Gaining Ground

Gaining Ground

Tailoring Social Programs to American Values

Book - 1989
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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.
Publisher: Berkeley : University of California Press, c1989
ISBN: 9780520064379
0520064372
Characteristics: xi, 213 p. ; 24 cm

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