Chapter 18: Objectives/Notes

question

Examine the related concepts of income distribution and relative deprivation.
answer

1. Income Distribution: describes the share of national income earned by various groups in the United States. a. The distribution of income across segments of the American population is quite uneven. b. During the 1960s and 1970s there was relatively little change in the distribution of income in America. c. The 1980s were a period when the rich got richer and the poor got poorer, with income and wages distributed more unequally among working people. 2. Relative Deprivation: the perception that one is worse off relative to those with whom one compares oneself.
question

Summarize how liberals and conservatives disagree about the conduct and impact of public assistance programs.
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1. Liberals prefer government provision of social welfare; Examples: Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps 2. Conservatives prefer private provision of social welfare and self-sufficiency; Examples: United Way, March of Dimes, Churches
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Identify the three major types of taxes and show how each can affect citizens’ incomes.
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(1) A progressive tax takes a bigger bite from the incomes of the rich than from the poor (such as a progressive income tax that takes a higher percentage of income from the wealthy). (2) A proportional tax takes the same share from everyone, regardless of income or wealth (sometimes called a \”flat rate\” tax). (3) A regressive tax takes a higher percentage from the lower income levels than from the well-to-do (such as sales taxes, which are not overtly regressive but are regressive in effect).
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Summarize the effects that social welfare programs have had on the day-today living conditions of groups of Americans, such as the poor, the young, and the elderly.
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1. Although social welfare programs have not ended poverty or reduced income inequality in America, these programs have produced substantial improvements in the day-to-day living conditions of many Americans. 2. Social welfare programs have raised many of the poor above the official poverty line.
question

Differentiate between entitlement programs and means-tested programs.
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1. Entitlement Programs: government benefits that certain qualified individuals are entitled toby law, regardless of need. (Social Security, Medicare) 2. Means-tested Programs: government programs available only to individuals below a poverty line. (Food Stamps)
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Indicate the role that entitlements play in the U.S. budgetary system.
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Entitlement programs are the most expensive social welfare programs and contribute heavily to the national debt because the spending is \”uncontrollable\”.
question

Identify the major American social welfare programs and the groups that benefit from them.
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1. Social Security = retired or disabled people and surviving members of families. 2. Medicare (Part A) = retired and disabled people. 3. Medicare (Part B) = persons 65 or over and disabled Social Security beneficiaries. 4. Unemployment Insurance (UI) = workers who have been laid off and cannot find work. 5. Medicaid = the very poor. 6. Food Stamps = people whose income falls below a certain level. 7. Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) = families with children 8. Supplementary Security Income (SSI) = elderly, blind or disabled people whose income is below a certain amount.
question

Contrast social welfare policy in the United States with that of other major Western democracies.
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1. American social welfare programs are more limited in scope than is the case in other democracies. 2. Other national governments and their citizens often take a different approach to the problems of poverty and social welfare than does the United States (such as comprehensive medical services provided through a National Health Service). a. Americans tend to see poverty and social welfare needs as individual rather than governmental concerns, while European nations tend to support greater governmental responsibility for these problems. b. Europeans often have a more positive attitude toward government, while Americans are more likely to distrust government action in areas like social welfare policy. 3. Taxes commensurate with the benefits of social policy are also commonplace in Western European nations, far exceeding those in the United States.
question

Trace the evolution of America’s social welfare programs, with emphasis on the role of the Great Depression.
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A. For centuries societies considered family welfare to be a private (not a public) concern. 1. After the turn of the century, America and other industrialized societies recognized the breakdown in family-based support networks. 2. With the growth of large, depersonalized cities and the requirements of the urban workforce, government was impelled to take a more active role in social welfare support. 3. A major change in how Americans viewed government’s role in providing social welfare came during the Great Depression. B. The New Deal and the elderly. 1. After the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, many Americans began to think that governments must do more to protect their citizens against economic downturns. 2. Social Security Act was passed.
question

Examine intergenerational equality issues that stem from the disparity in public dollars spent on the elderly as contrasted with public funds spent on children.
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In the social welfare policy arena, the competing groups are often quite unequal in terms of political resources. a. The elderly are relatively well organized and often have the resources needed to wield significant influence in support of their programs = Receive more gov’t funding. b. The poor vote less and lack strong focused organizations and money = Receive less gov’t funding.
question

Compare and contrast the views of recent presidents of both political parties toward social welfare expenditures.
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1. Johnson: The Great Society A. The 1960s brought an outpouring of federal programs to help the poor and the elderly, to create economic opportunities for those at the lower rungs of the economic ladder, and to reduce discrimination against minorities. B. Initiated antipoverty programs, community development programs, Medicare, school-aid schemes, job-retraining programs, and a host of other public programs. 2. Reagan: Limits The Great Society A. Targeted poverty programs as one major way to cut government spending; less government and more self-sufficiency. C. The growth rates of many programs were reduced, benefits were slashed, program burdens were shifted to the states, and many previously eligible recipients were removed from the rolls. 3. Clinton: Welfare Reform A. Each state would receive a fixed amount of money to run its own welfare programs. B. People on welfare would have to find work within 2 years or lose all their benefits. C. A lifetime maximum of 5 years on welfare was set.
question

Explain why policy-making in the United States is very incremental in nature.
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Although government benefits are difficult to enact, the nature of democratic politics makes it difficult to withdraw them once they are established. A. Policy-making in the United States is very incremental in nature, building on past policies. B. Tremendous pressures come from supporters to keep or expand programs and to preserve them from elimination.
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Examine the relationship between social welfare policy and the scope of government.
answer

1. Past democratic conflicts and compromises in the social welfare policy area have given America a huge social welfare bureaucracy at all levels of government. 2. Large government programs require large organizations to administer them. A.. The appropriate way to evaluate these administrative systems is not to focus on their scope or expense alone, but to weigh their scope and expense against the conduct of their mission, the goals and accomplishments of these programs, and the extent to which private nongovernmental entities could realistically be depended on to help. b. With limited financial resources and a growing national debt, choices will be even more difficult to make in the future.

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