by Eric Laursen
Image via Shutterstock.How did it come about that people have a “right” to certain benefits from the state -- or “entitlement,” in the loaded language of our day? A fascinating new paper by legal scholar Karen N. Tani argues that the idea of “welfare rights” first became commonplace not amongst activists in the 1960s, but with a group of mid-level Roosevelt administration officials who in the late 1930s were trying to get an ambitious new state-federal assortment of anti-poverty programs off the ground.
SOURCE: Special to HNN
Robert D. Parmet: Review of Eric Laursen's "The People's Pension: The Struggle to Defend Social Security Since Reagan" (AK Press, 2012)
Robert D. Parmet is professor of history at York College of the City University of New York.In 1964 Barry Goldwater discovered that suggestions to reduce or replace Social Security can be politically hazardous. Twelve years later Ronald Reagan lost the Republican presidential primary election in Florida in part because he attacked Social Security. Nevertheless, the assaults persisted, and since Reagan’s election in 1980 have become increasingly sophisticated and intense. In more than seven hundred pages of text, Eric Laursen describes these efforts in great detail, presenting the provisions of proposed legislation, the campaigns to substitute alternate retirement schemes, and the coalitions of politicians, businessmen, and financiers who to the present day have sought to subvert the landmark social legislation of the New Deal. With Social Security and Medicare major issues in this presidential year, this book provides the background for anyone who wishes to be well-informed.
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