front cover of Administrative Burden
Administrative Burden
Policymaking by Other Means
Pamela Herd
Russell Sage Foundation, 2018

Winner of the 2020 Outstanding Book Award  Presented by the Public and Nonprofit Section of the National Academy of Management

Winner of the 2019 Louis Brownlow Book Award  from the National Academy of Public Administration
 

Bureaucracy, confusing paperwork, and complex regulations—or what public policy scholars Pamela Herd and Donald Moynihan call administrative burdens—often introduce delay and frustration into our experiences with government agencies. Administrative burdens diminish the effectiveness of public programs and can even block individuals from fundamental rights like voting. In AdministrativeBurden, Herd and Moynihan document that the administrative burdens citizens regularly encounter in their interactions with the state are not simply unintended byproducts of governance, but the result of deliberate policy choices. Because burdens affect people’s perceptions of government and often perpetuate long-standing inequalities, understanding why administrative burdens exist and how they can be reduced is essential for maintaining a healthy public sector.
 
Through in-depth case studies of federal programs and controversial legislation, the authors show that administrative burdens are the nuts-and-bolts of policy design. Regarding controversial issues such as voter enfranchisement or abortion rights, lawmakers often use administrative burdens to limit access to rights or services they oppose. For instance, legislators have implemented administrative burdens such as complicated registration requirements and strict voter-identification laws to suppress turnout of African American voters. Similarly, the right to an abortion is legally protected, but many states require women seeking abortions to comply with burdens such as mandatory waiting periods, ultrasounds, and scripted counseling. As Herd and Moynihan demonstrate, administrative burdens often disproportionately affect the disadvantaged who lack the resources to deal with the financial and psychological costs of navigating these obstacles.
 
However, policymakers have sometimes reduced administrative burdens or shifted them away from citizens and onto the government. One example is Social Security, which early administrators of the program implemented in the 1930s with the goal of minimizing burdens for beneficiaries. As a result, the take-up rate is about 100 percent because the Social Security Administration keeps track of peoples’ earnings for them, automatically calculates benefits and eligibility, and simply requires an easy online enrollment or visiting one of 1,200 field offices. Making more programs and public services operate this efficiently, the authors argue, requires adoption of a nonpartisan, evidence-based metric for determining when and how to institute administrative burdens, with a bias toward reducing them. By ensuring that the public’s interaction with government is no more onerous than it need be, policymakers and administrators can reduce inequality, boost civic engagement, and build an efficient state that works for all citizens.
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America Unequal
Sheldon H. Danziger and Peter Gottschalk
Harvard University Press, 1995

America Unequal demonstrates how powerful economic forces have diminished the prospects of millions of Americans and why "a rising tide no longer lifts all boats." Changes in the economy, public policies, and family structure have contributed to slow growth in family incomes and rising economic inequality. Poverty remains high because of an erosion of employment opportunities for less-skilled workers, not because of an erosion of the work ethic; because of a failure of government to do more for the poor and the middle class, not because of social programs.

There is nothing about a market economy, the authors say, that ensures that a rising standard of living will reduce inequality. If a new technology, such as computerization, leads firms to hire more managers and fewer typists, then the wages of lower-paid secretaries will decline and the wages of more affluent managers will increase. Such technological changes as well as other economic changes, particularly the globalization of markets, have had precisely this effect on the distribution of income in the United States.

America Unequal challenges the view, emphasized in the Republicans' "Contract with America," that restraining government social spending and cutting welfare should be our top domestic priorities. Instead, it proposes a set of policies that would reduce poverty by supplementing the earnings of low-wage workers and increasing the employment prospects of the jobless. Such demand-side policies, Sheldon Danziger and Peter Gottschalk argue, are essential for correcting a labor market that has been increasingly unable to absorb less-skilled and less-experienced workers.

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American Rhetoric in the New Deal Era, 1932-1945
A Rhetorical History of the United States, Volume VII
Thomas Benson
Michigan State University Press, 2006

The New Deal era is hard to define with precision—in time or in ideology. Some historians use New Deal to designate the intense period of domestic reform legislation of the first Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration, 1933–37. Others confine discussion of the era to the legislation of 1933, and identify another wave of legislation in 1935 as a Second New Deal. Most of the essays in this book focus on the prewar period, with glimpses that look forward to the rhetoric of the approach to and engagement in World War II.

