Social Policy: Crash Course Government and Politics #49

Hello, I’m Craig and this is Crash Course Government & Politics and today we’re going to talk about social policy. I have a lot of social policies, which include
not staying out past 3AM on weeknights, and avoiding social gatherings where
velveeta sausage cheese dip is served. Both of these are pretty loosely enforced, though. Actually, we’re talking about government
social policy, which deals with things like social security, education, and healthcare. And hopefully velveeta sausage cheese dip.
But… probably not. [Theme Music] In talking about policy, it’s really hard
to separate social policy or foreign policy from economic policy, primarily because they’re
all paid for with money. One way to distinguish between them is to look at a policy’s goals. Social policy has a number of goals, none
of which is the outright promotion of social-ism. Glad that’s out of the way and no one is going to comment on it at all in the comments. Peace on Earth. In America, social policy consists of programs
that seek to do at least three things. Some social programs protect against risk and insecurity, like from job loss, health problems or disability. Other social programs seek to promote
equal opportunity. Finally, some social programs attempt to assist
the poor. Of these three goals, there’s general agreement that promoting equal opportunity
is a good thing, less agreement on whether the government should protect us from risk,
and widespread skepticism about helping the poor. Americans traditionally haven’t cared
much for social policy, and part of the reason for this has to do with Americans’ strong faith in individualism that is suspicious of government action, and generally favors private charity and pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps self-reliance. I don’t think I’ve ever worn bootstraps,
Stan. Does that make me a true American? As you might have guessed, the history of
the American government social policy pretty much starts, as most government programs do,
with the New Deal. Prior to the 1930s there were some attempts
on the state level to protect workers and limit exploitation, but often these were struck
down by the courts, and the Federal government’s role in protecting people from risk was minimal. The government did provide pensions to veterans’
widows, but except for a relatively brief period after the Civil War, the numbers of
pension recipients were never very large. The Great Depression changed the way that
Americans came to view their government, and also modified how many of them felt about
poverty. The suffering caused by the Depression was so great and so widespread that many
Americans came to feel that it was part of the government’s job to do something about it. Private charities, which had been the primary
way that Americans had helped the poor before the Depression, could not handle the numbers
of needy people. In addition, not all of these people could be considered to have become
poor due to their own personal failings. The Great Depression helped solidify the idea
that people could sometimes be victims of economic forces beyond their control, and
that it was the government’s duty to help them. Basically, the Great Depression changed
people’s question from “if the government should help” to “how should the government
help?” The answer to that question came in the form
of the New Deal. You’ve probably heard about the New Deal; it’s a big deal. But we’ve
only got 12 minutes, so we’re going to focus on two specific programs: Social Security and
Aid to Families with Dependent Children, or AFDC. And if you judge by public opinion polls — and
who doesn’t — then Social Security is one of the most successful New Deal programs ever.
Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. Started in 1935, the Social Security Act was
a reaction to the fact that many elderly people in the U.S. were poor, largely because they
had no work, little savings, and no pensions. Social Security provided monthly payments
to people over age 65, and while no one was getting rich, it was enough money to prevent
people from falling into abject poverty. A couple of things about Social Security.
First, it’s not a savings program; you pay into it when you are working but that money doesn’t go into an account for you to access when you retire. So how does it work? Well, when you are working
and on a payroll, taxes are deducted from your wages and the amount is matched by your
employers. The total amount that gets taken out is 7.65% with 6.2% going to Social Security
and the other 1.45% going to Medicare, which provides health coverage for older people.
This money goes into a pot, which is then paid out to people over the age of 65. In other words,
today’s workers are paying today’s older Americans. The benefits are indexed, which
means that they go up with inflation. This program redistributes wealth from younger
working people to older retired people. Because the more you make, the more you pay — at
least up to a point because there’s a cap on the amount of your salary that’s subject
to the payroll tax – Social Security also redistributes wealth from richer people to
poorer ones. In general, Americans are suspicious of programs
that redistribute wealth, but Social Security is very popular with both liberals and conservatives.
Conservatives tend to like it because it is funded by a regressive payroll tax that phases
out at higher incomes, rather than a more progressive one that would hit high earners
harder. Liberals like it because it provides automatic benefits for the elderly. Thanks, Thought Bubble. Whether Social Security
is in crisis depends a lot on what numbers you look at and whether you believe that there
