Honorees at the 2014 FDR Distinguished Public Service Awards felt vindicated — but why does public service need vindicating? Outside of election night victory speeches, it’s rare to see America’s elected officials express much happiness in public. In a political culture dominated by partisan rancor, personal attacks, and donor-friendly positioning, governing seems a joyless affair.
The Court’s rulings place more barriers, both physical and financial, between U.S. women and basic health care. In the last week the Supreme Court announced two decisions that could dramatically change the landscape of women’s health access in the United States. It will be some time before we know the full impact of McCullen v.
Spreading democracy abroad requires more than military power, as history has shown from the two World Wars. The very philosophy of the Axis powers is based on a profound contempt for the human race. If, in the formation of our future policy, we were guided by the same cynical contempt, then we should be surrendering
Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our Monday through Friday morning email featuring the Daily Digest. Time to Bring Back the Public Option — Medicare in All Exchanges (The Hill) Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch says that as the discussion of Obamacare shifts from repeal to reform, the first improvement should be expanding
Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that tax reform is the key to addressing inequality in a new Roosevelt Institute paper released today. Click here to listen to Stiglitz describe the key arguments of the paper. Click here to read his recent congressional testimony on why inequality matters and what can be done about it. The
A subway ad provides a reminder of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second bill of rights, which called for a living wage and access to leisure. I recently saw an advertisement for Grubhub on the New York City subway. For the unfamiliar, Grubhub is a food delivery website used to place orders online. Grubhub focuses its
When I wrote a long piece about the Voluntarism Fantasy at Democracy Journal, several people accused me of attacking a strawman. My argument was that there’s an influential, yet never clearly articulated, position on the conservative right that we jettison much of the federal government’s role in providing for economic security. In response, private charities, churches and “civil society” will rush in and do a better job. Who, complained conservatives, actually argues this?
Well, here’s McKay Coppins with a quite flattering 7,000 word piece on how Paul Ryan has a “newfound passion for the poor.” What is the animating core and idea of his new passion?
Ryan’s broad vision for curing American poverty is one that conservatives have been championing for the last half-century, more or less. He imagines a diverse network of local churches, charities, and service organizations doing much of the work the federal government took on in the 20th century. Rather than supplying jobless Americans with a never-ending stream of unemployment checks, for example, Ryan thinks the federal government should funnell resources toward community-based work programs like Pastor Webster’s.
My recent Voluntarism Fantasy piece (pdf) for Democracy Journal has gotten a fair amount of coverage. So I’m going to use this post, which will be updated, to keep track of the links to other people engaging, if only so I can respond in the future.
The piece was also reprinted at The Altantic Monthly.
Reddit thread with comments.
In favor of the piece:
Matt Bruenig notes that the way we discuss this reflects a deep status quo bias at The Week.
Elizabeth Stoker, channeling Niebuhr, makes the strong Christian case that charity and government social insurance go together at The Week.
Sally Steenland of Center for America Progress also addresses the fantasy in this article.
Erik Loomis makes an excellent point that in addition to the rest of the 19th century state, the “federally subsidized westward expansion was also part of this welfare state, as Republicans especially explicitly saw the frontier as a social safety net that would alleviate poverty without directly giving charity to people.”
James Kwak agrees that there’s “No Substitute for the Government” here.
Jordan Weissmann argues that “Charity Can’t Replace the Safety Net” over at Slate.
Less in favor:
Marvin Olasky, author of the Tragedy of American Compassion (which is one focal point of the article), responds in World.
Philathrophy Daily ran two articles critical of the piece, both at the forefront of the voluntarism fantasy’s worldview. The first is from Hans Zeiger and the second from Martin Morse Wooster, who breaks out the paralipsis “I could argue that Mike Konczal and the Roosevelt Institute has a hidden agenda: to force the U.S. to accept Soviet-style communism … I won’t make that argument because I know it isn’t true.”
Rich Tucker at Townhall says that I do “a better job than Barack Obama did explaining the president’s ‘You didn’t build that’ philosophy,” which I’ll take as a compliment.
Reihan Salam has a set of responses at The Agenda.
Howard Husock argues that charitably-funded, non-governmental programs are better than government at helping help individuals thrive at Forbes.
Don Watkins at the Ayn Rand Institute has a five part (!) critical response; you can work backwards from the fifth part here.
Anarchist Kevin Carson sees “the welfare state nevertheless as an evil necessitated by the state-enforced model of capitalism, and ultimately destined to wither away along with economic privilege and exploitation” in his response.
I’ll add any more as they happen. (Last updated April 11th.)
Roosevelt Institute President and CEO Felicia Wong spoke yesterday at the Income Inequality Symposium in Seattle, where she gave the closing remarks, calling on our memories of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal to urge Seattle into action on raising the minimum wage. Her prepared remarks are below. Thank you so much, Mayor
This is the third in a series of posts summarizing a new Roosevelt Institute report by Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch, entitled “The Future of Work in America: Policies to Empower American Workers and Ensure Prosperity for All.” The report provides a short history of how the rise and decline of unions and then explores reforms