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Free «The Welfare State» Essay Sample

In order to have a good overview of the establishment of welfare state it is important to distinguish between the origins and consolidation of the welfare state and their expansion and development of these welfares (Ubiergo, 2007). Ubiergo (2007) says that a study of the origins the welfare stat both in advanced capitalist democracies ad in America requires a careful analysis of the economic and political factors that led to the establishment of these welfare states.

According to Ubiergo (2007) the “welfare state can be defined as a repertoire of state-led public policies aimed at protecting citizens against the risks of modern capitalist’s life” (p. 24). This according to Ubiergo (2007) can for example be unemployment, old age, sickness, improving the accumulation of human capital and the equalization of opportunities. The first objective of a welfare state is usually accomplished through the use of social security programs which for example can be pension’s transfers, unemployment benefits, family allowances and also through food stamps (Ubiergo, 2007).

The other objective of welfare as indicated by Ubiergo (2007) depends on the public provision of health and education services. In this context some states can be more successful in the pursuit f these goals than others. Ubiergo (2007) continues to say that in some states in America the objectives of the welfare have been achieved with more success that have progressively been regarded as a social right of the citizenship. Ubiergo (2007) also argues that in other states large segments of the population lack access to even the most basic social programs.

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Ubiergo (2007) says that the idea of welfare state does not need to presuppose that the state is actually succeeding in maintaining the income of their citizens, reducing poverty, ensuring equal access to health and education, limiting dependence on the market. He thus continues to say that welfare state only seeks to ensure that the state does actually have a more or less developed repertoire of policies aimed at reaching at least some of these goals (Ubiergo, 2007). As a result the different degrees in which the state attempts t deal with these social risks are very important to the people.

In his further studies Ubiergo (2007) says that welfare state focuses on the socioeconomic and political factors that would in the future transform the states initially legislation into increasingly greater welfare entitlements and public health and educational systems. Ubiergo (2007) also found out that welfare systems in America developed in a fragmented manner. Ubiergo (2007) thus says that “although pressures from powerful groups played an important role in the establishment of welfare systems and the timing and quality of social insurance schemes ted to follow the underlying distribution of potential power” (p.27).

The reason why some states have well established welfare systems than others is because social protection policies were not the passive governmental result of group pressures but rather they are passive objects of class pressures (Ubiergo, 2007). Duignan & Rabushka (1980), indicated that all welfare schemes have three basic parts that are politically sensitive to a high degree. They continue to say that the first level is the degree to which the program affects the incentive of a person on welfare to find work or to earn more Duignan & Rabushka (1980). This variation is therefore experienced at state level hence this has resulted to the difference in welfare schemes in these states. The welfare system is also considered as additional costs to the taxpayers. Duignan & Rabushka (1980) say that in order for it to become a reality it must contain strong incentives to work and it must have a reasonable cost.

Duignan & Rabushka (1980) indicated that the typical welfare family of four qualifies for about $6,000 in services and money every year. Some states have higher paying rates for example in some states a number of welfare families receive annual benefits ranging from $7,000 to $12,000 or more (Duignan & Rabushka, 1980). Over the time studies show that a radical welfare system should ensure that virtually no one covered under any of the available welfare programs would suffer any los or reduction in benefits as established by Duignan & Rabushka (1980). They also said that the minimum level of support provided for a family of four by any welfare system plan must approach the level of payments in states like New York and California where a large segment of the welfare population lives, a level that averages approximately $6,000 per year. This therefore indicates that the variation also arises from the level of welfare population in a particular state.   

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In addition Pierson & Castles (2000) indicated that another source of difference is based on the fashionable view that high levels of welfare state spending and highly regulated labor markets are incompatible with the new realities of a globalized economy which impose heavy constraints on the policy autonomy of a particular state. Pierson & Castles (2000) thus said that I nations do not heed the demands of the federal  government domestic economic actors will vote with their feet, level the state increasingly bereft of supplies of mobile capital and skilled labor. As a result Pierson & Castles (2000) said that states which do not reduce high levels of social spending and taxation are quite likely to decrease their welfare spending substantially or else go out of business. 

Pierson & Castles (2000) continue to indicate that “there is some inescapable trade-off between desired social and economic objectives within the states which is seen as the primary problem for the contemporary welfare state” (p. 6). A major influential strand of argument has been the view that population ageing combined with excessive state pensions have compromised the integrity of public finances hence what is required are reforms to reduce basic pension rights and to privatize provision for the middle class (Pierson & Castles,2000). Another major cause of these variations in the welfare systems is that of politically driven cutbacks to existing levels of provision. In some states Pierson & Castles (2000) noted hat political challenges to welfare systems result from how economic and demographic problems of advanced welfare systems have been translated into pressures for public sector retrenchment ad how far such retrenchment agendas have been successful in those states.    

As a result looking at measures such as the level of public sector employment in such states and the extent of direct, non profit, service provision by the state there is the availability of enough evidence of the welfare state differences (Pierson & Castles, 2000). This has also caused major changes in welfare state priorities. This on the other hand directly affects the services and income transfer directed to the old and the unemployed in that state. According to Pierson & Castles (2000) the changing social and economic practices pose for our welfare institutions especially those that relate to the governance of labor markets. This in turn causes the differences in the welfare systems in different states.

