In the Shadow of the Poorhouse examines the origins of social welfare, both public and private, from the days of the colonial poorhouse through the current tragedy of the homeless. The book explains why such a highly criticized system persists. Katz explores the relationship between welfare and municipal reform; the role of welfare capitalism, eugenics, and social insurance in the reorganization of the labor market; the critical connection between poverty and politics in the rise of the New Deal welfare state; and how the War on Poverty of the ’60s became the war on welfare of the ’80s.
According to Katz, the American welfare system that nobody likes has been able to resist fundamental change over two centuries because of its symbiosis with the social structure and the political economy. From his analysis of the history of welfare in the United States he finds that there have always been contradictions among its goals: deterrence, discipline, compassion, control, and patronage. Real reform, unlikely in the near future, would require that both social insurance and public assistance be replaced with full employment at fair pay, complemented by a social wage to all who are unable to work or find a suitable job. A stimulating challenge to the benevolent interpretation of welfare in America; recommended for academic and large public libraries. Harry Frumerman , formerly with Economics Dept., Hunter Coll., CUNY