are political solutions to potential problems. The number of people receiving benefits is
rising – approximately 50 million Americans receive Social Security and that number is
increasing as baby boomers get older – and the number of people paying into it is falling. Eventually, if these trends continue, there
will come a time when there might not be enough money paid in to Social Security to pay out
benefits to those who qualify. This shouldn’t be an issue since Social
Security spending is controlled by Congressional legislation, and they can always raise the
payroll tax or raise the benefit age above 65. Should be easy.
Uncontroversial. Since older people tend to vote, there’s a strong incentive for Congress to fix any problems and keep the benefits coming. Also, it would be a national embarrassment for Congress to let it go bankrupt. Medicare, which is also paid for by payroll
taxes, is probably in more trouble, partly because of the same demographics that are
putting pressure on Social Security, but mainly because of rising medical costs which Medicare
can only do so much to control. Medicare is a third party payer for its medical
benefits, it doesn’t actually provide doctors or medicine or stuff that makes people healthy.
Since it does cover more than 45 million Americans, Medicare has some leverage over costs, but, at least until recently, those costs have been rising rapdily. Social Security is generally popular, but I’ll tell you what was unpopular: Aid to Families with Dependent Children. In fact, it was so unpopular that we
don’t even have it anymore! Like imagine this eagle as the AFDC
(punches eagle)… metaphor. AFDC is what Americans tend to think of when
we talk about “welfare.” It was a system that paid benefits to women with children
and the amount of the payments went up or down depending on how many children you had. AFDC was what is called a non-contributory
program, which means what it sounds like: you didn’t need to have contributed through
taxes to be eligible or to receive benefits. There are still some non-contributory social
welfare programs, most notably free school lunches, federal housing assistance programs,
and supplemental nutrition assistance program, also known as SNAP or food stamps. Another is the successor to AFDC, Temporary
Aid to Needy Families, or T.A.N.F. or TANF. In the 1980’s, conservatives argued that
these AFDC checks created dependency or at the very least an incentive to not work, and
increasing welfare payments were pointed to as a criticism of liberalism in general. But conservatives weren’t able to reform
welfare in the 80’s, because even though a majority of Americans didn’t like it, passing laws is difficult, especially when Congress is hostile to you. It took a Democratic president, Bill Clinton,
to push welfare reform through Congress, which in 1996 passed the Personal Responsibility
and Opportunity Reconciliation Act, better known as the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. This law got rid of Aid to Families with Dependent
Children and replaced it with Temporary Aid to Needy Families, which emphasized that any
aid to needy families was going to be TEMPORARY, by putting that as the first word in its title. There are now work restriction that recipients
must meet in order to get benefits, and there are time restrictions. You can only receive
benefits for two years in a row and five years total. All of this was supposed to encourage
people to get off welfare, and as the name of the law tells us, exercise greater personal
responsibility. So did it work? It kind of worked. The number
of people receiving welfare did decrease and more people did look for and find work. On the other hand, the law didn’t reduce
poverty, although to be fair that wasn’t what it was supposed to do — it was supposed
to reduce welfare. Also, during economic downturns as in 2001
and 2009, welfare caseloads rose again, suggesting that the work that people did find might not
be such a stable solution to relieving poverty. So this episode has focused mainly on the
more controversial aspects of social policy, those that involve redistribution of wealth
from richer to poor Americans, and I’m sure all of you commenters are fine with that. Actually, probably not. For a lot of reasons,
some economic, but many cultural, Americans have generally been suspicious of these redistributive
programs. Remember that I said one goal of social policy, one that is not very controversial, is increasing opportunity. And for most of us, the key to increasing opportunity is education. Which is what we’re doing right here! Education is one social policy that almost
everyone agrees on, under the theory that if everyone is educated they will be able
to find good, high paying jobs that will enable them to achieve greater economic stability
and mitigate the risks in their own lives without the government having to do it for
them. Whether it works or not, and just how much
the government should be involved, are questions that you will have to think about and argue
over with your friends and families and teachers and teacher’s teachers and teacher’s grandmas
and the guy at McDonalds…maybe the guy standing next to you at the Velveeta sausage cheese
dip platter. But it’s important to remember that social
policy isn’t just redistribution of wealth or income, it’s also education and programs
that help people who really can’t help themselves. Thanks for watching.
See you next time. Crash Course Government and Politics is produced
in association with PBS Digital Studios. Support for Crash Course: U.S. Government comes from
Voqal. Voqal supports nonprofits that use technology and media to advance social equity. Learn more about their mission and initiatives at Crash Course was made with the help of all these Velveeta sausage cheese dips. Thanks for watching.

