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Gaining Ground: Tailoring Social Programs To American Values
by Charles Lockhart
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Social policy questions present Americans with a cruel dilemma. Most of us will confront hazards, such as illness or aging, against which private personal resources are an inadequate defense. With this in mind, it becomes clear that conditions of our contemporary society make some kinds of public social programs necessary. Yet, many Americans find difficulty with state-sponsored public programs which, though aimed at providing a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens, seem to run against such American values as individualism and self-reliance. In Gaining Ground, Charles Lockhart suggests a way to reconcile this dilemma by tailoring public social programs to prominent values of American political culture.
Using the social security system as a model, Lockhart suggests that all social policy programs should draw upon five basic principles. First, they ought--as much as possible--to be based on reciprocity; those who contribute to the social product may in turn draw on that product when social hazards confront them. Second, social program assistance should generally be aimed at supplementing recipient households' efforts at self-support. Third, programs should be inclusive; benefits should be accessible to everyone within a particular program. Fourth, we should rely insofar as possible on social insurance for meeting the needs of those confronting various social hazards. And fifth, social merging programs incorporating features similar to those of social insurance are preferable to public assistance efforts. Lockhart uses these principles to develop an innovative plan for social policy that he calls an investments approach.
Gaining Ground provides an important contribution to the discussion about the dynamics and future of social policy and should elicit a range of responses from scholars and policymakers alike.
From the Inside Flap
"This book makes a major contribution to thinking about the connections between political culture and the welfare state in the United States. It addresses issues with a broad scope that makes its concerns relevant to a wide audience."--Margaret Weir, Harvard University
"Gaining Ground is a significant contribution to the field for two reasons. First, the argument itself is important and a force for good; it might actually have an impact on social welfare policies at a time when such policies are badly in need of reformulation. Second, the smooth and mutually-enriching flow among normative, theoretical and empirical analyses provides an excellent example of the kind of policy analysis that scholars ought to be undertaking."--Jennifer Hochschild, Princeton University
From the Back Cover
"This book makes a major contribution to thinking about the connections between political culture and the welfare state in the United States. It addresses issues with a broad scope that makes its concerns relevant to a wide audience." (Margaret Weir, Harvard University)
About the Author
Charles Lockhart is Associate Professor of Political Science at Texas Christian University.
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