HHHHHH    HHHHHH
HHHHHH    HHHHHH
HHHHHH    HHHHHH
HHHHHH    HHHHHH
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
HHHHHHHHHHH HH H EEEE TTTTT     Humanities
HHHHHH    H  H H E      T       OnLine
HHHHHH    H H  H EEE    T       Web Site
HHHHHH    H HH H E      T       
HHHHHH    H HH H EEEE   T       H-STATE

New Federalism Thread

New federalism [ 27 Sep 1995 ]
The current public debate about Republican plans to leave to the states the responsibility to create their own welfare programs raises a number of questions that I hope subscribers to H-State might address. It would seem that in the current context, proposals to allow the states "freedom" to experiment is another way of eliminating a basic entitlement that has been established on a national basis for the last 60 years. Giving authority back to the states, with reduced funding from the federal government in the form of block grants, seems most likely to have the effect of reducing the total amount of money being spent on the poor.

The question I would pose is when did the idea of allowing states to serve as "laboratories of democracy" (as Brandeis called them) take on its current meaning? When this argument in favor of decentralization was made earlier in the century it had a certain resonance for progressives and those to the left of center. Some time ago, in fact, Gabriel Kolko argued that in the area of business regulation, centralization was supported by conservatives, while progressives sought to maintain control over business at the state and local level. Why is that over the course of the twentieth century, decentralization has come to be a rallying cry for conservatives?

Larry Gerber, Co-Editor H-State         gerbelg@mail.auburn.edu
History Dept.                           (334) 844-6646
Auburn University                       fax: (334) 844-6673

Auburn, AL 36849-5207 New Federalism

New federalism [ 28 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 16:47:34 -0500
From: Kirsten Gronbjerg <KGRONBJ@wpo.it.luc.edu>

Handler and Hasenfeld in THE MORAL CONSTUCTION OF POVERTY make a cogent argument for why decentralization in welfare is particularly likely to be associated with conservative perspectives. They argue that the contradictions between symbolism (the ideological need to support the work ethic) and the actual operations of welfare programs are most easily hidden at the local levels.

Kirsten Gronbjerg New Federalism

New federalism [ 29 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 18:48:06 -0400 (EDT) From: MROSENTHAL@mecn.mass.edu

In teaching social welfare history (to social work students), I make a big point (as does Trattner, the book we use) that a crucial action which impeded federal involvement in social welfare matters was the "Pierce veto" of 1856. Dorothea Dix, who had previously been successful in getting various states to build mental hospitals, appealed to Congress to sell federal land and give the proceeds to the states to help erect more institutions. Pierce vetoed the measure, stating that :" If Congress has the power to make provision for the indigent insane...it has the same power to make provision for the indigent who are not insane....I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for making the Federal Govt the great almoner of public charity throughout the United States." He referred to the constitutional provision that powers not granted to the federal govt are reserved to the states. It has been my understanding that one of the reasons the SSAct took the form it did was that Roosevelt was specifically worried about a S.C. finding of unconstitutionality if, e.g., individuals were not payees into the retirement system (on the one hand), and on the other (ADC, among others) the legal arrangement was grants-in-aid to the states to subsidize their benefits to individuals.

The whole situation now is totally outrageous to anyone who knows the real history of the development of these programs--indeed, that there is now (and always has been ) enormous discretion in the states--esp. with regard to the level of assistance.

Marguerite Rosenthal
Salem State College (MA)
MRosenthal@mecn.mass.edu New Federalism

New federalism [ 29 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Fri, 29 Sep 95 9:22:04 EDT
From: Greg Field <gfield@gandalf.rutgers.edu>

This is an excerpt from two documents that I recently read: David Lilienthal (then a Wisconsin utility commissioner) to Donald Richberg, following the 1931 Progressive Conference, explaining why he opposed federal legislation to regulate utility holding companies:
"We are none of us theoretical state's right people, [but] there is more hope for regulatory success" at the state level. Relying on Washington, "puts all of one's eggs in one basket [and] much or all might then depend upon three men appointed by the President."

After 8 years of the FDR administration, from a May 1941 memo on TVA policy:
"No one can deny that most state governments are less efficient that the Federal government. That is our actual experience in this country. The Federal government is usually more progressive, more advanced, in thinking and execution, and less inflicted with the corruption of politics, than most states."
The second statement reveals much, I think, regarding the differences between rhetoric/ideology and real policy-making. Lilienthal was one of the tribunes of the ideology of "grass roots democracy." But though Lilienthal extolled the virtues of the grass roots in his rhetoric, he had little use for any actual dispersal of authority in his politics and policies. It's my sense that much the same is true for much of the New Federalist rhetoric. Look at what they do and not what they say. Greg Field
Rutgers University
gfield@gandalf.rutgers.edu New Federalism

New federalism [ 29 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 11:30:19 -0400 (EDT) From: Mike Meeropol <mmeeropo@kraken.mvnet.wnec.edu>

All this discussion about New Federalism and what it really entails (breaking the New Deal social compact of [at least partial] entitlement) suggests that the role of people with our expertise and knowledge is to develop a research and dissemination agenda and strategy that documents _what actually occurs in the States_ as they "reform" welfare. Here in Massachusetts, we've just begun a particularly draconian program (which will get worse once Congress removes the requirement to get federal waivers). I know Wisconsin has a number of years under its belt with its program --- and I believe there are a number of other states who have been granted waivers in recent years. We have to begin to track them, state by state, and document, a) how much money in the end the states REALLY save, and b) how many people who leave the welfare rolls actually get jobs --- and what KIND of jobs, and c) whether this has any state-wide impact on the macro-economy

We have to recognize that no matter what happens in 1996, whether Clinton, Dole/Wilson/Gingrich, or Powell/Perot win the Congressional majority and even the Democratic opposition is Hell bent to rend the safety net like Reagan never dreamed he could accomplish --- all in the name of BALANCING THE BUDGET (another unbelievable shuck that I wish could be exposed). The only way to battle back is to take a long term approach.

All the best, Mike
--
Mike Meeropol
Economics Department
Cultures Past and Present Program
Western New England College
Springfield, Massachusetts
"Don't blame us, we voted for George McGovern!" Unrepentent Leftist!!
mmeeropo@wnec.edu
[if at bitnet node: in%"mmeeropo@wnec.edu" but that's fading fast!] New Federalism

New federalism [ 29 Sep 1995 ]


[Editor's note: Below is a response to Mike Meeropol's observation on the need for data relating to welfare and another message from Meeropol that reinforces his original point. LG]

Date: Fri, 29 Sep 95 21:18:07 EDT
From: Fred Carstensen <CARSTEN@UConnVM.UConn.Edu>

Meeropol recognizes what the "right wing" (not conservatives, per se) discovered in the Reagan years: if you destroy the information on which arguments are based--e.g. by not collecting it--you dramatically uncut the argument's validity. It is fairly common to hear in Congress declarations that, for instance, the study of ecology is a plot to undermine the economy and should be stopped--yes, a congressman from Arkansas (!) said this. So much for the search for truth and justice; they got trampled by the American way!

Fred Carstensen


>From mmeeropo@kraken.mvnet.wnec.eduFri Sep 29 20:46:01 1995 Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 18:11:51 -0400 (EDT)

In Thursday's Wall St. Journal a couple of folks from the Cato Institute publish the usual garbage about how "generous" welfare is. They do this by comparing AFDC + FOOD STAMPS + MEDICAID + (you get the picture) with low wage jobs and find, surprise surprise that the three generous welfare programs pay more. Their solution, cut benefits drastically.

Somebody with access to data needs to write them a letter showing how MUCH of the generous stuff they calculate (they do a state by state analysis

How many low-wage non-medicaid receiving workers pay the equivalent out of pocket!

This dishonesty is appalling and it happens all the time. Would anyone like to put together some information for a response?

I hope a number of responses are faxed to the Journal next week. It'll be interesting to see if they run any of them!

Good luck to us, Mike Meeropol
--
Mike Meeropol
Economics Department
Cultures Past and Present Program
Western New England College
Springfield, Massachusetts
"Don't blame us, we voted for George McGovern!" Unrepentent Leftist!!
mmeeropo@wnec.edu
[if at bitnet node: in%"mmeeropo@wnec.edu" but that's fading fast!] New Federalism

New federalism [ 29 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 21:47:48 EDT
From: Mark Graber <MGRABER@bss2.umd.edu>

I am curious as to people's thoughts as to why liberals had uniformly turned against federalism by the end of the New Deal (remember, after all, Brandeis in Schechter telling FDR's boys to go back to the states). One hypothesis is simply that the New Deal just convinced liberals that nationalization was the way to go. I am wondering, however, whether the fight against race segregation also significantly influenced Deweyites of the problems of local government. Any thoughts?

Mark A. Graber
mgraber@bss2.umd.edu Politics of the Pierce Veto of 1854 (was New Federalism)

Politics of the Pierce Veto of 1854 (was New Federalism) [ 30 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Sat, 30 Sep 95 09:08:28 -0600
From: James W Oberly <joberly@uwec.edu> Hello, H-State colleagues:

In a post yesterday about the "New Federalism", Marguerite Rosenthal

>In teaching social welfare history (to social work students), I make a big >point (as does Trattner, the book we use) that a crucial action which >impeded federal involvement in social welfare matters was the "Pierce veto" >of 1856. Dorothea Dix, who had previously been successful in getting >various states to build mental hospitals, appealed to Congress to sell >federal land and give the proceeds to the states to help erect more institu- >tions. Pierce vetoed the measure, stating that :" If Congress has the power to >make provision for the indigent insane...it has the same power to make pro- >vision for the indigent who are not insane....I cannot find any authority in >the Constitution for making the Federal Govt the great almoner of public char- >ity throughout the United States." He referred to the constitutional provision >that powers not granted to the federal govt are reserved to the states.

Permit me to give some background on the politics of Franklin Pierce's veto of the proposed land grant on behalf of the indigent insane. The 33rd Congress, meeting in 1854, did pass the so-called "Dix bill" with the provision of granting ten million acres out of the public domain in the form of scrip or warrants to the states, which could then resell the land to private buyers and use the proceeds for building and maintaining asylums. As Prof. Rosenthal notes, the bill got its name from the energetic lobbying of Dorothea Dix.

The 33rd Congress was an important one in the making of public land policy. Congress debated a homestead bill that would have awarded public land at no cost to actual settlers. It also debated numerous bills to make donations of public land for the purposes of aiding construction of railroads. In addition, Congress debated granting public land as a form of pension to veterans of the War of 1812 and various Indian wars.

