This book examines the political relationship between government social programs and private social benefits.
Hacker (political science, Yale) tries to explain why "the United States devotes much less of its economy to government social spending than do other Western nations" by meticulously tracing the history of New Deal and Great Society legislation and programs and by showing that social programs in this country have attempted to balance the values of equity and freedom. Analyzing pensions, health insurance, and private and public benefits in separate sections, he focuses on how the deeply ingrained history of employer-sponsored pensions and health insurance has swung the pendulum toward utilizing private initiatives rather than enhanced federal programs to provide Americans with social benefits. In his final chapter, Hacker discusses the future of what he calls the American welfare regime, insisting that we need to understand the connectivity and tradeoffs between public support of social programs and the increasing willingness of the federal government to entertain privatization. Written in a scholarly style, with plenty of jargon, statistical tables, charts, and graphs, and references to primary and secondary sources cited in the extensive, annotated endnotes, this is a measured analysis of an important political issue affecting all Americans. For large public libraries, most university libraries, and some four-year college libraries.-Jack Forman, San Diego Mesa Coll. Lib., CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.