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America's Path Forward
Conversations with Social Innovators on the Power of Communities Everywhere
Konstanze Frischen
Georgetown University Press, 2023

Critiques and solutions offered by social changemakers from all walks of life

The United States is living through a period of polarization and upheaval. We hunger for answers, yet too often turn to the same people and institutions, expecting different outcomes. How can this be?

America's Path Forward takes a different angle. It features award-winning social innovators from all walks of life with decades of experience of working in and with their communities across America. In twenty-two deep, idea-packed conversations, they share their analyses, practical insights, and policy recommendations—on how to gain common ground, get the country unstuck, and increase prosperity and well-being for all.

These narratives share a common thread: They see community members—workers, young people, parents, neighbors, from Appalachia to Silicon Valley, from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes— as creative, resourceful, and strong, with unique expertise and lived experience of the problem at hand, whose changemaking energy can be tapped to build a better future for all of us.

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front cover of America’s Struggle against Poverty in the Twentieth Century
America’s Struggle against Poverty in the Twentieth Century
Enlarged Edition
James T. Patterson
Harvard University Press, 2000
This new edition of Patterson's widely used book carries the story of battles over poverty and social welfare through what the author calls the "amazing 1990s," those years of extraordinary performance of the economy. He explores a range of issues arising from the economic phenomenon--increasing inequality and demands for use of an improved poverty definition. He focuses the story on the impact of the highly controversial welfare reform of 1996, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic President Clinton, despite the laments of anguished liberals.
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AND SIN NO MORE
SOCIAL POLICY AND UNWED MOTHERS IN CLEVE
MARIAN J. MORTON
The Ohio State University Press, 1993

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As the World Ages
Rethinking a Demographic Crisis
Kavita Sivaramakrishnan
Harvard University Press, 2018

People are living longer, creating an unexpected boom in the elderly population. Longevity is increasing not only in wealthy countries but in developing nations as well. In response, many policy makers and scholars are preparing for a global crisis of aging. But for too long, Western experts have conceived of aging as a universal predicament—one that supposedly provokes the same welfare concerns in every context. In the twenty-first century, Kavita Sivaramakrishnan writes, we must embrace a new approach to the problem, one that prioritizes local agendas and values.

As the World Ages is a history of how gerontologists, doctors, social scientists, and activists came to define the issue of global aging. Sivaramakrishnan shows that transnational organizations like the United Nations, private NGOs, and philanthropic foundations embraced programs that reflected prevailing Western ideas about development and modernization. The dominant paradigm often assumed that, because large-scale growth of an aging population happened first in the West, developing societies will experience the issues of aging in the same ways and on the same terms as their Western counterparts. But regional experts are beginning to question this one-size-fits-all model and have chosen instead to recast Western expertise in response to provincial conditions. Focusing on South Asia and Africa, Sivaramakrishnan shows how regional voices have argued for an approach that responds to local needs and concerns. The research presented in As the World Ages will help scholars, policy makers, and advocates appreciate the challenges of this recent shift in global demographics and find solutions sensitive to real life in diverse communities.

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At the Heart of the State
The Moral World of Institutions
Didier Fassin, et al.
Pluto Press, 2015

The state is often regarded as an abstract and neutral bureaucratic entity. Against this common sense idea, At the Heart of the State argues that it is also a concrete and situated reality, embodied in the work of its agents and inscribed in the issues of its time. 

The result of a five-year investigation conducted by ten scholars, this book describes and analyses the police, the court system, the prison apparatus, the social services, and mental health facilities in France. Combining genealogy and ethnography, its authors show that these state institutions do not simply implement laws, rules and procedures: they mobilise values and affects, judgements and emotions. In other words, they reflect the morality of the state. 

Of immense interest to both social scientists and political theorists, this work will make an important contribution to the ever expanding literature on the contemporary state.

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