Archive for the ‘Social Policy’ Category

A Marshall Plan for Greece Makes Sense for Germany

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, European Politics, Financial Crisis, Full Employment, Globalization, Industrial Policy, Inequality, Liberalism, Political Ideology, Political Parties, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Public Works, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes, Trade, Welfare State on May 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm

 

by David Attewell

In 1949, Germany lay in utter ruin. World War II had devastated its people and laid waste to much of the rest of Europe. The temptation among the victors was to rain down punishment on the Germans in repayment for the catastrophic violence their militarism had brought upon the continent and the rest of the world.

Instead, the Allies heeded the lessons of Versailles, and abstained from demanding excessive reparations; the U.S infused West Germany with billions of dollars in grants and low-interest loans to rebuild its industrial economy. The Marshall Plan launched a new day for the FRG and the prosperity that followed set the conditions for a democratic, prosperous Germany with a European future.

Europe would do well today to remember these lessons as they look to the ‘Greek problem’.

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Labor Market Policy – Tackling the Pyramid

In Budget Politics, California, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Education Reform, European Politics, Financial Crisis, Full Employment, Health Care Reform, Higher Education, Housing, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes, Unions, Welfare State, Youth Policy on March 21, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Introduction:

It’s somewhat out of vogue to talk about the quality of jobs and the shape of the labor market at a time when unemployment is so high and the obvious issue is the number of jobs being created. This wasn’t the case prior to the recession, although rather specious reasons were given to justify the rapidly increasing inequality of wages as the outcome of superior education or productivity. What can’t be denied is that even before the recession, we were sliding into a highly unequal labor market in which many low-paid, insecure workers (50% of American workers made less than $26,000 or 230% of poverty in 2010) serve a small number of ever-richer elites.

This trend has only continued since the recession, and it’s a problem that has to be solved if we are to either fully recover or protect ourselves from the next recession.

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Who Are the X Percent?

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economics, Financial Crisis, History and Politics, Inequality, Occupy Wall Street, OWS, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes, Welfare State on November 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction:

The emergence of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has, if nothing else, has led to a welcome shift in political discourse away from conflicts over what kind of austerity policy to pursue and towards important questions of inequality. Unsurprisingly, this rhetoric has revolved around demography and identity:

Who are the 99%? Who is the 1%? What the hell is the 53%? And what do these labels mean when it comes to popular and other forms of political legitimacy, or arguments about political economy? Read on for some answers.

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Beyond the American Jobs Act – Labor Demand Policy

In Economic Planning, Economics, European Politics, Full Employment, Industrial Policy, Inequality, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Wisconsin on September 30, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Introduction:

One of the oddest flaws in American public policy is our persistent belief that unemployment and poverty can be dealt with in the main by improving the “employ-ability” of potential workers – in other words, by improving the quality of labor supply.

In the 1960s and 1970s, “manpower development” and “work training” were seen as the solution to moving the poor into a labor market that would surely sweep them up. When Reagan dismantled the War on Poverty and CETA, he left in place training programs as an acceptably bootstrapping policy sufficient to deal with the 1981-1983 recession. Clinton leaned especially hard on training and education as his solution to all problems – the early 90s recession, displacement from NAFTA, welfare reform, and rising inequality. While Obama has gone a step beyond mere job training with the public works of the stimulus bill, his more recent comments about “winning the future” show the persistent strength of supply-oriented labor market policy.

What a shame that it doesn’t work.

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De-commodifying Housing

In Economic Planning, Economics, Financial Crisis, History and Politics, Housing, Liberalism, New Deal, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy on August 18, 2011 at 12:31 am

Introduction:

If the Great Recession has one common thread that links the U.S, much of the E.U (Ireland, Spain, the U.K), and the rest of the world, it’s our common mistake of treating housing as a speculative commodity whose purpose is to create profits for investors, rather than structures that serve a basic human need for shelter and sanctuary. Even those nations which avoided a housing bubble themselves (like France or Germany) got themselves involved through their banking industries, who lent and speculated into the housing bubbles.

If we want to get out of our current economic stagnation and avoid future housing bubbles, the logical place to start is to de-commodify housing.