The Pierce Administration favored some and opposed others of these grants and donations of the public domain. In its deliberations, the Administration was not only motivated by a states rights philosophy. It did approve railroad land grants that were within a single state (which contradicted Andrew Jackson's old reasoning in the Maysville Road veto of 1830). Instead, President Pierce, if not a majority of Democrats, argued that land grants to various causes were acceptable only if they were revenue neutral to the Treasury. In other words, new land grants were permissable only if they did not diminish the stream of revenue coming from existing public land sales. By this reasoning, railroad land grants were acceptable since the remaining public land alongside the proposed road was doubled in price from $1.25 an acre to $2.50. Homestead never made it through the 33rd Congress, but when it passed a subsequent one, it, too, was vetoed by a Democratic president. The Dix bill did pass comfortably but Pierce vetoed it because it was not revenue neutral. What of the 34 million acres granted to War of 1812 veterans by the 33rd Congress? Congress agreed with the claims of the "United Brethren of the War of 1812" that the country owed the old vets a "just debt." The President agreed and a few months after vetoing the Dix bill, Pierce signed the "Old Soldiers bill" that gave away three times as much in acreage as had been intended for the benefit of the indigent insane.

Anyone on H-State interested in following the lobbying and roll calls on the land question in the 33rd Congress can consult my _Sixty Million Acres: American Veterans and the Public Lands before the Civil War_ (1990). New Federalism

New federalism [ 1 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Sun, 01 Oct 95 05:48:34 EDT
From: PHALL@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.Edu
To add a little fuel to the fire, folks interested in these issues, especially
as they unfold on the state and local levels, ought to be sure to read the following:

Lester M. Salamon, PARTNERS IN PUBLIC SERVICE: GOVERNMENT-NONPROFIT RELATIONS IN THE MODERN WELFARE STATE (Johns Hopkins, 1995)

Salamon has been looking at the "new federalism" for fifteen years and has done many state and regional studies as well as high-level examinations of national policy. This book will blow away whatever Tocquevillian illusions you may have harbored about voluntary organizations in the setting of the modern American welfare state. First, Salamon suggests that nonprofits have been the major vehicle for carrying out welfare state policies -- which explains why most (like 90%) of secular nonprofits have come into being since 1950 -- and why government is the largest source of direct revenue for most secular nonprofits (tho' this varies by industry). Secondly, Salamon's work implies that the "new federalism" has roots that lie good deal deeper than the last Congressional elections.

Steven Rathgeb Smith & Michael Lipsky, NONPROFITS FOR HIRE: THE WELFARE STATE IN THE AGE OF CONTRACTING (Harvard, 1993).

Like Salamon, Smith & Lipsky have been looking at the emergence of the new polity for many years. Though the book somewhat overreaches itself -- it is hard to make overarching generalizations about phenomena that vary significantly from state to state -- this book does the best job yet of describing the new institutional infrastructure resulting from privatization, contracting, and deinstitutionalization.

Kirsten Gronbjerg, UNDERSTANDING NONPROFIT FUNDING: MANAGING REVENUES IN SOCIAL SERVICES AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS (Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1993). The title of this book does not do it justice -- for it is far more than a treatise on financial management. It gives the most detailed and suggestive account of how the nonprofit organizations which do the public's work in the new polity actually operate. Grounded in a decade of work on human services contractors in Illinois -- and setting forth their activities in the relatively resource rich 1980s --, the book will give you the framework for grasping what is likely to occur as states struggle to allocate block grants and deal with shrinking resources during the 90s.

Jennnifer Wolch, THE SHADOW STATE: GOVERNMENT AND THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR IN TRANSITION (Foundation Center, 1990). A prescient overview of the devolution of power and public responsibilities from federal government to the states and from public to private sectors. Wolch's earlier books on deinstitutionlization and institutional geography ensure that her insights are not "shot from the hip." The book is of particular value because of its comparative focus on the US and the UK.

Julian Wolpert, PATTERNS OF GENEROSITY IN AMERICA? WHO'S HOLDING THE SAFETY NET (Twentieth Century Fund, 1993). Wolpert's little volume effectively and learnedly demolishes the New Right's notion that private giving can make up for public expenditure by showing how geographically selective philanthropy is in the US. Selective generosity (both in terms of where people give and what they support) ensures that the devolutionary public policies of the New Federalism will have catastrophic effects both on efforts to maintain minimum levels of service provision and on the institutions of civil society.

Much as I hate to recommend it, understanding the New Federalism also requires reading Marvin Olasky's THE TRAGEDY OF AMERICAN COMPASSION (Regnery, 1992). Most of us are inclined to see the Contract on America as the product of "irritable gestures that pass for thought" (as Richard Hofstadter branded the writings of the Populists). Olasky -- the prophet who Newt & Company are following -- preaches radically redefined concepts of charity, philanthropy, and moral responsibility. The book helps explain why the Right is not only dismantling the welfare state, but directing its animus against nonprofits (the AARP, the Istook Amendment, &c.) -- the reason being that, following Olasky, they are hostile in principle to associational activity of almost every kind. (Readers are into early 19th century religious debates will find strong echoes of the anti-institutionalism of Francis Wayland and the early W.E. Channing here).

Also of interest in Olasky is the extent to which he represents the New Right's efforts to re-write history (though he is not an historian). A wonderful example of the Gramscian process of intellectual deputization -- but one that needs to be taken seriously.

Finally, if readers will excuse a little special pleading, as the foregoing suggests, there is a small but important multidisciplinary literature on nonprofits to which students of the New Federalism really need to pay attention. Though much nonprofits scholarship -- like education scholarship -- has been tainted by its having been developed "in a special atmosphere of professional purpose" (as Bernard Bailyn wrote of educational history), the best of it really is essential to understanding the current institutional upheaval. Mainstream scholarship in history and political science has largely ignored nonprofits, much as they have ignored state and local polities. But researchers like Salamon (a political scientist), Gronbjerg (a sociologist), Wolpert (an economic geographer), Smith & Lipsky (Pol Sci), and Wolch (an urban planner), have given us important tools and concepts. (Too bad historians have contributed so little -- though David Hammack and I have been laboring in this vineyard too).

Peter Dobkin Hall
Program on Non-Profit Organizations
Yale University New Federalism

New Federalism [ 2 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Sun, 1 Oct 1995 22:33:30 -0400
From: MSPONHOUR@aol.com

As a new member of this list, I have enjoyed reading the recent debate about New Federalism. However, it strikes me that some scholars have taken leave of their senses. The tenor of the debate is hysterical and closed-minded. It seems most of you have decided that the changes underway in Washington are unquestionably bad, part of a nefarious plot by villians and that no honest reason can be behind what is going on. Peter Dobkin Hall writes that most consider it all, in the words of Richard Hofstadter, "irritable gestures that pass for thought." Scholars like Mike Meeropol in effect are rallying the brethern to undertake research in which the conclusion is already known

Michael Sponhour New Federalism

New Federalism [ 2 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Mon, 2 Oct 1995 11:38:34 -0400
From: jim baumohl <jbaumohl@brynmawr.edu>

i disagree fundamentally with sponhour's contention that those of us who are extremely critical of the new federalism are enamored of the status quo, particularly with respect to afdc or medical care. indeed, it is possible, though hardly likely, that the defederalization of authority will provide new opportunities for progressive democratic politics. that much said, however, when it comes to assuming debt and distributing resources, there's no power like the federal power, a matter of particular importance if you are poor and live in a state like mississippi, new mexico, or maine. the history of block granting has been a history of resource cuts to poor states and poor people. it is this regressive tendency, especially pernicious when combined with the very flat tax structures of most states, that ought to disturb anyone concerned about distributive justice. frankly, anyone who finds comfort in the fact that the whole safety net will not be "sliced" has more faith in the value of much of that net than any set of facts warrants, and is more politically disabled than anyone whose posts i've seen on this list to date. as to faith in the american political system: it seems to me that we are all better served by agnosticism on that score.

in any event, none of this is particularly new -- the systematic grinding of the poor has been going on for quite some time now, and in case no one has noticed, homelessness has been a continuous public problem for almost 20 years -- it's just that the latest round is especially mean and stupid, willfully ignoring everything we know about the effects of certain welfare "reforms," for example, and everything we plausibly suspect about the no-work/bad-work future for millions of americans.

jim baumohl New Federalism

Re: New federalism [ 27 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 14:34:56 -0500 (CDT) From: Kriste Lindenmeyer <KAL6444@tntech.edu>

Larry raises a very interesting question, but I would have to disagree that the conservative "rally" around decentralization concerning social welfare issues is anything new. As Gabriel Kolko argues, it might be true for business, but it is not what I have found in my research concerning child welfare and public policy during the 20th century. Since the turn of the century conservatives denounced centralized social welfare for children (even in a benign form limited to research and advocacy under the U.S. Children's Bureau) as unwanted government intrusion on state and individual freedoms. Kriste Lindenmeyer New Federalism

Re: New Federalism [ 3 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Tue, 03 Oct 1995 05:41:39 -0400 (EDT) From: PHALL@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.Edu <Peter Hall Dobkin>

Yes, we eggsheads do have to separate our fear and scorn of the Great Beast from the need to take it seriously. Newt's polls may be dropping, but the deep changes he and his minions are putting into place are unlikely to be reversed.

Again, we need to be attentive to the fact that all this did not begin with the elections of 1994. The elections merely completed a process that had begun in the 70s. Carter, not Reagan, was the first deregulator. Deinstitutionalization, privatization, and contracting began as movements of the left, not of the right. Even in the politics of the counterculture of the 60s the anti-institutionalism and radical individualism that now so vex us (some of us, anyway) are evident.

The depth and complexity of the change defy simple political explanation. As one of those historians who were trained to study intellectual life but who shifted towards social and cultural history, what's going on draws me back to dusting off some of those old tools of enquiry that enable me to grasp what these people really think (while being no less attentive to what they're really doing!). New Federalism

Re: New Federalism [ 3 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Tue, 03 Oct 1995 14:32:51 -0400 (EDT) From: Mike Meeropol <mmeeropo@kraken.mvnet.wnec.edu>

Sorry to have been too busy to respond to M. Sponhour immediately:

> As a new member of this list, I have enjoyed reading the recent debate about > New Federalism. However, it strikes me that some scholars have taken leave of > their senses. The tenor of the debate is hysterical and closed-minded.

Reread the sentence before this last one ...

> It
> seems most of you have decided that the changes underway in Washington are > unquestionably bad, part of a nefarious plot by villians and that no honest > reason can be behind what is going on.

