“Welfare Doesn’t Work” by Dr. Leah Hamilton is a detailed dissection of the agelong social welfare system in the United States that has come under recent criticism for its lack of adequacy and efficacy. In the book, Dr. Hamilton explores the incentives and effects of modern welfare policy, contrasted with outcomes of global basic income pilots in the past seventy years.
The modern American welfare system is modeled upon the 1600s Elizabethan Poor Laws, which separated the poor into categories of worthy and unworthy. Skepticism towards the poor continues to shape American welfare policy, including “man-in-the-house” rules and “midnight raids” in the 1960’s to “welfare queen” rhetoric of the 1980’s. In “Welfare Doesn’t Work – The Promises of Basic Income for a Failed American Safety Net,” Dr. Hamilton takes a deeper look into the modern American welfare state and how the system has made it impossible to escape the “poverty trap.”
The 144 pager explores the history of US approaches to poverty alleviation and its effects on families in poverty, children, and the economy at large. The author also looks at how other approaches such as the Universal Basic Income could be an alternative to the US welfare state, contending that paternalistic and counterproductive eligibility rules in the modern American welfare state violate the human dignity of the poor.
The author aims to illustrate the effects of the current system, particularly as it seems to favor middle and upper-income households and how radical alternatives such as a universal basic income could be a practicable and more effective solution.
Dr. Hamilton’s work draws from her years of experience as a front-line social worker and welfare policy researcher, and includes interviews with basic income pilot recipients in Ontario, Canada, as she shares her wealth of knowledge with the readers.
“Welfare Doesn’t Work” is part of the book series – Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee and the book is available on Springer for interested readers.
For more information on Dr. Hamilton and her works, please visit – http://leahhamilton.net/.
About Dr. Leah Hamilton
Leah Hamilton is an author and an Associate Professor of Social Work at Appalachian State University, USA. She is an Executive Committee member for the Basic Income Earth Network and President of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.