Length:Approximately 7 pages, with Normal Fonts and Margins

Typed and Double-Spaced , with the pages stabled together.

Make sure your name appears clearly on the first page

Last night, I had a very strange dream.I dreamed that I received personal telephone calls from the major policy advisors to both political parties.The parties, allegedly, have decided to make welfare reform a major government priority for the coming legislative session and are looking for both basic understanding and specific policy recommendations.I told them all that, as an ivory-tower academic, I usually refuse to give practical counsel to politicians, but that my students would be most anxious to offer their thoughts – and so you shall.

Your task, quite simply, is to design a welfare system for America.It should be quite specific.The candidates are interested in such possible topics as local vs. national responsibilities; the extent of coverage; universal vs. categorical aid packages; benefit levels vs. costs; possible distinctions between deserving vs. undeserving poor; the relative balance among insurance, means-tested, and in-kind programs; the usefulness of family allowances or minimum income guarantees; the role of social services; the value of work incentives and requirements; the importance of the family and the role of women; the relative emphasis on making individuals self-supporting vs. assisting them in times of need, etc.

Importantly, this is not to be just a list of desired items.A reasonably coherent philosophy of welfare reform must underlie your choice.

— Your proposed reform package involves an inherent choice in favor of a specific theoretical conception of the appropriate welfare state for the U.S. and against others.In order to construct a better welfare state, you need to specify what principles underlie your conception of “better.”What alternative principles might others espouse? Why do you reject these alternative principles? What defense do you give for your theoretical approach?

— Your proposed welfare program also will embody assumptions regarding the reasons for poverty, the characteristics of the poor, the nature of American society, and the proper role for government assistance.Make sure that your paper is grounded in the relevant data. In order for you to address the problem of poverty, you need to specify exactly what ‘the problem’ is.

— You need to understand whether the U.S. currently is on the right road or the wrong road, based on your understanding of the problem and the principles you wish to achieve.

— Then you are to offer your proposed welfare program.It is necessary that you make explicit the connections between your principles, your problem, and your recommendations.You need to be comprehensive and consistent. Explicitly how do the particular policies you advocate satisfy your objectives?Why are other possible programs insufficient to solve the problem and achieve your ideals?Why is this the very best imaginable program given your aims?

— Finally, your recommendations are to be practical.What is the right balance between ideal proposals and achievable ones?What complications might your proposal encounter?How might you deal with the feasibility problem, if one exists?


Editing:The essays must be edited and proof-read.

Essays with an excessive number of elementary grammatical or spelling errors

will be penalized heavily.I will automatically subtract 5 points from any

paper that uses (even once) the wrong “its/it’s” or “which/witch” or

“whether/weather’ or ‘two/too/to’ or “their/there/they’re.”

Content:Each essay must contain a clear topic sentence in the first paragraph, stating

explicitly the specific position you wish to defend (the claim).This should be

followed, in a tightly organized fashion, by the reasons and evidence you

believe give adequate defense for this claim (the support), such that you

conclude it should be preferred to various alternate and competing plausible


Citations:You are expected to cite all sources, using a standard format.

Be aware of the definition of plagiarism and the severe penalties for


Deadlines:All paper deadlines will be strictly enforced.Papers will be penalized 5

points for every weekday late.


Your essays should not become an excuse for rhetorical excess or empty exhortation.

You should assume a sophisticated audience, with high-level critical capacities, that is already well acquainted with our class materials.You papers should be grounded firmly in the data discussed in class.In writing, you will be expected to utilize information from the lectures and readings, but you are not to summarize extensively or to reproduce at length the data you have learned.Instead, I am most interested in how you incorporate class materials creatively for the purpose of fashioning a plausible argument of your own.

The essays will be graded based upon qualitative standards — on the richness, coherence, and comprehensiveness of the views expressed, and upon the depth of the arguments used to support them relative to other plausible positions.

The main goal is to help you clarify your own beliefs, to push you to defend them rigorously, and thus to assist you in your own personal, intellectual, and political development.The range of possible options is enormous.I fully appreciate the impossibility of the task before you.All I can say is that you have been fully forewarned.Have fun.

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