Introduction to Case Studies
In the preceding chapters I have examined several sets of obstacles to the establishment of basic socioeconomic rights and to the use of public social programs to realize these rights. I now want to apply these analyses to case studies of three existing programs. In turn, in chapter 8 I will integrate the conclusions of these case studies and detail a new approach—the investments approach—to American social provision.
The case studies presented here employ the focused comparison technique of Alexander George. The following questions guide these studies:
What are the criteria for the distribution of benefits?
Do they reflect effort or results and thus appeal to American concerns for human dignity and vertical equity?
Do they reflect need? If so, are they categorical, thus raising concerns for horizontal equity? What mechanisms exist for certifying the need?
To what degree are benefits linked to the provision of basic goods?
To what degree does this program represent an attack on traditional property rights?
Negative Liberty and Individualism
Is the program compulsory or voluntary?
In what ways and roughly to what degree do the taxes supporting this program constrain liberty?
Aside from compulsory taxation, to what degree and in what ways are the liberties of benefit recipients constrained?
To what degree and in what ways is the liberty of various third-party providers constrained?
To what degree and in what ways might this program stimulate or retard propensities to work in the paid labor force?
To what degree and in what ways might this program stimulate or retard household propensities to save?
To what degree and in what ways might this program influence the propensity for corporate managers or entrepreneurs to take risks?
To what degree and in what ways might this program influence the international competitiveness of American goods and services?
What are the direct monetary costs of the program and who pays them? Is redistribution horizontal, intergenerational, or vertical?
To what degree does this program target a population with particularly difficult problems? What, if any, disturbing consequences do these problems hold for program operations?
How do the tasks the program requires relate to its administrative capacities? What is the program's administrative efficiency?
How effectively are limits or harmonization problems managed?
How does the public profile of the program relate to abstract American preferences for limited and local government?
Conflicts of Interest and Compliance
To what degree and in what ways does the program raise important conflicts of interest among explicitly targeted beneficiaries, national government officials, and third-party (public or private) providers?
To what degree and in what ways is the program structured to provide incentives for cooperation with program objectives from explicitly targeted beneficiaries, national government officials, and third-party (public or private) providers?