Social welfare Policy and Social programs

The hyperbole about Obama's actions aside, the United States already is a social welfare state - almost right up there with the Europeans - if you measure the total amount of drain on the Treasury caused by spending and subsidies on such things as health care and retirement.

The one big difference is that in the American social welfare state, a lot of the benefits go to the rich.

"We spend a tremendous amount on private social welfare through tax subsidies, " said Christopher Faricy, a political science professor at Washington State University whose forthcoming book is about our divided welfare state.

"It just goes to a drastically different population than what we usually associate with welfare programs, " Faricy said.

Direct government social welfare spending pays for such signature programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and unemployment.

The two biggest tax breaks with a social welfare purpose are the exemptions for employer-sponsored health benefits (which cost the U.S. Treasury about $184 billion a year in foregone revenue) and for contributions to 401(k) and other retirement plans and pensions ($113 billion).

In stark contrast to social programs that involve the actual outlay of tax dollars, the tax breaks vastly favor the rich over the middle class and the poor. The biggest benefits accrue to people who can afford to put a lot away for their retirements and have generous health insurance plans. Even the charitable-donation exemption (which costs the Treasury about $43 billion a year) favors those in the higher tax brackets, because they get a bigger federal subsidy for each dollar they give.

Based on direct spending on social welfare programs as a proportion of the total economy, the U.S. (at 16.2 percent) lags behind every country in Europe except Slovakia, according to data analyzed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

By contrast, when it comes to tax breaks with a social purpose, the U.S. - at 2 percent of gross domestic product - leads the pack.

"Once tax expenditures for social welfare programs are included in social spending figures, the U.S. welfare state is a similar size to those in Europe, " Faricy said.

Faricy's research focuses on how there are essentially two American social welfare states - one for each political party - and they ebb and flow depending on which is in power. But the point is: "They both believe in massive government subsidies."

While the Democratic welfare state - based on direct spending - redistributes wealth from the middle class and the wealthy to the poor, the Republican welfare state - based on tax breaks - redistributes wealth upwards.

"The top 20 percent receive 80 percent of those benefits, " Faircy said of social welfare tax breaks.

"The middle class gets some from the Republican welfare state, but not as much as the rich, " Faricy said. And since the Democratic welfare state primarily serves the needy, "the middle class is getting squeezed at both ends, " he said.

Faricy said there's a lot of misunderstanding about the politics surrounding the Republican welfare state. While opponents of social programs often complain that what they call entitlement spending is allowed to grow unrestrained, Faricy argues that the tax expenditures are even more protected from the budget process, as there's no actual line item for the revenue that each of them costs the Treasury.

You might also like

Wealthiest Americans: Cut the deficit and Social Security.
Wealthiest Americans: Cut the deficit and Social Security.
Child Welfare: Cyber-sex exploitation by PLM Social Work
Child Welfare: Cyber-sex exploitation by PLM Social Work ...

There are now programs that are teaching young

by anotherdrunk

People to laugh at themselves and others. I saw a presentation at the Kwanzaa Holiday Gift Show this weekend by a group calling Learning thorugh Laughter that is teaching the concept of self-effacing comedy.
If a young person can laugh at their quirks and differences, then studies have shown they are less likely to engage in violence, drop out and it increases their social skills. Jamie Foxx has a program that teachs the concept of socially conscious comedy and also teaches young comedians what is 'know laughing matter' so that their awareness of social issues is increased through a genre that is recognizable to everyone -- comedy.

Consistent with social science research

by Live_Aloha

Just one of many studies that indicates 1)the sooner you help a child, the better that child's chance of succeeding 2)Such proactive spending is almost always less expensive that 'reactive' spending, i.e. preschool programs are cheaper than the prisons the failed kids are headed towards.
I hardly think pointing out that preschool teachers are making less than bus drivers or janitors is bias but yet another example of America apparently not putting much value on people who work with people.

Social Studies Program
Book (Yellow Umbrella Books)

Dist. 62 Adopts Interactive History Program In Classes  — Journal & Topics Newspapers Online
More Des Plaines students will experience through their own eyes what it was like to cast a vote to rebel against the British and live during other historical events thanks to a new program.

Prentice Hall Program Evaluation: Methods and Case Studies, 7th Edition
Book (Prentice Hall)
Spectrum Spelling, Grade 3 (Spectrum)
Book (Spectrum)
  • 11L 8.5W .43D
Geography's Impact: World Geography (Holt Social Studies Video Program)
DVD ()
Libraries Unlimited Every Book Is a Social Studies Book: How to Meet Standards with Picture Books, K-6
eBooks (Libraries Unlimited)