Perhaps my short-hand way of writing didn't make clear that this "nefarious plot by villians" had a logic --- the logic of the market being more important than human solidarity and that any system of redistribution of income that doesn't severely means-test the recipients is not acceptable. It is actually irrelevant what the MOTIVES of the "villians" in this situation are --- the important point is what they are doing. I stand behind my comment that they are attempting to remove the New Deal commitment of entitlement symbolized by the Social Security Act of 1935. Henceforth, the poor will receive their transfers as a matter of "discretionary charity" on the part of state and local governments rather than as a matter of _citizenship_ as before.

> Peter Dobkin Hall writes that most
> consider it all, in the words of Richard Hofstadter, "irritable gestures > that pass for thought." Scholars like Mike Meeropol in effect are rallying > the brethern to undertake research in which the conclusion is already known > - devolving power to states and localities is terrible.

The research I wanted people to undertake would be to TEST whether the results will be as the scholars of the New Right predict. Of course I believe that they will be proven wrong. I think the 19th and the early 20th century proved the futility of a laissez faire approach to poverty and economic instability for capitalist market economies. But of course, I could be wrong -- that's what the research is all about.

Haven't you ever heard of people starting to do research with a PRETTY GOOD IDEA what they were going to find? In fact, don't we sometimes enjoy reading when people admit that what they found SURPRISED them?

> That's not research,
> that's politics. And it is no different than the sins of which you often > correctly accuse the New Right.

The only sin the New Right is guilty of is to consistently IGNORE all arguments and evidence presented against their point of view. And not all New Right scholars do this/though most New Right columnists and politicians do!!

> Now it may very well be that everything Newt > is pushing is awful, I am willing to buy that. But how can I trust any > assessment if the authors have such an obvious, vested interest in the > current system to the point that you seem unwilling to acknowledge that any > flaws exist?

I haven't been on H-State in over a year and just got back on. I find it hard to believe that H-State participants are blind to the flaws in the current system. The major point that needs to be made is that the flaws are probably NOT the ones pushed by the New Right (for example: that the explosion of teenage pregnancy is caused by AFDC... -- fact: teenage pregnancy rates have been dropping for decades, the problem is that teenage marriage rates have been dropping FASTER, thereby RAISING the teenage unwed pregnancy rates --- query: would we be better off with more shotgun marriages?).

> Certainly, even an "unrepentent leftist" has to admit that the > welfare system is not exactly clicking along with no problems. If you had a > little more confidence in the American political system, you might calm down > a bit: Newt's polls are dropping like a rock each week as more changes are > pushed to Medicaid ect. The entire safety net is not going to be sliced. >
> Michael Sponhour

Ending entitlement status is a big first step. After that pressure to balance the budget dissolves all objections to cutting the net where the defenders are least powerful.

For the record: My request for a research agenda was not based on DEFENSE of the current system but at disgust and dismay at the NEW SYSTEM that the Congress is putting in before our eyes and that Bill Clinton will probably sign. I think the least we can do while misery, etc. expands is to DOCUMENT it so that the public, when they wake up from their balanced budget hypnotic state might be willing to reinstate entitlement status for the poor --- or even go further towards a European style system of family allowances.

--
Mike Meeropol
Economics Department
Cultures Past and Present Program
Western New England College
Springfield, Massachusetts
"Don't blame us, we voted for George McGovern!" Unrepentent Leftist!!
mmeeropo@wnec.edu
[if at bitnet node: in%"mmeeropo@wnec.edu" but that's fading fast!] New Federalism

Re: New Federalism [ 5 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Thu, 05 Oct 1995 06:00:21 -0400 (EDT) From: Peter Dobkin Hall <PHALL@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.Edu>

Some of us have been doing serious research in this area -- work which began long before last year's elections. I completed the first phase of a study of human services contracting in Connecticut, 1975-1995 which I would be happy to share with anyone interested. The findings are not cheering. Contracting and privatization has been expensive, corrupt, and unmonitorable -- and block grants promise to make the situation worse. Though advocates justify privatized service providers more responsive and flexible, the reality is quite different. In many states, organizations which used to represent clients and their families (such as the ARCs -- Associations for Retarded Citizens -- have been taken over by the service providers and turned into lobbying entities (while the clients and their families have been left voiceless). In the meantime, state legislators of both parties have become involved in lucrative wheeling and dealing in group home management contracts and real estate. (In CT, the chairman of the state Democratic party was busted for charging $150K for handling 7 group home real estate closings -- which normally should have cost no more than $20K. Turned out he also owned the property being sold and controlled the nonprofit corporations making the purposes).

The notion that state legislators are more sensitive to voter or anyone else's needs is simply absurd. Most people don't even know who their state rep is (though the special interests certainly do!). My experiences in interviewing even the smartest and most liberal state reps in CT were not encouraging. One fella, who served as speaker of the House for a decade, knew nothing about the series of enactments that led to the creation of the multi-billion dollar nonprofit holding company that controls most of the state's group homes. And I don't think he was being disingenuous. These folks, even at their best, do politics -- they don't make policy.

But again, let's be cautious: the New Federalism is not a simple right wing movement, nor can it be simply identified with the GOP. The roots of the movement lie deep and include an assortment of groups from the right and left. (I doubt that the major critics of state mental institutions and training schools would be considered right wingers -- but their arguments are used by the right to justify privatizing services). New Federalism

Re: New Federalism [ 5 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Thu, 05 Oct 1995 18:07:40 -0400 (EDT) From: Fred Carstensen <CARSTEN@UConnVM.UConn.Edu>

Don't link "the free market" with efforts to dismantle the social safety net (i.e. the welfare system); Glenn Lowry among others recognizes and argues that if one is to have a competitive market there will be those hurt by that process; they must have a "net" so that they can re-enter the competition. Marc Plattner made the same argument 10 years ago. Indeed, no one who truly believes in the virtues of the market could/should argue for dismantling welfare, rather their attention should be on efficacy in giving people the wherewithal (skills and access to capital) with which to compete. The Gingrich rhetoric has pointed in this direction, but substantively the policies he advocates have no linkage whatsoever with this objective.

If you want a really frightening insight (incite?) into Gingrich, read the current New Yorker article on him.

FC New Federalism in Action

New Federalism in action [ 6 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 13:09 -0500 (EST) From: Mary Schweitzer <SCHWEITZ@UCIS.VILL.EDU>

The problem with the entire philosophy of "new federalism" is simple and should be obvious: State boundaries are false borders; state jurisdiction false polities.

This was not so in 1787. Basic sovreignty rested in the state legislatures. This is what made James Wilson's rewording "We the PEOPLE" so radical -- yet it expressed very well the new sense of identity that had come out of the experience of unifying to fight a Revolution against the British government. The sheer pleasure of the public in this new identification can be seen in the celebration of Washington as a unifying figure, and the celebration of various symbols of nationhood such as the eagle, the 13 stars, etc.

Until the Civil War, most of what was important went on within states and localities. Slavery, however, could not be so contained -- ironically because the SOUTHERN states wished to impose THEIR perspective on reluctant NORTHERNERS in the form of a stiffened Fugitive Slave Act, the Dred Scott decision, and squabbling over western lands (how's that for a different take on the states' rights issue?)

The American economy and American society were increasingly blending on a national level through the 1800s and the early 1920s because of the railroad, the growth of mass distribution and mass production, mass communications, rapidly shrinking costs of travel (oops, that should be early 1900s up there!) etc. As Weibe pointed out some years ago, it was very telling when Americans quit defining themselves by location (I'm from Ohio) and began defining themselves by occupation (I'm a professor).

Today, the state borders obstruct more than they clarify. As a simple example, the city of Philadelphia is the center of a large, highly populated region that (for want of a better term) gets called either the Philadelphia area or the "Delaware Valley". It serves residents of southern New Jersey and northern Delaware. But throw sovreignty back to the states, and what do you have? The New Jersey and Delaware residents get to benefit from the close presence of a large city without having to pay a penny towards its costs; and residents of Erie, PA, are asked to pick up the tab for a city that is a good 4-5 hours east and contributes nothing positive (that I can think of) to the well being of the citizens of that town. They result is Philadelphia is underfunded; Philadelphia suburbanites in New Jersey and Delaware undertaxed; suburbanites in southeastern PA ALSO undertaxed, though less than the NJ and DE suburbanites; and the hapless residents of Erie, PA are OVERtaxed.

I thought this was a marvelous example of what may well be in store as the administration of social service funds are "devolved" onto the states:

Front page, Philly Inquirer, 10/4/95:

New Jersey halted yesterday its years-old practice of shipping addicted probationers to drug-recovery programs in Pennsylvania without notifying Pennsylvania officials. ... The announcement came two days after The Inquirer reported that New Jersey had, over the last five years, quietly shipped about 1,000 drug-addicted felons to out-of-state recovery houses in violation of interstate agreements. The agreements, known as interstate compacts, were routinely flouted by New Jersey officials who blamed their actions on a shortage of in-state treatment programs.

About 850 of the criminals, who primarily went to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, were on probation. The rest were unauthorized parolees who were recalled by New jersey corrections officials four months ago.

Many of the criminals were sent to loosely supervised boarding houses in Philadelphia. Scores obtained voter-registration cards, which they used to prove state residency when signing up for Pennsyvania welfare benefits.

Pennsylvania officials are now attempting to calculate how much the practice cost state taxpayers.

I will point out that Christie Whitman, governor of NJ, is a rising Republican known for fiscal-conservatism -- HEY, way to reduce those superfluous costs in the budget. Watch what happens when the states are ALL set free to "innovate" with such cost-cutting measures.

Mary Schweitzer, Villanova University New Federalism in Action

Re: New Federalism in action [ 6 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 23:02:24 -0400 (EDT) From: Fred Carstensen <CARSTEN@UConnVM.UConn.Edu>

Mary S. makes a very useful contribution; indeed, the Commerce Clause was not really developed clearly as a way of curtialing state authority until the 1870s and 1880s -- because that is when business invested in a series of legal challenges to discriminatory state and local regulation and/or taxation to confront the Supreme Court with the issues. Singer and Swift were leaders in this "nationalization" of the rules environment. Though there has been a great deal of disucssion of the welfare "reforms", the Gingrich alliance is also rewriting a lot of other law, and at least some elements in the business community are getting very nervous--e.g. the proposed 20% cut in the SEC budget is almost unanimously opposed by Wall Street.

