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America's Semi Welfare State Essay

1851 words - 7 pages

The prospect of the welfare state in America appears to be bleak and almost useless for many citizens who live below the poverty line. Katz’s description of the welfare state as a system that is “partly public, partly private, partly mixed; incomplete and still not universal; defeating its own objectives” whereas has demonstrates how it has become this way by outlining the history of the welfare state which is shown that it has been produced in layers. The recent outcomes that Katz writes about is the Clinton reform in 1996 where benefits are limited to a period of two years and no one is allowed to collect for more than five years in their lifetime unless they are exempted. A person may only receive an exemption on the grounds of hardship in which states are limited to granting a maximum of 20% of the recipient population. The logic behind this drastic measure was to ensure that recipients would not become dependent upon relief and would encourage them to seek out any form of employment as quickly as possible. State officials have laid claim to this innovation as a strategy that would “save millions of children from poverty.” However, state officials predict otherwise such as an increase in homelessness, a flooding of low-waged workers in the labour market, and decreased purchasing power which means less income from tax collections. The outcomes of this reform appear to be bleak for many Americans who reside below the poverty line. How does a wealthy country like America have such weak welfare system? Drawing upon Katz, I argue that the development of the semi-welfare state is a result of the state taking measures to ensure that the people do not perceive relief as a right and to avoid exploiting the shortfalls of capitalism in addressing unemployment and poverty.
The history of capitalism in America had created an image where prosperity and opportunity were main features of American living. Any aberration from this image was presented as a fault of the individual and was never reflected upon the flaws of the capitalist system. Welfare, which is commonly perceived in a pejorative manner, presents a clear example of what moral failure looks like in the gaze of capitalists. Despite the bleak and inconsistent nature of the welfare state, Katz argues that its operation had served important purposes such as providing relief for the destitute, maintaining social hierarchies, ensuring a labour pool for the labour market and finally for political mobilization. In other words, the welfare state is a system that complements the progress and advancement of the capitalist system and has never been a program geared towards eliminating poverty. This system does not provide the opportunity to offer comprehensive solutions and strong social programs that would elevate the poor from their current socioeconomic conditions, nor will it ever attempt to do so as long as the capitalist system continues to thrive.
The political ideology that promotes the...

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