The United States of America. .
. the land of the free and the home of thetax-stricken. The country that is known as “the last superpower in theworld” that developed the deadliest weapon on earth, sent the first person tothe moon, and was the birthplace of the most powerful man in the world, BillGates, has forty million people (which include ten million children) withoutbasic healthcare coverage. (Packet, pg. 58) Although this “supernation”boasts of the “American dream,” where the poor become rich overnight, thetypical American citizen does not have a “super” lifestyle.Order now
Based on theaverage income of Americans, “one in every five U. S. nonelderly households arepoor, one in four young households are poor, and over half of all householdsheaded be a lone parent are poor. ” (Packet, pg. 1) Though the United States hastried to mimic the welfare systems of that of Europe, the bureaucratic “redtape” and the conflicts that reside between the legislature and executivebranches of the government have hindered the progress towards an effectivewelfare reform policy.
In order to understand the progressions towards refiningthe wounded welfare system of the United States, one must first know whatwelfare means. The welfare state is “a state which takes the prime role inensuring the provision of a minimum standard of living for citizens. “(Professor VonDoepp) The two goals of the welfare state is that of 1. securityagainst socio-economic deprivation (especially with the current Capitalisticsystem which families base their entire lifestyle on the outcome of the economy)Broye 2 2.
equality against the still present racial tension and economicalbarriers that reside in society. Many critics of welfare programs across theworld have argued whether the U. S. is really a welfare state because of thelimited role played by the government to maintain a minimum standard of living. In Europe’s case, just the opposite can be said for their welfare programs. European states such as Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom”provide higher minimum standards of income support than are available in theU.
S. ” (Packet, pg. 1) Only seven percent of households in Western Europe haveincomes that are below the national median, compared to the United States wherethe poverty percentile is double. The only positive aspect that the U. S.
has toshow for their efforts in the current welfare system is the provision of freepublic education, which is higher than in Europe. (Packet, pg. 16) In the U. S.
the welfare system before the 1996 bipartisan revision, had far more gapingholes in the “social safety net” than that of the European states. Manyskeptics believe that the 1996 Welfare Reform Bill will cause even more harm tothe citizens of the U. S. Peter Edelmaun, the former assistant secretary forplanning and evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services, resignedafter having worked over 30 years after he read the reformation that was to takeplace from the Welfare Reform Bill.
“The bill will move 20 million people,including 1. 1 million children, into poverty, and forcing 11 million families(10 percent of all American family households) under the poverty line which waslast estimated at $13,793 for a family of three. (Atlantic Monthly & Packet,pg. 46) While many European states including Sweden, Germany, the UnitedKingdom, France, and the Netherlands provide healthcare Broye 3 centers,suitable housing, health/recreational spas, and regulate wage differentials andoffering generous social assistance to the jobless, the United States recentlypassed a bill to narrow the eligibility for disabled children which will resultin the removal of 100,000 to 200,000 of the children who currently receive SSI. Senator Edward Kennedy, who voted against the bill, described it best by sayingit was “legislative child abuse. ” (Atlantic Monthly) Even though the worldsees that the United States needs to broaden their “safety net” for itscitizens, political strife continues to shorten welfare’s reach to those whoare in need.
The most serious cut to arise from the political blood bath tocreate the Welfare Reform Bill is the limiting of food stamps to three monthsout of every three years for unemployed adults under the age of fifty who do notcare for any siblings. (Atlantic Monthly) Instead of cutting down the cow (thefood provided by the government), why not cut the cash cow that many of ourlegislative and executive officials enjoy having on a regular basis? The newsgets better for welfare recipients. There is now a five year cap on welfare aidto all recipients, a cap of $16. 4 billion annually for funding, with no newfunding for jobs and work training, and the states have been given absolutepower of decree to do as they wish with their appointed sums of welfare revenue.
Was it not the goal of the welfare system to prevent an uprising in case ofeconomic turmoil and instill peace-of-mind that there would be preventivemeasures in place in the instance of an unforeseen tragedy? In the case of thenew reform bill passed by Congress and the President, welfare will most likelycause upheaval instead of preventing it. If this were Broye 4 so, then theUnited States must ask whether malnutrition, abuse against children, and deeperpoverty among its citizens is in the best interest for the sake of “reform. “In 1871, Otto von Bismark created the first social welfare insurance known tothe world to help prevent cultural uprisings in Germany. One reason for ourpresent-day welfare systems that span around the world is in part to thesocialist labor movement, which grew only as a reaction to aristocratic power. (Packet, pg. 17) Industrialization was at the threshold of a new century, andsocialistic ideals began to manifest themselves into the values of Europe’scitizens.
The threat of a capitalistic resistance towards socialization bringingdisastrous economical effects and interest in regulation of industry instead ofownership, led to the progression of the current welfare state system. (Packet,pg. 12) One speculation as to why welfare programs have done well in Europeanstates, unlike that of the U. S. , is because of the “royal absolutism.
“European bureaucracies had long been seen as a legitimate power in governmentalrule, so no one opposed the reformation to a welfare system when endorsed by thearistocrats. “The general principles of the welfare state are as universallyaccepted and politically invulnerable in Europe as social security is to theelderly. ” (Packet, pg. 17) Besides the uniquely different histories thatbrought Europe and the United States to develop social-economic welfareprograms, the relative size in population per state is a determining factorstated by one hypothesis.
The higher neglect of the American welfare systemcould be traced to the spatial obstacles readily visible in the U. S. Manypolitical and social theorists refute this theory on the basis, and not to betaken out of context, that “size doesn’t matter. ” In fact, many theoristsbelieve that because the U. S.
is so tightly- Broye 5 knitted in respect topeople per square mile (an average of 55 people per square mile), they should beable to procure a feasible way of handling the dilemma concerning welfarereform. (Packet, pg. 2) The closer you are to a community, the more likelihood ofsharing similar interests and goals. Another explanation for America’s welfarewoes is that of appeasement.
America has been respectively given the name”melting pot” for the diverse population it holds within its borders. European states do not have to contend to the desires of a largely diversepopulation as greatly because most citizens of Europe have heavy ties to theirhomeland and do not often part from their birthplace. In order to appease themajority of the population in America, compromises must be reached. Unfortunatley, compromise can (and often does) lead to the exclusion ofnecessary elements to create a sound reform or economical benefit to thecountry’s welfare. The crucial component that could greatly benefit the UnitedStates welfare program is what Europe learned long ago: cooperation,consideration, and the belief that no one must be denied the right for the basicneeds to sustain life as we know it.
BibliographyPeter Edelmaun, “The Worst Thing Bill Clinton Has Done,” AtlanticMonthly, March 1996. Robert Heilbroner, “Benign Neglect in the UnitedStates,” in Transaction, October 1970, Vol. 7 #12. (Packet) John Kautsky,”Contexts of Conservatism, Liberalism, and Socialism,” in Society, MarchApril 1996, Vol.
33#3. (Packet) Katherine McFate, “First World Poverty,” inFocus, November 1991, Vol. 19#11. (Packet) “Mr. Blair Goes to Washington,”in The Economist Volume 346, Feb.
7, 1998 pp. 15-16. (Packet)