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Education Reform – the Fix is In

In Democratic Governance, Education Reform, European Politics, Higher Education, Inequality, Liberalism, Political Ideology, Political Parties, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Unions, Youth Policy on July 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Introduction:

In any other area of public policy where we see rich hedge-funders providing government agencies with private funds with strings attached, demanding control over choice of administrators and direction of public policy (such as was the case with various foundations and the D.C schools), and financing the opponents of elected officials who disagree with them (such as was the case with the 2010 city council race in New York City), we’d call it corruption by a special interest group.

Yet with education reform, prominent liberals treat it as acceptable and instead turn the traditional liberal analysis of “special interests” on teachers unions instead.

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Psychology of Public Policy – IHSS as a Model for a New Welfare State

In Budget Politics, California, Child Care, Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, History and Politics, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Welfare State, Youth Policy on April 27, 2011 at 4:30 am

Introduction:

(For previous parts in this series, see here)

One tricky dilemma that progressives have had to face about the welfare state has been the contradiction between our desire to provide universal protection against the great social ills (poverty, disease, lack of education, poor housing, and unemployment), which tends to be broadly supported by society, and society’s resistance to violations of the social norm of reciprocity. The easiest attack on welfare has always been to assert that other people are getting something for nothing and thus divide society between the payer and payee.

While progressives ran headlong into the brick wall of social resistance in the welfare politics of the 1970s, it’s not foreordained that all forms of social welfare have to meet the same fate. It is possible to be both right and smart – and learn to tack into the wind of public opinion.

Looking at the IHSS model gives us one possible solution for how to do just that.

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Hunting the Elephant in the Room: Inequality (Part III – Transfers and Pre-Tax)

In Budget Politics, Economic Planning, Economics, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Political Parties, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes, Welfare State on April 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Introduction:

In part 1, I discussed the emerging intellectual critical mass on inequality; in part 2, I discussed how our tax system can be made into a great engine of egalitarianism. Today I want to talk about the remaining major areas of public policy that can act against inequality – namely our post-tax transfer system and our pre-tax regulatory state.

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Hunting the Elephant in the Room: Inequality (Part II – Taxes)

In Budget Politics, Economic Planning, Economics, Financial Crisis, Inequality, Liberalism, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes on April 8, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Introduction:

In part 1 of “Hunting the Elephant in the Room,” I discussed the emerging critical mass in inequality studies and how that might be harnessed to the public’s unheralded egalitarian values. However, coming to the realization that “policy can reduce inequality” is not the same thing as knowing what kind of policy to push for.

The first thing to understand is that there are many different ways for reducing inequality. Broadly speaking, policy approaches to inequality can be categorized by when in the economic process they take place – pre-tax interventions into the socio-economic order, the tax system, and then post-tax transfers.

Today, I’ll discuss how our tax system can be turned into an engine for equality.

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Hunting the Elephant in the Room: Inequality (Part I)

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Taxes, Welfare State on April 7, 2011 at 1:00 am

Introduction:

Sometimes in the history of public policy, an intellectual critical mass on how to deal with a problem is achieved in advance of the political system’s readiness to incorporate this new knowledge. One of the best examples of this is the “rediscovery” of poverty in the U.S during the late 1950s by writers like Michael Harrington, Oscar Lewis, Gabriel Kolko, and others. All of these writers laid the groundwork for the War on Poverty several years before Lyndon Johnson would assemble the necessary Democratic majority to make it happen.

We can see something of a similar moment today in regards with inequality. Scholars are increasingly turning their attention to the issue and returning with novel insights, the issue of inequality is becoming more pressing in the popular press despite the conventional wisdom-makers’ resistance to talking about it, and we are beginning to see the outlines of an intellectual critical mass that could serve as the basis for a policy agenda.

In part 1 of “Hunting the Elephant in the Room,” I’ll talk about what what the current trend in inequality studies can teach us, and whether there’s an opening in public opinion for this new approach. In part 2, I’ll discuss how this knowledge can be applied to our taxation system, and in part 3, how to extend anti-inequality thinking into the murky area of “pre-tax inequality;” i.e, the world we live in.

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