It may also be worth reflecting that there are (at least) two different lines of reasoning in the current restructuring. One says that the federal government is too distant and too awkward; return these critical functions to the states where government is "closer to the people." That line accepts that there are a fundamental array of services/activities which government ought to perform. But there is another line which is just hostile to government at any level; all government is "rent-seeking" burdensome extractive etc.--government provides no "value added". And at least some of the effort to return responsibility to the states is a means to achieve this second objective.

And what was the role of social scientists in creating a belief that the government does no good or is only the captive of the "dominant class"?

FC New Federalism in Action

Re: New Federalism in action [ 7 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Sat, 07 Oct 1995 06:26:22 -0400 (EDT) From: Peter Dobkin Hall <PHALL@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.Edu>

I take exception to the suggestion that states are irrelevant! The differences been state political cultures are tremendously important, esecially in the context of the New Federalism. For example, contracting regimes in states with operating systems of county government are very different from those in states where all power comes from state-level agencies. With regard to nonprofit organizations (a crucial element in the New Federlists' system of social provision), state laws and monitoring and oversight capacities vary significantly. Again, there are major differences between states with regard to the political culture of their legislatures: in some states, legislators serve full-time and are seriously engaged in the policy process; in others, they serve part-time and are mere politicians.

The failure of scholars to give states serious attention has seriously impaired our ability to foresee the consequences of the current institutional revolution! New Federalism in Action

Re: New Federalism in action [ 9 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Mon, 09 Oct 1995 09:46:52 -0400
From: jim baumohl <jbaumohl@brynmawr.edu>

Hall is absolutely correct to insist on the importance of state political cultures. In my own bailiwick, social welfare history (broadly construed), this is so obvious as to barely need mention. Recently, Sarah Tracy and I have examined the management of drunks and addicts by the states of California and Massachusetts between 1891 and 1920, finding some interesting similarities, but also some profound differences related to the geo-politics of each state and their very different administrative capacities. Baumohl and Tracy, "Building Systems to Manage Inebriates ...," Contemporary Drug Problems, 21:4 (Winter 1994), 557-97.

But quite apart from historical considerations, Hall's specific points are important and well-taken. States like California and Pennsylvania have startling and consequential differences in the structure of government and sites of taxation. For a variety of reasons, but in part because of how public schools are funded, I doubt that local California governments are as keen to defrock non-profits as are a growing number of Pennsylvania townships, including my own (which has just sued my employer, Bryn Mawr College, among others).

As the defederalization of various programs unfolds, the battles over policy will just be beginning. AFDC, for example, might assume dozens of different state-administered forms, some of them further refracted through county governments. (Not unlike the early history of food stamps in California, where some counties were permitted to persist with the old commodities program for some years.) While the argument can be made that such decentralization brings government closer to the people, in reality what it usually does is bring government closer to the dominion of local elites.

jim baumohl New Federalism in Action

Re: New Federalism in action [ 11 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 10:01 -0500 (EST) From: Mary Schweitzer <SCHWEITZ@UCIS.VILL.EDU>

Bauhmohl and Hall miss the point. Yes, there are different state political cultures. But the BORDERS, the BOUNDARIES that define states are not necessarily functional.

I will admit it is quite different in California. That state is defined with sufficient size that many issues can be retained within its borders. But the immigration issue for California is just one example of a national policy which is borne disproportionately by a state.

As Bill Bradley noted, why states? What is the logical reason for the state of Pennsylvania to control funding having to do with the Delaware Valley, and Philadelphia in specific?

What does it MEAN for state policies to differ on certain issues? How much do we know about that?

I do have to admit it is with irony that I bring this up, because for some time I have been working on a study of the ratification process two hundred years ago, and I have a good deal of research on the economic policies effected by governments, and the political economies within different regions, in the 13/14 commonwealths of the 1700s. And I have used the laboratory analogy myself -- I believe that many of Pennsylvania's successful policies were imitated by other colonial legislatures, and I was personally interested in the shift in thinking when Pennsylvanian's innovated away from the established theories in Britain.

Had the Supreme Court not come stomping in and denied states the innovative social welfare legislation of the turn of the century, we might have had a different history in that vein.

     BUT.
     Keep in mind that segregation was also an innovative
legislative strategy of southern states.
     And be aware that the entire reason we HAVE a Constitution,

and a strong centralized government, is that there were areas even back in the 1780s where state policies conflicted to the extent that it caused inter-state conflict.

Patent enforcement is a small thing with large consequences, and it could not be enforced before the Constitution was ratified. Follow the efforts to get a patent for the "first" (in quotation marks because more than one inventor claimed the first) steamboat.

We also need to think about WHY welfare policy was shifted from state to national jurisdiction in the first place. And what the consequences would be of one state innovating in the direction of compassion towards the poor, and another towards "tough love" -- would recipients vote with their feet?

Or, another version, are we comfortable with permitting children in Alabama to return to eating clay for nourishment, because that's the way the Alabama legislature wants to do it?

My tiny state of Delaware is already in a minor uproar because we've gotten wind of the formulas by which different states are going to get funds. How do you decide that? What happens if a local industry goes down the tubes all of a sudden?

Do I want to pay my federal tax dollars to shysters in a different state, a state I wouldn't live in because I believed the politicians were corrupt, and their policies sorely lacking in basic morality?

For some time in my American survey lecture on the Great Society I have taken the time to list on the blackboard some reasons why it "failed". First of all, some of it didn't fail. I find it both frightening and pathetic that about a year ago we were all discussing -- on this very list -- Social Security and Medicare as an income redistribution program that basically has worked very well. And surely no one would want to dismantle it. Boy, was I wrong on THAT one. This is something that is nowhere near as broke as it's being made out to be.

But if we believe these programs "failed"; if we believe that welfare is a "failure" -- and I am not sure I believe that either are failures, or at least, that their failings have to do with the purpose and not the execution -- WHY? And how will shoving administration off to the states fix it?

Clearly ONE of the problems with all of these programs is the extent to which administration was duplicated by the involvement of the states. And why would that be? That was basic pork barrel politicking. While you do need local administrators, you do NOT need the cumbersome structure of the current set up. I think that the "new federalists" and I would probably agree on that one. However, we disagree strongly as to WHICH half of the bureaucracy we would ditch.

One of the problems with the "welfare" programs that most would agree on is that too much of the funding is spent on the bureaucracy. Well, why would that be? I know at least one reason. Funding was allocated for the superstructure, and it was set up, and then funding was axed. When these programs are starved, it is the recipients who get the dregs.

Another reason is that we have adopted a most peculiar way of guarding against fraud and corruption in these programs. We go to MASSIVE lengths to try to keep out the "undeserving" in the acceptance process. Much of the paperwork that causes much of the bureaucratic overload has to do with the nearly neurotic fear that someone, somewhere, is cheating. I have seen this close-up with regard to severely disabled people and the process of getting disability payments. Everyone is SO sure that all these applicants are cheating. The application process is so complex, that the only ones who make it through may well BE the ones who are cheating -- because anyone who is very very ill has a lot of trouble getting through the filing process!

These are just examples. What I am saying is that we have not in ANY way shape or form done the hard work of figuring out what "welfare" is, what we like about it, what's wrong with it, and why. And the blind faith that "new federalism" is going to fix all this is astonishing.

No one yet has explained why we shouldn't be just a little concerned about the New Jersey innovation in cutting down the costs of drug rehabilitation for parolees ...

New Federalism

Re: New federalism [ 27 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 12:37:18 -0700
From: Christopher Inama - Prof. Ahiakpor <cinama@s1.csuhayward.edu>

Isn't the assumption that the central government can and/or should run a social welfare system purely a normative notion? Isn't the proposed transfer of social welfare functions from the central government to the individual states another demonstration that "entitlements", like "civil" liberties, being merely creations of government, are easily cancelled by government? After all, how can a transfer payment or other social welfare benefit be defended as an "entitlement" without logical contradiction when it is not univerally conveyed and can only be conveyed at the expense of someone else?

Chris Inama (cinama@s1.csuhayward.edu) New Federalism

New federalism [ 27 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 17:12:19 -0400 (EDT) From: Mike Meeropol <mmeeropo@kraken.mvnet.wnec.edu>

The discussion of decentralizing social welfare spending down to the state level needs to be addressed as both a normative issue [maintaining vs. trashing the entitlement status of certain programs] and as a policy issue. The latter issue boils down to this: if the "spillover benefits" of certain social welfare policies are NATIONAL in scope then having the states responsible for them is INEFFICIENT. They begin to compete by who can supply the LOWEST benefits to shift the burden of meeting those needs to other states to which they can drive the people whose benefits they just cut. That's WHY the federal requirement of entitlement status was so important in the past. I think it might be very helpful to focus the discussion of whether or not various anti-poverty (people investment) programs have national scope in terms of their benefits (alternatively, whether the ABSENCE of such programs would have national scope in terms of the costs!). All the best, Mike
--
Mike Meeropol
Economics Department
Cultures Past and Present Program
Western New England College
Springfield, Massachusetts
"Don't blame us, we voted for George McGovern!" Unrepentent Leftist!!
mmeeropo@wnec.edu
[if at bitnet node: in%"mmeeropo@wnec.edu" but that's fading fast!] New Federalism

New federalism [ 27 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Wed, 27 Sep 95 17:33:13 EDT
From: Fred Carstensen <CARSTEN@UConnVM.UConn.Edu>

Is this also just another version of "states' rights"? That is not so much a conservative position--i.e. motivated by a coherent ideology--as a merely reactionary one--let's turn the clock back to pre-Warren Court, pre-Civil Rights, pre-Voting Rights, pre-New Deal, ...... Is TR getting nervous, too? Aren't we also seeing the (attempted) demolition of the national park system?

Ironically, big business wanted national jurisdiction so that it would be uniform and NOT subject to local "capture" by state level interest groups.

Fred Carstensen New Federalism

New federalism [ 27 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 19:46:25 -0400 (EDT) From: Drew Evan Vandecreek <dev4n@darwin.clas.virginia.edu>

Scholars concerned with this question should look at the important new book "The Lost Promise of Progressivism" by Eldon Eisenach, a political scientist at the University of Tulsa. Although I don't agree with Eisenach's view of progressivism, he argues that conservatives and others strongly vested in America's constitutional governmental forms and language employ the idea of federalism, i.e., the formal limits of government power, when they really want to defend a much more normative program. Thus constitutionalism becomes a political tool, rather than a solemn arbiter. I can think of any number of examples, most notably the American civil rights movement, where southern states invoked the "states' rights" movement in order to cover their normative, and much more controversial, program of white supremacy and terror.

