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Howard Husock
Nathan Glazer’s Warning « Back to Story

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Wow, Glazer is willing to destroy healthcare to attempt to incentivize black males to work. The cure is worse than the disease.
Your article is premised on an inaccurate definition of social policy. Any policy that structures distribution of rights and resources (menaing money) is a social policy. A mortgage deduction is a social policy. Tax loopholes are social policy. TANF is social policy. Tax write offs for owning horses are social policy. The funding of a police force and a fire department is a social policy. The idea that social policy is a set of rules and regulations that only benefit marginalized groups and "the poor." May I suggest reading David Gil, Unravelling Social Policy. Thanks very much.
You can't hire the poor and pay them what they want. Some people aren't worth hiring at any price, because they contribute nothing. Yet, the government makes you pay them minimum wage, no matter how useless or unqualified they are. Right now, today, I have work for one fairly strong man, to clean my shop. I don't need him tomorrow, because the economy is horrible. There is really no cost-effective, legal way for me to hire that person, even for one day. It's just too complicated. Also, if they are Americans, black or white, they don't show up; if they do, never on time. They could have vacations, but the government taxes and regulates so much out of a business, that the workers' vacations are being taken by government employees. Their retirement goes to government workers' retiring early. Government is the black hole into which we send money to be destroyed.
This system is absolutely broken, and if men like Glazer, who've changed their minds as often as their underwear, had a bit more humility and introspection, they'd get out of the way, and let things work themselves out. They've only screwed things up since the '60s.
The reason for black failure is the failure of its culture. Disdainful of discursive thought, it tries to reduce too much to emotion. The Hippies were the white versions of blacks, and they, too, have a magical view of reality. Those who in the '60s who adopted this life style, think that by redefining words, they can defy the underlying reality of things.
If memory serves, Glazer's essay on Meals on Wheels also suggested that the need for such services was itself the result of programs like rent control in New York and Social Security. The elderly of the 60s and 70s were the first to age into a system during post war affluence. Social Security was sold on the premise that they would no longer be "dependent" on their families for support in their old age. Their families were in turn freed from traditional obligation and could move to the suburbs, Sun Belt, etc., confident that Uncle Sam was looking after Mom and Dad. The result was vast numbers of shut-ins and elderly unable to care for themselves despite their monthly check from the federal gov't.
Great, great piece. This particular sentence (“I am increasingly convinced ...“that some important part of the solution to our social problems lies in traditional practices and traditional restraints.) defines modern conservatism to this day. When speaking of social policy, politicians would do well to remember this point of view.
The question is rightly asked above why similar far-reaching social programs DO appear to be effective in countries such as Norway, Sweden, Germany, etc.

The above-named countries are relatively small, extremely homogeneous societies - almost the entire population, including the underclass whom these programs are trying to help and uplift, share the same values, and the same religion and the same social norms. (And it is interesting to note that Great Britain is NOT on this list).
There are (or at least were) no analogs in those countries (save Great Britain) to the situation here in the United States, with our violent urban disaster zones like Detroit,Philadelphia,Newark or Camden, where 14 year old girls are having babies, where high schools are graduating students who are functionally illiterate, where fifteen year old boys have already fathered two or three children, where most households have not had, in the past three generations, a family member present who ever held a legitimate job and where there are more males in prison or on parole than there are males with college diplomas.

The really sad thing is that this situation is a direct result of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society - the Federal Government as husband, father, caregiver, employer, babysitter, and healer - has destroyed the future of an entire segment of our society.
wow, imagine, some things that governments and others attempt are not always a big success. i'm sure pre social policy-engineering in 19th century was all hunky dory. NOT
Thanks for an excellent summary of Dr. Glazer's work. He's a name that's been vaguely familiar to me for a long time; I learned a lot from your article. The "every piece of social policy substitutes for some traditional arrangement" quote, in particular, crystallizes something I've heard before, but never so well put.

I'd like to read more. Which of his books would you recommend - to start with?
Michael P. Walsh, MM September 22, 2011 at 6:48 AM
The problem is that so many government policies effectively supplant the horizontal relationships that bind people to each other within a community with the vertical, statutory relationships that bind one to the state. A more responsive public policy would be supportive of those traditional relationships and institutions. But that might require taking on some of liberalism's ideological fixations, such as the naked public square and the sacred public school.
Social policy is nothing more and nothing less than trying to replace faith with science. It also emphasizes the insidious theme that government is a source for good. It also spawns an intellectual elitism where only the educated should lead and that the "masses" are helpless.
As a Canadian who has free medical benefits far better than the new American system will ever be willing to provide, I fail to see that this was a disincentive to work. It has meant that what I earn will not be eaten up by health expenses. You can't have a healthy economy without healthy employees. Perhaps this is one of the problems in the American economy.
What neocons like Glazer and Husock should ask them selves is why is it that so many social projects like the ones mentioned in this article. and some much more radical, work so well in Norway, Sweden Denmark, Finland, Austria, and Germany? Serious underfunding, anyone???? Too many guns, too little butter????