Term Paper: Social Welfare Policy

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[. . .] The 1980s and 1990s were decades of intense activity on public policies affecting low-income Americans. Lawmakers in Washington D.C., and in state capitals modified the financing, structure, and services of major cash welfare, health, child-care, tax, and related policies. These policy changes have had important implications for the structure and the generosity of assistance to low-income individuals and families. The 1996 federal welfare-reform law, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), raises particularly interesting and controversial questions about the roles of federal and state authorities in social welfare policy. By reversing the individual entitlement to cash assistance formerly granted under the Social Security Act, the 1996 law gives states greater latitude to modify eligibility and other requirements for welfare assistance." (Peck, 2002)


Imperialism refers to forced expansion of one country's influence on other, less-developed or less powerful nation. It is important to bear in mind that imperialism need not be military in nature because as recent history proves, it can often be economic or cultural as well. In other words, when a country tries various military or economic tactics to spread its influence to other countries and then seeks to control those countries because of its influence, the situation is referred to as imperialism. "Obviously, imperialism does not necessarily imply the outright domination of other countries as in colonialism, one form of imperialism. The crucial factor is to impose, within the dominated countries, a government prone to the development of economic relations favorable to the interest of dominating countries. This can be achieved by all means: collaboration with local ruling classes, subversion, or war. Such domination is compatible with what is called "democracy" or dictatorship, depending on circumstances. States are, indeed, crucial, both within dominating and dominated countries."

In colonial times, it was the British, Dutch and French who forcefully expanded their influence, entered other countries and occupied them to subjugate the natives and turn them into slaves. With the end of colonial era, we probably thought that imperialism had died. But that appears to be anything but true because we are now witnessing the rise of this phenomenon again, only this time; it is the United States and not Europe that has become the imperialist force.

We must understand that America's policy of spreading its influence to other lands and geographical areas is now being carried out mostly by its corporations and in some cases its military. But back in the 1800s, when the country was still in its infancy, America through use of force made its clear to its weaker neighbors that it was seeking world domination through whichever means possible. During 1840s, America decided to stretch its boundaries further by chopping Texas off the map of Mexico and make it a territory of the United States. The strangest thing about this plan was that United States behaved in the most arrogant manner claiming that it was its right to expand its boundaries since the population of the country was exploding due to immigration. This type of attitude made it clear that United States would one day want to dominate the entire world by different methods. The United States government of those times was similar to Israel of today in its expansion plans. Both governments feel they are destined to grow and expand because they are God's chosen people.

Manifest Destiny' was the term given to this mission by the journalist John L. O'Sullivan who felt that other so-called less fortunate countries should not create obstacles in the America's plan of expansion,." hampering our power, limiting our greatness, and checking the fulfillment of our Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions...." The term carried a condescending tone and brought America's arrogance to the surface.

It also gave people a clear signal regarding America's future plans because Manifest Destiny was not simply a plan to expand territorial boundaries of the country, it was the first step taken by American towards globalization. William Jay Jacobs (1993) writes, "Many Americans of the time were convinced that the United States was a very special country with a very special future. It was, they said, their mission -- their 'manifest destiny' ' -- to spread the blessings of liberty and democracy to the less fortunate people of Canada, the Far West (California and Oregon), Mexico, and Central America."

Later in 1898, Spanish-American War further consolidated America's imperialist position in the world when United States took over former Spanish Colonies of Cuba, The Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico. Hawaii was the next big target and as always, American first entered the land through the corporate route. Hawaii was an independent kingdom that was largely invaded by American corporations during the nineteenth century. Large business firms such as Dole Pineapple began consolidating American presence in the kingdom and by 1898; President Dole announced annexation and Hawaii became United States' territory.

The list of such conquests is endless and American imperialism is now an established fact. No matter how the country tries to deny the charge of imperialism, the fact remains that its interventionist foreign policy is definitely no accident. The world realized this a long time back and now scholars unanimously agree that "the series of so-called foreign policy "mistakes" underlying our involvement may very well be no mistakes at all, but rather part of a consistent policy to defend an empire. That the U.S. is an imperialist power, second to none in the world today, can no longer be dismissed as empty rhetoric or a mere piece of communist propaganda. The nature or unique character of this imperialism, however, is still a much debated issue." (Fann et al. p. v)

America's imperialist military and economic strategies have given rise to extreme resentment in other nations. This resentment has now been translated into terrorist attacks, which are only hurting America interests and citizens around the globe. When terrorists target American land or people, the first excuse that comes out of governmental quarters is always grounded in U.S.'s flawed perceptions. It is believed that America is being targeted because of its superior status in the world. Little attention however is paid to America's foreign policy that requires military intervention by the United States every time something goes wrong in any corner of the world, however obscure. On top of that America has failed to bring about any positive changes in the situation of those countries. Conflicts more or less remain unresolved and economic and social conditions worsen with American intervention thereby giving rise to immense resentment against United States interests. Richard J. Barnett (1990) sheds light on America's interventionist foreign policy and traces its roots, "Since the end of World War II, it has been an axiom of American foreign policy that national security required a continuing commitment to intervene -- by military means, if necessary -- in internal wars and insurgencies, mostly in the Third World, in order to prevent revolutionary political change and "Marxist-Leninist" models of economic development."

Middle East conflict is the most perfect example of American intervention going haywire and thus resulting in extreme hatred of America and everything that it stands for. American's foreign policy was to maintain military presence in this region in order to control any domestic violence and insurgencies. However its perpetual presence has only further worsened the situation and no positive solution has come out of this. It appears as if America has a special interest in keeping the conflict alive in this region because its failure is so obvious that it should have pulled out a long time back. America's presence in the Middle East has been useless because as far as the conflict is concerned, it is certainly a domestic problem that Palestinian and Israel leadership should be able to resolve without external diplomatic help, let alone military support pouring in from a America and its Allies. It has also been noticed that America's intervention has always resulted in further economic and social problems in the conflict-infected countries. The economic hardships breed terrorism in these victim countries because American intervention is mostly viewed as interference grounded in ulterior selfish motives of the so-called 'peacekeepers'.

After Palestine and Lebanon, came Iraq that recently became the target of America's imperialist military power.

America is now the new imperial force, which many believe is different from the European imperialist countries of colonial times. This difference is grounded in the motives of the two forces. Europeans were mainly interested in new markets, wealth and raw material while America is equally interested in occupying more land and is essentially a controlling monster. It simply cannot allow other nations to make their own decisions and disregard American interests and thus feels that it is important to make its presence felt in almost every corner of the world. This has essentially resulted in extreme anti-American sentiment in the world, which is seriously hurting the American population around the globe.


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