Drew Evan Vandecreek New Federalism

New federalism [ 28 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Thu, 28 Sep 95 07:55:08 EDT
From: Fred Carstensen <CARSTEN@UConnVM.UConn.Edu>

Meeropol makes a very important statement. Indeed, about 20 years ago FORTUNE magazine made a very strong argument for the nationalization of all welfare programs on the grounds of efficiency and equity; the equity argument was based on their analysis of the "effort" that states made given their resource base--Mississippi I recall had the lowest per capita income and among the lowest benefits--but the FORTUNE "effort" measure put it near the top of the list--it was doing about as much as it could given its resource base, whereas some "generous" states were making relatively little effort given their resource base.

The Fortune piece went on to argue I recall that the vast differences between states encouraged movement--which destablisized families and communities. Thus giving welfare back to the states may in fact be profoundly anti-family, both nuclear and extended (which has historically been far more important than the "family value" side has recognized).

Fred Carstensen New Federalism

New federalism [ 28 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 11:48:29 -0400 (EDT) From: J. Douglas Deal <deal@Oswego.Oswego.EDU>

On Wed, 27 Sep 1995, Fred Carstensen wrote:

> Is this also just another version of "states' rights"? That is not > so much a conservative position--i.e. motivated by a coherent > ideology--as a merely reactionary one--let's turn the clock back to > pre-Warren Court, pre-Civil Rights, pre-Voting Rights, pre-New Deal,

In some periods, this verdict on states' rights has undoubtedly been correct. But I would remind everyone that the original states' rights advocates, the inappropriately named "Antifederalists," were not merely reactionary in their opposition to the consolidated government they perceived in the 1787 federal constitution. They had a reasonably coherent republican ideology that followed Montesquieu in deeming a small territory (and a relatively homogeneous population) to be best suited to a republican form of government; they were conservative in the sense that they wanted to preserve existing arrangements under the Articles of Confederation, not change them radically with a new constitution; and at least some of them were trying to defend fairly democratic polities against what they felt to be antidemocratic challenges from above (others, to be sure, were state-level bigwigs trying merely to preserve their own powers and prerogatives). And, of course, Antifederalists deserve at least some of the credit for pushing Americans to consider and adopt a federal bill of rights. This ideology and these arguments cannot be dismissed lightly.

>From the perspective of those of us working in early American history, two crucial moments in the history of federalism were 1) the shift in the late 1780s from the Articles of Confederation to the new Federal Constitution, and 2) the Civil War era and Reconstruction amendments that James McPherson and others say amounted to a second American Revolution. The late 20th-century developments we are debating may have little to do with our 18th and 19th-century history, but I think that history does help to provide a longer perspective and a broader context for the debate.

Doug Deal
History/SUNY-Oswego New Federalism

New federalism [ 28 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 13:19:17 -0400
From: jim baumohl <jbaumohl@brynmawr.edu>

Lindenmeyer's observation about the inconsistent application of principle seems right to me. with all due respect to any republicans who may read this (which is to say, with no respect at all), contemporary welfare reform has nothing to do with principles; it's about the political advantages of moving taxation, and to a lesser extent, moral oversight, to ever more local authorities. Block grants are about undermining the expansionary incentives of the matching grant system -- the cornerstone of the new deal, though it goes back to venereal disease control during ww1, I believe.

In the realm of public welfare, local fiscal control combined with stringent moral oversight is an ancient tradition never quite downed by the new deal or great society, as the survival of general relief outside of federal authority attests. After ww2, the california taxpayers association, to name one example, fought virtually all expansions of means-tested social security act programs because they moved discretion about eligibility and hence control of costs, away from the counties. Only by local oversight, so the argument went, could the "policing of the caseload" be effected properly, and only thru such policing could demoralizing dependency and bilking of the taxpayer be avoided. And only by putting the tax lever within easy reach of the local citizenry could a commitment to parsimony be encouraged. Even today, general assistance programs in california's counties are being devastated because they are 100% county-financed and thus become the first targets of retrenchment.

As the house does not want to leave something so important as morality to the citizenry, its version of welfare reform combines the decentralization of fiscal responsibility with continued federal moral authority -- suffused with different values, of course. Even the more liberal senate, balking at the new moral dispensation of the house, has voted to decentralize moral oversight without the new deal waiver provision that required systematic evaluation of policies that departed from federal principle and put the brake on truly outlandish experimentation. Thus, while the senate undid some of the house's attempt to impose greater behavior control on the poor, it did so not only at the expense of entitlement but at the expense of any national standards with respect to the disciplining of welfare recipients. The gate will be open once again to force women into the fields (or their contemporary equivalent), to make welfare recipients pee in bottles each month, and so forth. This will be especially likely in areas where the forthcoming prohibition on suits against welfare reform by the legal services corporation will vitiate resistance. (New public law entities not funded by lsc will get around such restrictions in many places.)

In short, defederalization is only the first act in the continuing story of welfare reform -- ironically, a story that we may never really know much about because there may be no national reporting requirements left. With few federal standards, public welfare again will be refracted thru the politcal processes of the individual states, and in some states, thru the counties. We are indeed bringing the state back in -- and the counties, townships, and any other geo-political entity that can be goaded to return to near-victorian methods of relief. Senator Coates (r-indiana), I believe it is, wants to see all public relief privatized and tossed into the bailiwick of local churches and non-profits. Does the term charity organization ring a bell?

jim baumohl New Federalism

New federalism [ 28 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 16:47:34 -0500
From: Kirsten Gronbjerg <KGRONBJ@wpo.it.luc.edu>

Handler and Hasenfeld in THE MORAL CONSTUCTION OF POVERTY make a cogent argument for why decentralization in welfare is particularly likely to be associated with conservative perspectives. They argue that the contradictions between symbolism (the ideological need to support the work ethic) and the actual operations of welfare programs are most easily hidden at the local levels.

Kirsten Gronbjerg New Federalism

New federalism [ 29 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 18:48:06 -0400 (EDT) From: MROSENTHAL@mecn.mass.edu

In teaching social welfare history (to social work students), I make a big point (as does Trattner, the book we use) that a crucial action which impeded federal involvement in social welfare matters was the "Pierce veto" of 1856. Dorothea Dix, who had previously been successful in getting various states to build mental hospitals, appealed to Congress to sell federal land and give the proceeds to the states to help erect more institutions. Pierce vetoed the measure, stating that :" If Congress has the power to make provision for the indigent insane...it has the same power to make provision for the indigent who are not insane....I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for making the Federal Govt the great almoner of public charity throughout the United States." He referred to the constitutional provision that powers not granted to the federal govt are reserved to the states. It has been my understanding that one of the reasons the SSAct took the form it did was that Roosevelt was specifically worried about a S.C. finding of unconstitutionality if, e.g., individuals were not payees into the retirement system (on the one hand), and on the other (ADC, among others) the legal arrangement was grants-in-aid to the states to subsidize their benefits to individuals.

The whole situation now is totally outrageous to anyone who knows the real history of the development of these programs--indeed, that there is now (and always has been ) enormous discretion in the states--esp. with regard to the level of assistance.

Marguerite Rosenthal
Salem State College (MA)
MRosenthal@mecn.mass.edu New Federalism

New federalism [ 29 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Fri, 29 Sep 95 9:22:04 EDT
From: Greg Field <gfield@gandalf.rutgers.edu>

This is an excerpt from two documents that I recently read: David Lilienthal (then a Wisconsin utility commissioner) to Donald Richberg, following the 1931 Progressive Conference, explaining why he opposed federal legislation to regulate utility holding companies:
"We are none of us theoretical state's right people, [but] there is more hope for regulatory success" at the state level. Relying on Washington, "puts all of one's eggs in one basket [and] much or all might then depend upon three men appointed by the President."

After 8 years of the FDR administration, from a May 1941 memo on TVA policy:
"No one can deny that most state governments are less efficient that the Federal government. That is our actual experience in this country. The Federal government is usually more progressive, more advanced, in thinking and execution, and less inflicted with the corruption of politics, than most states."
The second statement reveals much, I think, regarding the differences between rhetoric/ideology and real policy-making. Lilienthal was one of the tribunes of the ideology of "grass roots democracy." But though Lilienthal extolled the virtues of the grass roots in his rhetoric, he had little use for any actual dispersal of authority in his politics and policies. It's my sense that much the same is true for much of the New Federalist rhetoric. Look at what they do and not what they say. Greg Field
Rutgers University
gfield@gandalf.rutgers.edu New Federalism

New federalism [ 29 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 11:30:19 -0400 (EDT) From: Mike Meeropol <mmeeropo@kraken.mvnet.wnec.edu>

All this discussion about New Federalism and what it really entails (breaking the New Deal social compact of [at least partial] entitlement) suggests that the role of people with our expertise and knowledge is to develop a research and dissemination agenda and strategy that documents _what actually occurs in the States_ as they "reform" welfare. Here in Massachusetts, we've just begun a particularly draconian program (which will get worse once Congress removes the requirement to get federal waivers). I know Wisconsin has a number of years under its belt with its program --- and I believe there are a number of other states who have been granted waivers in recent years. We have to begin to track them, state by state, and document, a) how much money in the end the states REALLY save, and b) how many people who leave the welfare rolls actually get jobs --- and what KIND of jobs, and c) whether this has any state-wide impact on the macro-economy

We have to recognize that no matter what happens in 1996, whether Clinton, Dole/Wilson/Gingrich, or Powell/Perot win the Congressional majority and even the Democratic opposition is Hell bent to rend the safety net like Reagan never dreamed he could accomplish --- all in the name of BALANCING THE BUDGET (another unbelievable shuck that I wish could be exposed). The only way to battle back is to take a long term approach.

All the best, Mike
--
Mike Meeropol
Economics Department
Cultures Past and Present Program
Western New England College
Springfield, Massachusetts
"Don't blame us, we voted for George McGovern!" Unrepentent Leftist!!
mmeeropo@wnec.edu
[if at bitnet node: in%"mmeeropo@wnec.edu" but that's fading fast!] New Federalism

New federalism [ 29 Sep 1995 ]


[Editor's note: Below is a response to Mike Meeropol's observation on the need for data relating to welfare and another message from Meeropol that reinforces his original point. LG]

Date: Fri, 29 Sep 95 21:18:07 EDT
From: Fred Carstensen <CARSTEN@UConnVM.UConn.Edu>

Meeropol recognizes what the "right wing" (not conservatives, per se) discovered in the Reagan years: if you destroy the information on which arguments are based--e.g. by not collecting it--you dramatically uncut the argument's validity. It is fairly common to hear in Congress declarations that, for instance, the study of ecology is a plot to undermine the economy and should be stopped--yes, a congressman from Arkansas (!) said this. So much for the search for truth and justice; they got trampled by the American way!

