Professor David Garland discusses the contemporary understanding of the welfare state

Professor David Garland discusses the contemporary understanding of the welfare state


Today in Britain, but especially here in
the USA the- the tendency for political debate to
utterly misrepresent what the- the welfare state is about is so shocking to
anyone who’s actually has a bit of historical consciousness, a bit of
comparative understanding that I felt that it would be a helpful intervention
to try and write a book for a general audience, this is a very inexpensive
easily accessible book, but I hope that you know every undergraduate who thinks
about taking a class in politics, or social policy of sociology could read,
but also general readers can begin. The idea was to try to explain how welfare
states work here in the USA and elsewhere, and to take on some of the
mythologies misunderstandings head-on. So, for example in this country there’s a
tendency to talk not about the welfare state, or the New Deal, or the social
state which are the right kind of framings, but to talk about welfare. And,
welfare is understood as being welfare for the poor, and welfare for the poor is
understood to be a kind of big government program that just makes things worse. Now,
the programs for the social assistance of needy people are indeed part of the
welfare state, but they are a very small part of the welfare state and they’re
the least popular part of the welfare state. In this country the respects they
mean and- and under serving of the people who need them, but the major parts of the
welfare state are actually social insurance, and social rights, and social
provision which go to employed people, middle-class people, and the hidden part
of the welfare state which is one of the major sort of heads of expenditure in the
American system are actually hidden in the tax code or forms of provision that
people in high level employment, high season employment received through
their employer things like enhanced health care, enhance retirement pensions,
things like home mortgage allowances, all of which are welfare state
redistributions towards the well-to-do rather than the poor. So, welfare’s not
for the poor, welfare is for everyone most people at some state in their life all
people at some stage in their lives will benefit from social
institutions that are welfare state in their origin.

Daniel Yohans

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