Category Archives: Opinion

Review: Thomas Bahle, Vanessa Hubl, and Michaela Pfeifer, The Last Safety Net: A handbook of minimum income protection in Europe

This thoroughly researched survey of European means-tested minimum income protection (MIP) systems – the safety-nets into which households and individuals fall if other earned or benefits income is insufficient – will quickly become an essential research tool for anyone interested in social policy generally and in income maintenance in particular. The more precarious nature of both families and employment has made means-tested safety nets more significant for increasing numbers of citizens, which means that means-tested systems will become more politically important (and this, in turn, is one of the factors that has led to Iain Duncan Smith’s success with Universal Credit). Greater political importance will mean more social policy debate, more need for research, and more need for books such as this one.

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Review: Kevin Farnsworth and Zoë Irving (eds), Social Policy in Challenging Times: Economic crisis and welfare systems

Whilst in all of the countries studied in this edited collection the welfare state can be regarded as entering a new age of austerity, the picture that emerges is one of diversity: of different kinds of financial crisis in different countries, of different cultural contexts, and of different effects on welfare provision. For instance: ‘Liberal market economies … are least well equipped in both economic buffers and social solidarity to deal with the impact of a crisis in welfare funding because interests are not shared corporately or between social classes’

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Review: Tony Fitzpatrick, Welfare Theory: An introduction to the theoretical debates in social policy

This accessible and thoroughly researched book is also a vindication of Fitzpatrick’s conviction that ‘welfare theory’ – the philosophy of social policy – is a discipline in its own right. Welfare theory draws on both ‘social theory (the philosophy of sociology and social science) and political theory (the philosophy of politics and government)’ (p.xv), but it orders things in its own way and develops its own emphases. It is not insignificant that the first chapter is entitled ‘wellbeing’, now a focal concept for welfare theorists and social policy makers.

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OPINION: Report from Brussels, 26-27 April 2012

More than fifty delegates, of all ages and from sixteen countries, gathered at the European Parliament in Brussels on the 26th and 27th April 2012 to discuss an exciting new venture: a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) entitled ‘Unconditional Basic Income’ (UBI). This was the inspiration of Klaus Sambor from Austria. Together with a group of people who met in Vienna

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OPINION: Iran’s Citizen’s Income Scheme and its Lessons

In December 2010, Iran became the first country in the world to establish a nationwide Citizen’s or Basic Income scheme. Interestingly, the scheme did not emerge by design but by default: it was the by-product of an effort to reform an outdated system of price subsidies that concerned primarily fuel products. A basic income proved to be the most practical way of compensating the population for the loss of subsidies that had been costing some US$100-120 billion a year.

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OPINION: BRICS should evaluate cash transfers

The BRICS Heads of State Summit in Delhi this week presents an excellent opportunity to launch some joint initiatives that would help promote the aims of the meeting, security and stability. Among those, one stands out that could easily be sidelined. The leaders of India, Brazil, China, Russia and South Africa face a common challenge arising from the fact that

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OPINION: The Sad But Predictable Downfall of the Cato Institute

Article by: Almaz Zelleke   The Cato Institute, a non-partisan Washington, D.C. think tank founded in 1977 to promote and disseminate libertarian views, is in danger. Due to a highly unusual and, in hindsight, highly unfortunate shareholder structure for a non-profit, it finds itself at risk of a hostile takeover by two of its co-founders, billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch.

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Review: Peter Dwyer, Understanding Social Citizenship

The number of degree course modules on ‘citizenship’ is increasing, and this book is designed as a core text; but it will be useful not just to teachers and students, but also to social policy practitioners and politicians because the contested and complex concept of citizenship now informs debate on all manner of social policy issues, as this book amply shows.

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