Fred Carstensen


>From mmeeropo@kraken.mvnet.wnec.eduFri Sep 29 20:46:01 1995 Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 18:11:51 -0400 (EDT)

In Thursday's Wall St. Journal a couple of folks from the Cato Institute publish the usual garbage about how "generous" welfare is. They do this by comparing AFDC + FOOD STAMPS + MEDICAID + (you get the picture) with low wage jobs and find, surprise surprise that the three generous welfare programs pay more. Their solution, cut benefits drastically.

Somebody with access to data needs to write them a letter showing how MUCH of the generous stuff they calculate (they do a state by state analysis

How many low-wage non-medicaid receiving workers pay the equivalent out of pocket!

This dishonesty is appalling and it happens all the time. Would anyone like to put together some information for a response?

I hope a number of responses are faxed to the Journal next week. It'll be interesting to see if they run any of them!

Good luck to us, Mike Meeropol
--
Mike Meeropol
Economics Department
Cultures Past and Present Program
Western New England College
Springfield, Massachusetts
"Don't blame us, we voted for George McGovern!" Unrepentent Leftist!!
mmeeropo@wnec.edu
[if at bitnet node: in%"mmeeropo@wnec.edu" but that's fading fast!] New Federalism

New federalism [ 29 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 21:47:48 EDT
From: Mark Graber <MGRABER@bss2.umd.edu>

I am curious as to people's thoughts as to why liberals had uniformly turned against federalism by the end of the New Deal (remember, after all, Brandeis in Schechter telling FDR's boys to go back to the states). One hypothesis is simply that the New Deal just convinced liberals that nationalization was the way to go. I am wondering, however, whether the fight against race segregation also significantly influenced Deweyites of the problems of local government. Any thoughts?

Mark A. Graber
mgraber@bss2.umd.edu Politics of the Pierce Veto of 1854 (was New Federalism)

Politics of the Pierce Veto of 1854 (was New Federalism) [ 30 Sep 1995 ]


Date: Sat, 30 Sep 95 09:08:28 -0600
From: James W Oberly <joberly@uwec.edu> Hello, H-State colleagues:

In a post yesterday about the "New Federalism", Marguerite Rosenthal

>In teaching social welfare history (to social work students), I make a big >point (as does Trattner, the book we use) that a crucial action which >impeded federal involvement in social welfare matters was the "Pierce veto" >of 1856. Dorothea Dix, who had previously been successful in getting >various states to build mental hospitals, appealed to Congress to sell >federal land and give the proceeds to the states to help erect more institu- >tions. Pierce vetoed the measure, stating that :" If Congress has the power to >make provision for the indigent insane...it has the same power to make pro- >vision for the indigent who are not insane....I cannot find any authority in >the Constitution for making the Federal Govt the great almoner of public char- >ity throughout the United States." He referred to the constitutional provision >that powers not granted to the federal govt are reserved to the states.

Permit me to give some background on the politics of Franklin Pierce's veto of the proposed land grant on behalf of the indigent insane. The 33rd Congress, meeting in 1854, did pass the so-called "Dix bill" with the provision of granting ten million acres out of the public domain in the form of scrip or warrants to the states, which could then resell the land to private buyers and use the proceeds for building and maintaining asylums. As Prof. Rosenthal notes, the bill got its name from the energetic lobbying of Dorothea Dix.

The 33rd Congress was an important one in the making of public land policy. Congress debated a homestead bill that would have awarded public land at no cost to actual settlers. It also debated numerous bills to make donations of public land for the purposes of aiding construction of railroads. In addition, Congress debated granting public land as a form of pension to veterans of the War of 1812 and various Indian wars.

The Pierce Administration favored some and opposed others of these grants and donations of the public domain. In its deliberations, the Administration was not only motivated by a states rights philosophy. It did approve railroad land grants that were within a single state (which contradicted Andrew Jackson's old reasoning in the Maysville Road veto of 1830). Instead, President Pierce, if not a majority of Democrats, argued that land grants to various causes were acceptable only if they were revenue neutral to the Treasury. In other words, new land grants were permissable only if they did not diminish the stream of revenue coming from existing public land sales. By this reasoning, railroad land grants were acceptable since the remaining public land alongside the proposed road was doubled in price from $1.25 an acre to $2.50. Homestead never made it through the 33rd Congress, but when it passed a subsequent one, it, too, was vetoed by a Democratic president. The Dix bill did pass comfortably but Pierce vetoed it because it was not revenue neutral. What of the 34 million acres granted to War of 1812 veterans by the 33rd Congress? Congress agreed with the claims of the "United Brethren of the War of 1812" that the country owed the old vets a "just debt." The President agreed and a few months after vetoing the Dix bill, Pierce signed the "Old Soldiers bill" that gave away three times as much in acreage as had been intended for the benefit of the indigent insane.

Anyone on H-State interested in following the lobbying and roll calls on the land question in the 33rd Congress can consult my _Sixty Million Acres: American Veterans and the Public Lands before the Civil War_ (1990). New Federalism

New federalism [ 1 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Sun, 01 Oct 95 05:48:34 EDT
From: PHALL@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.Edu
To add a little fuel to the fire, folks interested in these issues, especially
as they unfold on the state and local levels, ought to be sure to read the following:

Lester M. Salamon, PARTNERS IN PUBLIC SERVICE: GOVERNMENT-NONPROFIT RELATIONS IN THE MODERN WELFARE STATE (Johns Hopkins, 1995)

Salamon has been looking at the "new federalism" for fifteen years and has done many state and regional studies as well as high-level examinations of national policy. This book will blow away whatever Tocquevillian illusions you may have harbored about voluntary organizations in the setting of the modern American welfare state. First, Salamon suggests that nonprofits have been the major vehicle for carrying out welfare state policies -- which explains why most (like 90%) of secular nonprofits have come into being since 1950 -- and why government is the largest source of direct revenue for most secular nonprofits (tho' this varies by industry). Secondly, Salamon's work implies that the "new federalism" has roots that lie good deal deeper than the last Congressional elections.

Steven Rathgeb Smith & Michael Lipsky, NONPROFITS FOR HIRE: THE WELFARE STATE IN THE AGE OF CONTRACTING (Harvard, 1993).

Like Salamon, Smith & Lipsky have been looking at the emergence of the new polity for many years. Though the book somewhat overreaches itself -- it is hard to make overarching generalizations about phenomena that vary significantly from state to state -- this book does the best job yet of describing the new institutional infrastructure resulting from privatization, contracting, and deinstitutionalization.

Kirsten Gronbjerg, UNDERSTANDING NONPROFIT FUNDING: MANAGING REVENUES IN SOCIAL SERVICES AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS (Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1993). The title of this book does not do it justice -- for it is far more than a treatise on financial management. It gives the most detailed and suggestive account of how the nonprofit organizations which do the public's work in the new polity actually operate. Grounded in a decade of work on human services contractors in Illinois -- and setting forth their activities in the relatively resource rich 1980s --, the book will give you the framework for grasping what is likely to occur as states struggle to allocate block grants and deal with shrinking resources during the 90s.

Jennnifer Wolch, THE SHADOW STATE: GOVERNMENT AND THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR IN TRANSITION (Foundation Center, 1990). A prescient overview of the devolution of power and public responsibilities from federal government to the states and from public to private sectors. Wolch's earlier books on deinstitutionlization and institutional geography ensure that her insights are not "shot from the hip." The book is of particular value because of its comparative focus on the US and the UK.

Julian Wolpert, PATTERNS OF GENEROSITY IN AMERICA? WHO'S HOLDING THE SAFETY NET (Twentieth Century Fund, 1993). Wolpert's little volume effectively and learnedly demolishes the New Right's notion that private giving can make up for public expenditure by showing how geographically selective philanthropy is in the US. Selective generosity (both in terms of where people give and what they support) ensures that the devolutionary public policies of the New Federalism will have catastrophic effects both on efforts to maintain minimum levels of service provision and on the institutions of civil society.

Much as I hate to recommend it, understanding the New Federalism also requires reading Marvin Olasky's THE TRAGEDY OF AMERICAN COMPASSION (Regnery, 1992). Most of us are inclined to see the Contract on America as the product of "irritable gestures that pass for thought" (as Richard Hofstadter branded the writings of the Populists). Olasky -- the prophet who Newt & Company are following -- preaches radically redefined concepts of charity, philanthropy, and moral responsibility. The book helps explain why the Right is not only dismantling the welfare state, but directing its animus against nonprofits (the AARP, the Istook Amendment, &c.) -- the reason being that, following Olasky, they are hostile in principle to associational activity of almost every kind. (Readers are into early 19th century religious debates will find strong echoes of the anti-institutionalism of Francis Wayland and the early W.E. Channing here).

Also of interest in Olasky is the extent to which he represents the New Right's efforts to re-write history (though he is not an historian). A wonderful example of the Gramscian process of intellectual deputization -- but one that needs to be taken seriously.

Finally, if readers will excuse a little special pleading, as the foregoing suggests, there is a small but important multidisciplinary literature on nonprofits to which students of the New Federalism really need to pay attention. Though much nonprofits scholarship -- like education scholarship -- has been tainted by its having been developed "in a special atmosphere of professional purpose" (as Bernard Bailyn wrote of educational history), the best of it really is essential to understanding the current institutional upheaval. Mainstream scholarship in history and political science has largely ignored nonprofits, much as they have ignored state and local polities. But researchers like Salamon (a political scientist), Gronbjerg (a sociologist), Wolpert (an economic geographer), Smith & Lipsky (Pol Sci), and Wolch (an urban planner), have given us important tools and concepts. (Too bad historians have contributed so little -- though David Hammack and I have been laboring in this vineyard too).