Pierson & Castles (2000) in their further studies indicated that the extraordinary breadth and diversity of thinking about welfare being undertaken from almost every point of the political compass has a great influence in the operations of welfare systems in different states. It also gives the expression of the enormous challenges that the states face while at the same time it counsels against quick fixes and responses to problems which are undoubtedly real but may also be manageable (Pierson & Castles, 2000). Because the welfare system has forced itself to the top of the political agenda over the first twenty years it seems to be unlikely to lose is salience in the coming years. Different states have different political influence in the way they run their social systems but the federal government should institute the allocation of the necessary budget to these states to enable them to run their welfare systems appropriately.

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According Duignan & Rabushka (1980) the politically acceptable cost of running the welfare system is difficult to estimate with precision. Duignan & Rabushka (1980)  also indicated that given the public attitudes towards welfare spending in particular and the widespread opposition to higher taxes in general to spending cuts other federal programs hence this is also reflected in the state governments. Duignan & Rabushka (1980) says that due to increased federal budget deficits there seems to be little hope of mobilizing the public support necessary for a substantial increase in welfare spending. 

The welfare systems are set at politically acceptable levels. Duignan & Rabushka (1980) indicated that for example “if both the minimum welfare benefit level and the tax rate are set so that they will be acceptable in today’s political context, the cost of the welfare system balloons into tens of billions of dollars adding millions of Americans to the welfare rolls” (p. 166). On the other hand Duignan & Rabushka (1980) indicated that if the welfare benefit level is set at a politically tolerable level and the overall cost is held down the result is a tax rate that approaches confiscatory levels and destroys the financial incentive to work.

Duignan & Rabushka (1980) further indicated that if the cost is acceptable and the tax rate is low enough to create a strong financial incentive to work welfare benefits must be reduced to such a low level that the plan would have no chance of being enacted at the congress level before the same changes are imposed at state level. They also continue to say that as long as Americans believe that poor people who cannot help themselves deserve a decent level of welfare support that people’s incentive to work should not be taken away from them (Duignan & Rabushka, 1980).   The success of welfare systems in some states is based on the fact that they have been built on a clear and accurate perception of the current status of the welfare system in the United States. Duignan & Rabushka (1980) maintained that “in most states the welfare system is guided by a deep appreciation for the attitudes of the Americans toward caring people who cannot care for themselves” (p. 170). It is therefore important to take into account the public hostility toward any form of a guaranteed income when considering to-do reforms in the welfare system. Research shows that if the reform plan builds on the strengths of the current welfare system and embraces a philosophical approach that is tolerable to an accepted by the American people its chances of success are very high (Duignan & Rabushka, 1980).

Research according to Duignan & Rabushka (1980) shows that the American public will accept changes in the welfare system if they move in the direction of reorienting the system towards the needy only approach to welfare.   Duignan & Rabushka (1980) argued “that a welfare system that increases benefits to the truly needy controls costs to the taxpayers eliminates fraud and abuse and also provides strong encouragement for the people on welfare to become self-supporting socially, economically and politically” (p. 171). As a result the legislative details of such a plan would be numerous and complex, matching in size and complexity in the array of welfare programs. It should be noted that the welfare system is constantly changing in small ways as the regulations governing their implementation are adjusted by the welfare bureaucrats (Duignan & Rabushka, 1980).

Duignan & Rabushka (1980) however indicated that some relatively timeless principles that could guide the detailed development of the welfare system. The process of developing this system should not be politically, economically and socially feasible because these factors can force the implementers to work under constraints (Duignan & Rabushka, 1980). Duignan & Rabushka (1980) say that the “plan should be consistent with what mot Americans believe welfare should do; that is it must have reasonable cost, and it must efficiently and effectively provide an acceptable level of welfare benefits to the truly needy” (p.171 ).

Texas and Louisiana boarder each other which state has the most extensive welfare system?                

According to the Texas Monthly (1977) Americans still associate poverty with moral failure. The magazine continues to say that in Texas 55 per cent of poor families are headed by a person who works and works full time. The magazine says that by that time there were no welfare Cadillac’s in Texas; were a mother and child on welfare used to received only $80 a month. Texas Monthly (1977) says that the 32 million Americans who receive social security checks from the countries largest single interest group. Statistics show that about three quarters of all Texas welfare expenditures go directly into pockets of doctor’s, hospitals, nursing homes, grocery stores and landlords. Texas Monthly (1977) continues to say that “Texas has gained a national reputation for it’s tightly run welfare” (p. 5). The magazine further says that about 325,000 Texans which is about 75 percent of hem children on the AFDC rolls are les than 3 per cent of the states population. Their benefits are an average $32,06 a month hence it ranks fourth from the bottom in the whole country.

Texas Monthly (1977) says that no welfare program will ever be as good its best intentions. That means that there is no guarantee that poor families will not get the Social security funds. Texas pays no support to poor children whose father lives at home. The current biggest problem in Texas is that the bureaucracy of the welfare department is saddled with a bureaucratic nightmare (Texas Monthly, 1977). According to Capps et al (2001) Texas was one of the first states to reform its welfare system. Capps et al (2001) says that in 1995 the Texas legislature passed landmark legislation in advance of the federal personal responsibility and work opportunity.


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