Social welfare policy may be described as a government’s response to basic needs such as food, housing, healthcare, and other necessities. Historically, the U.S social welfare policies can be traced back to the New Deal programs of the 1930s which were meant to counter the effects of the Great Depression, (McGhee, 171). The civil protest of the 1960s, the Great Recession of 2008, and lately the COVID-19 pandemic brought the whole world to a standstill. The above unforgettable ordeals brought about major policy responses that have been described from liberal and conservative perspectives. Social welfare policies address disparities based on gender, race, sexual orientation, and disability through civil rights legislation. Welfare policies geared toward helping the vulnerable in the community include Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Medicaid, Women Infants and Children (WIC) among other programs, (McGhee, 307). This paper explores how the rollback of social welfare policies contributed to immigration, the American economy, and the population.
Social Policy and Workers
According to social action founders and pioneers such as Jane Adams and Whitney Young, social workers should use their values and skills to advocate for the underrepresented. It is equally vital to empower the vulnerable members of society. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has called on workers to engage in social and political moves that will guarantee equal access to opportunities, employment, and resources. To ensure proper sensitization of social workers, the Council on Social Work Education requires that undergraduate and master’s curricula incorporate policy and how to engage in policy practice. The education curriculum focuses on inculcating political and civic rights such as voting in the classroom and field education.
Social workers are involved in all aspects of policymaking and governance. They seek elective posts in both the U.S Senate and the House of Representatives. Additionally, social workers have played a leading role in assisting the U.S to combat economic challenges, political instability, and civil rights reforms via their active participation in policymaking. Today, social workers assist the country in economic crises racial discrimination, and gender-based violence which have been on the rise since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Therefore, the strong social institutions and advocacy for social equality and freedom in the US over the years have impacted positively in terms of population growth and economic prosperity. Historically, the U.S is a multiracial country because people from other nations feel comfortable investing and securing jobs in the U.S due to social justice hence an increase in immigration.
Poverty and Economic Inequality
Eliminating poverty and inequality is one of the pillars of the social work profession. According to the US social welfare policy, at times it takes a crisis to introduce new policy responses some of which are short-lived hence the need for emergency responses. Essentials of emergency responses; first the U.S has no Universal social welfare program such as a family support program or Student allowances that may support its citizens during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Secondly, the high cost of living renders the American wages too thin to offset even a short-term crisis. In short, a sizeable number of people are merely two or three payslips away from poverty. Finally, economic inequality coupled with racial discrimination and class divides has rendered many people poor.
The US Supreme Court’s ruling on the Citizens United case meant that politicians could now spend an unrestricted amount of money on funding their campaigns. The ruling opened the door for wealthy aspirants to manipulate voters and poorly influence candidate selection and social policy agenda. The ruling massively increased the income inequality and accelerated the gap between the rich and the poor since policymakers proposed a corporate tax system that favors the rich.
According to statistics from reliable sources such as Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the devastating effects of COVID-19 have drastically increased poverty rates in the US compared to other developed countries. Child poverty is a greater concern. Most families are struggling financially and require cash support to bail them out of unprecedented poverty. Poverty and income inequality will only worsen the U.S economy because it reduces both the purchasing power and the income per person, (McGhee, 163) Therefore, the ever-increasing income inequality in the US should be curtailed by increasing taxation for the rich and eliminating taxes for poor families to ensure sustainable growth and development.
Social workers should uphold policies that change social structures to decrease inequalities and establish strong social justice and security institutions. People should be given more power and control over policymaking processes. The government should come up with sound economic policies that empower the common man. The devastating effects of COVID-19 rendered many citizens jobless. The first remedy is to create more employment opportunities. Emergency response funds should also be set aside for future crises. In the U.S, the rise of women and people of color to local, federal, and state positions is worth celebrating. Change is a natural process and a sign of a healthy society.
“HIST 271 Conservatism and the Rise of the New Right.” YouTube, uploaded by Jessica Kim, Web.
McGhee, Heather. The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. One World, 2022.