Peter Dobkin Hall
Program on Non-Profit Organizations
Yale University New Federalism

New Federalism [ 2 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Sun, 1 Oct 1995 22:33:30 -0400
From: MSPONHOUR@aol.com

As a new member of this list, I have enjoyed reading the recent debate about New Federalism. However, it strikes me that some scholars have taken leave of their senses. The tenor of the debate is hysterical and closed-minded. It seems most of you have decided that the changes underway in Washington are unquestionably bad, part of a nefarious plot by villians and that no honest reason can be behind what is going on. Peter Dobkin Hall writes that most consider it all, in the words of Richard Hofstadter, "irritable gestures that pass for thought." Scholars like Mike Meeropol in effect are rallying the brethern to undertake research in which the conclusion is already known

Michael Sponhour New Federalism

New Federalism [ 2 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Mon, 2 Oct 1995 11:38:34 -0400
From: jim baumohl <jbaumohl@brynmawr.edu>

i disagree fundamentally with sponhour's contention that those of us who are extremely critical of the new federalism are enamored of the status quo, particularly with respect to afdc or medical care. indeed, it is possible, though hardly likely, that the defederalization of authority will provide new opportunities for progressive democratic politics. that much said, however, when it comes to assuming debt and distributing resources, there's no power like the federal power, a matter of particular importance if you are poor and live in a state like mississippi, new mexico, or maine. the history of block granting has been a history of resource cuts to poor states and poor people. it is this regressive tendency, especially pernicious when combined with the very flat tax structures of most states, that ought to disturb anyone concerned about distributive justice. frankly, anyone who finds comfort in the fact that the whole safety net will not be "sliced" has more faith in the value of much of that net than any set of facts warrants, and is more politically disabled than anyone whose posts i've seen on this list to date. as to faith in the american political system: it seems to me that we are all better served by agnosticism on that score.

in any event, none of this is particularly new -- the systematic grinding of the poor has been going on for quite some time now, and in case no one has noticed, homelessness has been a continuous public problem for almost 20 years -- it's just that the latest round is especially mean and stupid, willfully ignoring everything we know about the effects of certain welfare "reforms," for example, and everything we plausibly suspect about the no-work/bad-work future for millions of americans.

jim baumohl New Federalism

Re: New Federalism [ 3 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Tue, 03 Oct 1995 05:41:39 -0400 (EDT) From: PHALL@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.Edu <Peter Hall Dobkin>

Yes, we eggsheads do have to separate our fear and scorn of the Great Beast from the need to take it seriously. Newt's polls may be dropping, but the deep changes he and his minions are putting into place are unlikely to be reversed.

Again, we need to be attentive to the fact that all this did not begin with the elections of 1994. The elections merely completed a process that had begun in the 70s. Carter, not Reagan, was the first deregulator. Deinstitutionalization, privatization, and contracting began as movements of the left, not of the right. Even in the politics of the counterculture of the 60s the anti-institutionalism and radical individualism that now so vex us (some of us, anyway) are evident.

The depth and complexity of the change defy simple political explanation. As one of those historians who were trained to study intellectual life but who shifted towards social and cultural history, what's going on draws me back to dusting off some of those old tools of enquiry that enable me to grasp what these people really think (while being no less attentive to what they're really doing!). New Federalism

Re: New Federalism [ 3 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Tue, 03 Oct 1995 14:32:51 -0400 (EDT) From: Mike Meeropol <mmeeropo@kraken.mvnet.wnec.edu>

Sorry to have been too busy to respond to M. Sponhour immediately:

> As a new member of this list, I have enjoyed reading the recent debate about > New Federalism. However, it strikes me that some scholars have taken leave of > their senses. The tenor of the debate is hysterical and closed-minded.

Reread the sentence before this last one ...

> It
> seems most of you have decided that the changes underway in Washington are > unquestionably bad, part of a nefarious plot by villians and that no honest > reason can be behind what is going on.

Perhaps my short-hand way of writing didn't make clear that this "nefarious plot by villians" had a logic --- the logic of the market being more important than human solidarity and that any system of redistribution of income that doesn't severely means-test the recipients is not acceptable. It is actually irrelevant what the MOTIVES of the "villians" in this situation are --- the important point is what they are doing. I stand behind my comment that they are attempting to remove the New Deal commitment of entitlement symbolized by the Social Security Act of 1935. Henceforth, the poor will receive their transfers as a matter of "discretionary charity" on the part of state and local governments rather than as a matter of _citizenship_ as before.

> Peter Dobkin Hall writes that most
> consider it all, in the words of Richard Hofstadter, "irritable gestures > that pass for thought." Scholars like Mike Meeropol in effect are rallying > the brethern to undertake research in which the conclusion is already known > - devolving power to states and localities is terrible.

The research I wanted people to undertake would be to TEST whether the results will be as the scholars of the New Right predict. Of course I believe that they will be proven wrong. I think the 19th and the early 20th century proved the futility of a laissez faire approach to poverty and economic instability for capitalist market economies. But of course, I could be wrong -- that's what the research is all about.

Haven't you ever heard of people starting to do research with a PRETTY GOOD IDEA what they were going to find? In fact, don't we sometimes enjoy reading when people admit that what they found SURPRISED them?

> That's not research,
> that's politics. And it is no different than the sins of which you often > correctly accuse the New Right.

The only sin the New Right is guilty of is to consistently IGNORE all arguments and evidence presented against their point of view. And not all New Right scholars do this/though most New Right columnists and politicians do!!

> Now it may very well be that everything Newt > is pushing is awful, I am willing to buy that. But how can I trust any > assessment if the authors have such an obvious, vested interest in the > current system to the point that you seem unwilling to acknowledge that any > flaws exist?

I haven't been on H-State in over a year and just got back on. I find it hard to believe that H-State participants are blind to the flaws in the current system. The major point that needs to be made is that the flaws are probably NOT the ones pushed by the New Right (for example: that the explosion of teenage pregnancy is caused by AFDC... -- fact: teenage pregnancy rates have been dropping for decades, the problem is that teenage marriage rates have been dropping FASTER, thereby RAISING the teenage unwed pregnancy rates --- query: would we be better off with more shotgun marriages?).

> Certainly, even an "unrepentent leftist" has to admit that the > welfare system is not exactly clicking along with no problems. If you had a > little more confidence in the American political system, you might calm down > a bit: Newt's polls are dropping like a rock each week as more changes are > pushed to Medicaid ect. The entire safety net is not going to be sliced. >
> Michael Sponhour

Ending entitlement status is a big first step. After that pressure to balance the budget dissolves all objections to cutting the net where the defenders are least powerful.

For the record: My request for a research agenda was not based on DEFENSE of the current system but at disgust and dismay at the NEW SYSTEM that the Congress is putting in before our eyes and that Bill Clinton will probably sign. I think the least we can do while misery, etc. expands is to DOCUMENT it so that the public, when they wake up from their balanced budget hypnotic state might be willing to reinstate entitlement status for the poor --- or even go further towards a European style system of family allowances.

--
Mike Meeropol
Economics Department
Cultures Past and Present Program
Western New England College
Springfield, Massachusetts
"Don't blame us, we voted for George McGovern!" Unrepentent Leftist!!
mmeeropo@wnec.edu
[if at bitnet node: in%"mmeeropo@wnec.edu" but that's fading fast!] New Federalism

Re: New Federalism [ 5 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Thu, 05 Oct 1995 06:00:21 -0400 (EDT) From: Peter Dobkin Hall <PHALL@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.Edu>

Some of us have been doing serious research in this area -- work which began long before last year's elections. I completed the first phase of a study of human services contracting in Connecticut, 1975-1995 which I would be happy to share with anyone interested. The findings are not cheering. Contracting and privatization has been expensive, corrupt, and unmonitorable -- and block grants promise to make the situation worse. Though advocates justify privatized service providers more responsive and flexible, the reality is quite different. In many states, organizations which used to represent clients and their families (such as the ARCs -- Associations for Retarded Citizens -- have been taken over by the service providers and turned into lobbying entities (while the clients and their families have been left voiceless). In the meantime, state legislators of both parties have become involved in lucrative wheeling and dealing in group home management contracts and real estate. (In CT, the chairman of the state Democratic party was busted for charging $150K for handling 7 group home real estate closings -- which normally should have cost no more than $20K. Turned out he also owned the property being sold and controlled the nonprofit corporations making the purposes).

The notion that state legislators are more sensitive to voter or anyone else's needs is simply absurd. Most people don't even know who their state rep is (though the special interests certainly do!). My experiences in interviewing even the smartest and most liberal state reps in CT were not encouraging. One fella, who served as speaker of the House for a decade, knew nothing about the series of enactments that led to the creation of the multi-billion dollar nonprofit holding company that controls most of the state's group homes. And I don't think he was being disingenuous. These folks, even at their best, do politics -- they don't make policy.

But again, let's be cautious: the New Federalism is not a simple right wing movement, nor can it be simply identified with the GOP. The roots of the movement lie deep and include an assortment of groups from the right and left. (I doubt that the major critics of state mental institutions and training schools would be considered right wingers -- but their arguments are used by the right to justify privatizing services). New Federalism

Re: New Federalism [ 5 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Thu, 05 Oct 1995 18:07:40 -0400 (EDT) From: Fred Carstensen <CARSTEN@UConnVM.UConn.Edu>

Don't link "the free market" with efforts to dismantle the social safety net (i.e. the welfare system); Glenn Lowry among others recognizes and argues that if one is to have a competitive market there will be those hurt by that process; they must have a "net" so that they can re-enter the competition. Marc Plattner made the same argument 10 years ago. Indeed, no one who truly believes in the virtues of the market could/should argue for dismantling welfare, rather their attention should be on efficacy in giving people the wherewithal (skills and access to capital) with which to compete. The Gingrich rhetoric has pointed in this direction, but substantively the policies he advocates have no linkage whatsoever with this objective.

If you want a really frightening insight (incite?) into Gingrich, read the current New Yorker article on him.

FC New Federalism in Action

New Federalism in action [ 6 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 13:09 -0500 (EST) From: Mary Schweitzer <SCHWEITZ@UCIS.VILL.EDU>

The problem with the entire philosophy of "new federalism" is simple and should be obvious: State boundaries are false borders; state jurisdiction false polities.

This was not so in 1787. Basic sovreignty rested in the state legislatures. This is what made James Wilson's rewording "We the PEOPLE" so radical -- yet it expressed very well the new sense of identity that had come out of the experience of unifying to fight a Revolution against the British government. The sheer pleasure of the public in this new identification can be seen in the celebration of Washington as a unifying figure, and the celebration of various symbols of nationhood such as the eagle, the 13 stars, etc.

Until the Civil War, most of what was important went on within states and localities. Slavery, however, could not be so contained -- ironically because the SOUTHERN states wished to impose THEIR perspective on reluctant NORTHERNERS in the form of a stiffened Fugitive Slave Act, the Dred Scott decision, and squabbling over western lands (how's that for a different take on the states' rights issue?)

The American economy and American society were increasingly blending on a national level through the 1800s and the early 1920s because of the railroad, the growth of mass distribution and mass production, mass communications, rapidly shrinking costs of travel (oops, that should be early 1900s up there!) etc. As Weibe pointed out some years ago, it was very telling when Americans quit defining themselves by location (I'm from Ohio) and began defining themselves by occupation (I'm a professor).

