the individual responsibility act of 1996

Marta Russell ap888 at
Sat Dec 30 14:24:29 MST 2000

Hi George --

I follow you here.
It seems to me that the push to get disabled people into jobs
over the past few years is also related to the rationale for
welfare "reform."  Welfare reform mandated women to work and
ended their entitlement while Return to Work (so far) is
voluntary.  But both stem from government role in aiding and
abetting the capitalist class.  As unemployment went down, worker
power went up and there was increased danger of inflation.  So
what did Clinton and Gop do? They forced millions of low wage
earners into the market and have pushed for reforms that allow
disabled persons to work (such as the Ticket to work and work
incentive improvement Act -- TTWWIW) to bring more workers from
the reserve army into the workplace.

I wrote an article about this that Mike Yates edited and
hopefully it will appear soon in the Review of Radical Political Economy.


George Snedeker wrote:
> we could use a Marxist analysis of the personal  Responsibility Act of 1996,
> which is often referred to as a reform of public  welfare. to begin with,
> this act dumps people into low paying jobs and weakens labor unions already
> weak position. it does not solve any fiscal crisis of the state, because
> relief does not cost that much to begin with. the 1996 law was often stated
> in purely moral terms as a way of helping the poor kick the habit of
> dependency. as we know it was really quite punitive. the Mayor of New York
> City wanted homeless people to rake leaves to earn  their keep in shelters.
> it is helpful to look back at the functions of relief in the history of
> capitalism.
> the most well known example of such an analysis is REGULATING THE POOR by
> Piven and Cloward. they argue  that relief has had two functions: to pacify
> the working class during times of revolt and to discipline the "working
> poor" so they will be willing to take the low paying shit jobs. this is why
> relief payments are kept so low,  below the poverty rate in all states. of
> course racism came to play an important ideological role justifying the
> treatment of people on public assistance in the same way that it has been
> used to divide the working class.  here lies the connection to the Prison
> Industrial Complex which also disciplines the working class. think of the
> use of cheep prison labor. corporations no longer need go all the way to
> Asia.
> this does not quite answer the question as to why now? perhaps the ruling
> class has been trying for some time to abolish the safety net which protects
> the working class. Reagan did his bit and Clinton did his.
> living on public assistance is not fun. I did it not for five years, but for
> ten years, in part because I was disabled. we are the "worthy poor." they
> let me go to both college and graduate school while on public assistance. in
> the mid 70s they put the disabled on SSI, another form of public assistance,
> so as not to confuse the "worthy" with the "unworthy" poor. still it was not
> easy, but it was necessary. I kicked my own dependency on the state when I
> got a job which allowed me to support myself.
> I'd like to see some Wall Street investors picking up garbage or raking
> leaves if it builds character?
> George

Marta Russell
author, Los Angeles, CA
Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract

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