90's) and all the recent debates about it, then read this book. Read it ESPECIALLY if you are like me, and are tired of reading countless partisan books from both sides time and time again when researching political topics.