Despite our nation's great affluence, too many Americans can't make ends meet. Too many have no health insurance or inadequate insurance. Too few have seen their boat lifted when the economic tide rises. We all know that this is wrong. Social Democratic America explains how we can do better.
Lane Kenworthy convincingly argues that we can improve economic security, expand opportunity, and ensure rising living standards for all by moving toward social democracy. In a good society, Kenworthy asserts, when the country prospers, everyone should prosper. But since the late 1970s, even as the economy boomed, relatively little of that growth has reached households in the middle and below. The only entity that can repair this trend, he notes, is the government. Kenworthy proposes a set of social programs, including universal health care, universal early education, wage insurance, the government as employer of last resort, and many others. He also looks at common objections to social democracy, such as the oft-repeated claim that Americans don't want big government, which he readily debunks. Moreover, the available evidence suggests that rich nations can generate the tax revenues needed to pay for generous social programs, while maintaining an innovative and growing economy, and without restricting liberty. Indeed, we already have in place a host of social programs, ranging from Social Security to Medicare, unemployment insurance, and Obamacare. Clearly, the good society doesn't require a radical break from our past. We just need to continue in the direction we are heading.
Drawing on his unparalleled knowledge of social policy, Kenworthy shows that the US continues to progress slowly but steadily toward a genuine social democracy. Kenworthy will attract a firestorm of criticism from some quarters, but even the most passionate doubters will have to take stock of his powerful and well-substantiated arguments.