Today, the state borders obstruct more than they clarify. As a simple example, the city of Philadelphia is the center of a large, highly populated region that (for want of a better term) gets called either the Philadelphia area or the "Delaware Valley". It serves residents of southern New Jersey and northern Delaware. But throw sovreignty back to the states, and what do you have? The New Jersey and Delaware residents get to benefit from the close presence of a large city without having to pay a penny towards its costs; and residents of Erie, PA, are asked to pick up the tab for a city that is a good 4-5 hours east and contributes nothing positive (that I can think of) to the well being of the citizens of that town. They result is Philadelphia is underfunded; Philadelphia suburbanites in New Jersey and Delaware undertaxed; suburbanites in southeastern PA ALSO undertaxed, though less than the NJ and DE suburbanites; and the hapless residents of Erie, PA are OVERtaxed.

I thought this was a marvelous example of what may well be in store as the administration of social service funds are "devolved" onto the states:

Front page, Philly Inquirer, 10/4/95:

New Jersey halted yesterday its years-old practice of shipping addicted probationers to drug-recovery programs in Pennsylvania without notifying Pennsylvania officials. ... The announcement came two days after The Inquirer reported that New Jersey had, over the last five years, quietly shipped about 1,000 drug-addicted felons to out-of-state recovery houses in violation of interstate agreements. The agreements, known as interstate compacts, were routinely flouted by New Jersey officials who blamed their actions on a shortage of in-state treatment programs.

About 850 of the criminals, who primarily went to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, were on probation. The rest were unauthorized parolees who were recalled by New jersey corrections officials four months ago.

Many of the criminals were sent to loosely supervised boarding houses in Philadelphia. Scores obtained voter-registration cards, which they used to prove state residency when signing up for Pennsyvania welfare benefits.

Pennsylvania officials are now attempting to calculate how much the practice cost state taxpayers.

I will point out that Christie Whitman, governor of NJ, is a rising Republican known for fiscal-conservatism -- HEY, way to reduce those superfluous costs in the budget. Watch what happens when the states are ALL set free to "innovate" with such cost-cutting measures.

Mary Schweitzer, Villanova University New Federalism in Action

Re: New Federalism in action [ 6 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 23:02:24 -0400 (EDT) From: Fred Carstensen <CARSTEN@UConnVM.UConn.Edu>

Mary S. makes a very useful contribution; indeed, the Commerce Clause was not really developed clearly as a way of curtialing state authority until the 1870s and 1880s -- because that is when business invested in a series of legal challenges to discriminatory state and local regulation and/or taxation to confront the Supreme Court with the issues. Singer and Swift were leaders in this "nationalization" of the rules environment. Though there has been a great deal of disucssion of the welfare "reforms", the Gingrich alliance is also rewriting a lot of other law, and at least some elements in the business community are getting very nervous--e.g. the proposed 20% cut in the SEC budget is almost unanimously opposed by Wall Street.

It may also be worth reflecting that there are (at least) two different lines of reasoning in the current restructuring. One says that the federal government is too distant and too awkward; return these critical functions to the states where government is "closer to the people." That line accepts that there are a fundamental array of services/activities which government ought to perform. But there is another line which is just hostile to government at any level; all government is "rent-seeking" burdensome extractive etc.--government provides no "value added". And at least some of the effort to return responsibility to the states is a means to achieve this second objective.

And what was the role of social scientists in creating a belief that the government does no good or is only the captive of the "dominant class"?

FC New Federalism in Action

Re: New Federalism in action [ 7 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Sat, 07 Oct 1995 06:26:22 -0400 (EDT) From: Peter Dobkin Hall <PHALL@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.Edu>

I take exception to the suggestion that states are irrelevant! The differences been state political cultures are tremendously important, esecially in the context of the New Federalism. For example, contracting regimes in states with operating systems of county government are very different from those in states where all power comes from state-level agencies. With regard to nonprofit organizations (a crucial element in the New Federlists' system of social provision), state laws and monitoring and oversight capacities vary significantly. Again, there are major differences between states with regard to the political culture of their legislatures: in some states, legislators serve full-time and are seriously engaged in the policy process; in others, they serve part-time and are mere politicians.

The failure of scholars to give states serious attention has seriously impaired our ability to foresee the consequences of the current institutional revolution! New Federalism in Action

Re: New Federalism in action [ 9 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Mon, 09 Oct 1995 09:46:52 -0400
From: jim baumohl <jbaumohl@brynmawr.edu>

Hall is absolutely correct to insist on the importance of state political cultures. In my own bailiwick, social welfare history (broadly construed), this is so obvious as to barely need mention. Recently, Sarah Tracy and I have examined the management of drunks and addicts by the states of California and Massachusetts between 1891 and 1920, finding some interesting similarities, but also some profound differences related to the geo-politics of each state and their very different administrative capacities. Baumohl and Tracy, "Building Systems to Manage Inebriates ...," Contemporary Drug Problems, 21:4 (Winter 1994), 557-97.

But quite apart from historical considerations, Hall's specific points are important and well-taken. States like California and Pennsylvania have startling and consequential differences in the structure of government and sites of taxation. For a variety of reasons, but in part because of how public schools are funded, I doubt that local California governments are as keen to defrock non-profits as are a growing number of Pennsylvania townships, including my own (which has just sued my employer, Bryn Mawr College, among others).

As the defederalization of various programs unfolds, the battles over policy will just be beginning. AFDC, for example, might assume dozens of different state-administered forms, some of them further refracted through county governments. (Not unlike the early history of food stamps in California, where some counties were permitted to persist with the old commodities program for some years.) While the argument can be made that such decentralization brings government closer to the people, in reality what it usually does is bring government closer to the dominion of local elites.

jim baumohl New Federalism in Action

Re: New Federalism in action [ 11 Oct 1995 ]


Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 10:01 -0500 (EST) From: Mary Schweitzer <SCHWEITZ@UCIS.VILL.EDU>

Bauhmohl and Hall miss the point. Yes, there are different state political cultures. But the BORDERS, the BOUNDARIES that define states are not necessarily functional.

I will admit it is quite different in California. That state is defined with sufficient size that many issues can be retained within its borders. But the immigration issue for California is just one example of a national policy which is borne disproportionately by a state.

As Bill Bradley noted, why states? What is the logical reason for the state of Pennsylvania to control funding having to do with the Delaware Valley, and Philadelphia in specific?

What does it MEAN for state policies to differ on certain issues? How much do we know about that?

I do have to admit it is with irony that I bring this up, because for some time I have been working on a study of the ratification process two hundred years ago, and I have a good deal of research on the economic policies effected by governments, and the political economies within different regions, in the 13/14 commonwealths of the 1700s. And I have used the laboratory analogy myself -- I believe that many of Pennsylvania's successful policies were imitated by other colonial legislatures, and I was personally interested in the shift in thinking when Pennsylvanian's innovated away from the established theories in Britain.

Had the Supreme Court not come stomping in and denied states the innovative social welfare legislation of the turn of the century, we might have had a different history in that vein.

     BUT.
     Keep in mind that segregation was also an innovative
legislative strategy of southern states.
     And be aware that the entire reason we HAVE a Constitution,

and a strong centralized government, is that there were areas even back in the 1780s where state policies conflicted to the extent that it caused inter-state conflict.

Patent enforcement is a small thing with large consequences, and it could not be enforced before the Constitution was ratified. Follow the efforts to get a patent for the "first" (in quotation marks because more than one inventor claimed the first) steamboat.

We also need to think about WHY welfare policy was shifted from state to national jurisdiction in the first place. And what the consequences would be of one state innovating in the direction of compassion towards the poor, and another towards "tough love" -- would recipients vote with their feet?

Or, another version, are we comfortable with permitting children in Alabama to return to eating clay for nourishment, because that's the way the Alabama legislature wants to do it?

My tiny state of Delaware is already in a minor uproar because we've gotten wind of the formulas by which different states are going to get funds. How do you decide that? What happens if a local industry goes down the tubes all of a sudden?

Do I want to pay my federal tax dollars to shysters in a different state, a state I wouldn't live in because I believed the politicians were corrupt, and their policies sorely lacking in basic morality?

For some time in my American survey lecture on the Great Society I have taken the time to list on the blackboard some reasons why it "failed". First of all, some of it didn't fail. I find it both frightening and pathetic that about a year ago we were all discussing -- on this very list -- Social Security and Medicare as an income redistribution program that basically has worked very well. And surely no one would want to dismantle it. Boy, was I wrong on THAT one. This is something that is nowhere near as broke as it's being made out to be.

But if we believe these programs "failed"; if we believe that welfare is a "failure" -- and I am not sure I believe that either are failures, or at least, that their failings have to do with the purpose and not the execution -- WHY? And how will shoving administration off to the states fix it?

Clearly ONE of the problems with all of these programs is the extent to which administration was duplicated by the involvement of the states. And why would that be? That was basic pork barrel politicking. While you do need local administrators, you do NOT need the cumbersome structure of the current set up. I think that the "new federalists" and I would probably agree on that one. However, we disagree strongly as to WHICH half of the bureaucracy we would ditch.

One of the problems with the "welfare" programs that most would agree on is that too much of the funding is spent on the bureaucracy. Well, why would that be? I know at least one reason. Funding was allocated for the superstructure, and it was set up, and then funding was axed. When these programs are starved, it is the recipients who get the dregs.

Another reason is that we have adopted a most peculiar way of guarding against fraud and corruption in these programs. We go to MASSIVE lengths to try to keep out the "undeserving" in the acceptance process. Much of the paperwork that causes much of the bureaucratic overload has to do with the nearly neurotic fear that someone, somewhere, is cheating. I have seen this close-up with regard to severely disabled people and the process of getting disability payments. Everyone is SO sure that all these applicants are cheating. The application process is so complex, that the only ones who make it through may well BE the ones who are cheating -- because anyone who is very very ill has a lot of trouble getting through the filing process!

These are just examples. What I am saying is that we have not in ANY way shape or form done the hard work of figuring out what "welfare" is, what we like about it, what's wrong with it, and why. And the blind faith that "new federalism" is going to fix all this is astonishing.

No one yet has explained why we shouldn't be just a little concerned about the New Jersey innovation in cutting down the costs of drug rehabilitation for parolees ...



H-Net
Humanities & Social Sciences OnLine
Humanities &
Social Sciences Online
in cooperation with MSU Department of History
Contact Us
Copyright © 1995-2007