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37 thoughts on “Social Policy: Crash Course Government and Politics #49

  1. I love having worked 3 close to minimum wage jobs, where they all stole from me, or caused me harm, or found loopholes or other shady means to not give me what I had earned and worked for. I was very conservative and used to think the minimum wage should be abolished and had faith that people were generally good. OH boy was I wrong when I had to start working enough to support myself. Particularly the people where I live.

  2. PLEASE SOMEONE HELP.! he says that the new deal made medicare, FDR, but I thought it was Lyndon B. Johnson with the Great Society. WHO DID IT?

  3. You're talking to fast; the second I grasp what you're saying you move on quickly to something else. I understand I can pause the video and that you have limited time to explain.

  4. While the presentation was overall efficacious because it was informative, you ought to appear more disinterested. Try avoiding broad strokes. Take for instance the phrase you used, "Americans are skeptical of X", well that's just not true. Americans can't be bundled together in a way that ignores the breadth of our views. Instead, try "some Americans are skeptical of redistributive American Government social policy programs". Looking forward to more refreshers with you material. Take great care!

  5. Why are Americans SO afraid of socialism? It's ridiculous, I live in Canada and the socialism here needs to increase! Socialism = equal opportunity, justice, and compassion. Ya know, like CHRISTIAN values.

  6. thank u sir it was very beneficial episode, especially the subtitles was there helps a lot
    to understand because my language is Arabic .very appreciated your efforts .best regards from Iraq

  7. Thanks Craig! I just passed my American Government CLEP test! I only studied for 3 weeks and ended up with an extra $900 in my pocket (well- sort of)!

  8. My Policies:

    Eco power

    Ban on atheism

    Help animal, and needy

    SJWism as a course or class


    Scientific research

    Religious research

    Ban on Alt-Right

    Internet connection fixed

    Human tech in general fixed

  9. Does Crashcourse run a speech rate test when they're looking for presenters, and the fastest one gets the job? Thank God YouTube's video speed button 🙂 Just kidding, amazing content as usual.

  10. 1:17 – That right there is why the rich/poor divide in the U.S. has become so disproportionately huge. A culture of individualism and "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" might sound good, however with minimal government intervention what you end up with an aggressive dog eat dog culture, with the end result being some winners and many losers.

    Since the losers often find themselves in a massive hole with minimal support to recover, they can end up stuck there forever. This is undoubtedly one reason why so many poor people protest voted for Trump. It was an attempt to change the status quo. Unfortunately that was a gamble that almost certainly make the situation worse, not better. On the plus side, Trump is so alarmingly bad, it might be just enough to jolt regular politicians into promoting social mobility.

  11. hey bored well let get to 666 commets and mute this vid then listen to a theory this for people like meh

  12. as you drop down in age the work ethic drops off. kids live in a fantasy reinforced by leftism at every turn.

  13. Fun fact:you can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps. It was meant as a metaphor to mean you can't do it alone.

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