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What Government Can Do

Dealing with Poverty and Inequality

It is often said that the federal government cannot or should not attempt to address America’s problems of poverty and inequality—because its bureaucracy is wasteful or its programs ineffective. But is this true? In this book, Benjamin I. Page and James R. Simmons examine a number of federal and local programs, detailing what government action already does for its citizens and assessing how efficient it is at solving the problems it seeks to address. Their conclusion, surprisingly, is the polar opposite of the prevailing rhetoric—What Government Can Do is an insightful and compelling argument that it both can and should do more.

409 pages | 2 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2000

American Politics and Political Economy Series

Political Science: American Government and Politics, Public Policy

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
The Inequality Express
Inept or Impotent Government?
What Can Be Done
Plan of the Book
2. Poverty and Inequality in the United States
Economic Growth, Markets, and Americans’ Incomes
Poverty in the United States
Income Inequality in America
3. What Should Government Do?
Theories of Government Functions
Approaches to Poverty and Inequality
Political and Economic Obstacles
Overcoming the Obstacles
4. Social Insurance
Old Age and Survivors Insurance (Social Security)
Disability Insurance
Unemployment Insurance
Medical Insurance
The Politics of Social Insurance
Improving Social Insurance
5. Fair Taxes
The Idea of Progressivity
Federal Taxes
State and Local Taxes
Taxes and Inequality
Tax Politics
6. Investing in Education
Who Should Provide Education?
Children and Equal Opportunity
Elementary and Secondary Schools
Training for Work
Higher Education
The Politics of Education
Improving Education
7. Jobs and Good Wages
Managing the Economy
Jobs and Spending on Public Goods
Job Training and Placement
Creating Jobs
Raising Wages
International Economic Policy
Job Politics
Improving Employment and Wages
8. "Safety Nets" and Basic Needs
Circus Imagery versus Economic Rights
Medical Care
Income Maintenance
Politics: The War against the Poor
The Right to Basic Necessities
9. Conclusion
Programs That Work
What Remains to Be Done
Overcoming Political and Economic Obstacles
Government for the People

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