- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 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: #2,827,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Price of Citizenship: Redefining the American Welfare State Reprint Edition
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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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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Here's how they do it, according to Katz: Using the same master narratives of sorting citizens into deserving and undeserving categories to begin the assault, then tightening the screws on the "undeserving," the conservative business forces follow up with the panacea of the marketplace as the be-all and end-all solution: get those lazy minority mothers off the dole and into jobs; close down the loopholes in unemployment so that no one will qualify; drive people slowly toward the assumption of more and more risk by scaring them with junk statistics on the imminent demise of Social Security and then offering them the "solution" of mutual funds -- etc., etc., etc. The strategy is always the same: the market will knit up the ravell'd sleeve of care, when in fact it really serves to unravel the social safety net for those who need it most, and, weaves new money-making nets for others in the name of "efficiency" and "choice." These special stronger nets are the new welfare schemes for corporations and the upper and upper middle class.
One of the finest chapters deals with underhanded manipulation by conservatives of the public with regard to viability of Social Security. Katz convincingly shows that Social Security is not in any danger of going bankrupt -- period. He shows how the forces arrayed against Social Security, through misinformation, through the politics of playing younger workers against older workers, has managed to convince most Americans that they will either not recieve their benefits or recieved reduced benefits. Indeed, until I read this chapter, I was one sheep among the many. He then goes on to show how the various "choice" schemes proposed to "fix" Social Security through investment in the stockmarket -- either individually or collectively -- would serve to make financial companies billions and billions of dollars. In every chapter, Katz follows the money, and, sadly it usually leads to the ultra-right think tanks whose clients most stand to profit from the privatization of government social welfare programs.
It may sound by this review that "The Price of Citizenship" is a muckraking screed. Or that it was written by a conspiracy nut. It is neither. Instead it is a deeply researched work that convinces through facts as well as through narrative that the forces of the marketplace through the instrument of the ideology of the market as espoused by the right wing have been successful in undermining the foundations of U.S. social welfare programs (which frankly weren't much to begin with). Katz never uses invective -- the strongest word he uses is "underhanded" in his description of the scuttling of Clinton's health plan by business and medical interests -- instead he marshalls facts, questions assumptions, and draw important parallels and connections between the assaults on all of these programs. After reading this book, you'll be more than prepared to do some debunking of the conventional wisdom about Social Security, "Workfare" programs, HMOs, etc. May I dare say Katz has done us all, and even his country, a noble service by putting the lie to the master lie of the marketplace as the best solution for what ails us. Voucher this, baby!
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.