The Public Interest

The welfare state vs. the redistributive state

Marc F. Plattner

Spring 1979

IN the course of the 1970’s, the United States has been engaged in an intensifying public debate over the future of the welfare state. At the present moment, widespread concern about inflation, along with resentment against high taxes and “big government,” is dreating pressures toward a modest retrenchment in spending on social programs. We will probably be witnessing further efforts to make these programs less wasteful and more eflacient, and even to eliminate some of the more unproductive and intrusive ones. But despite the hopes of some on the Right and the fears of some on the Left, these efforts are not likely to lead to the crippling or destruction of the welfare state; indeed, if successful, they will undoubtedly conserve and strengthen it.

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