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What Film Noir Can Teach Us about "Welfare as We Know It"

What Film Noir Can Teach Us about "Welfare as We Know It" Page 135 In 1996, when President Clinton promised to “end welfare as we know it,” he indulged in his now legendary parsing of the English language. He was not going to end welfare tout court, just welfare as we know it. But no one questioned whether we as a nation actually did know it, either experientially or theoretically. Certainly speculation ran to what the new configuration would look like; but little attention was paid to its history. What is the welfare we know? The Social Security Act of 1935, the 1944 GI Bill of Rights, the Interstate Highway Act of 1956, all of which have been enormously successful in alleviating poverty through pensions, education, health insurance, and subsidies for construction and jobs, most of which have benefited white male workers and their families? No. Welfare is a program that enables welfare queens to drive Cadillacs, as Ronald Reagan once asserted. A devious tool pathologizing the black family, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan once implied. The root cause of the “culture of poverty,” which could not be alleviated even when Lyndon Johnson declared a “war on poverty.”1 In short, under the reign of Cadillac queens lodged in a sick and http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Social Text Duke University Press

What Film Noir Can Teach Us about "Welfare as We Know It"

Social Text , Volume 18 (1 62) – Mar 1, 2000

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2000 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0164-2472
eISSN
1527-1951
DOI
10.1215/01642472-18-1_62-135
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Page 135 In 1996, when President Clinton promised to “end welfare as we know it,” he indulged in his now legendary parsing of the English language. He was not going to end welfare tout court, just welfare as we know it. But no one questioned whether we as a nation actually did know it, either experientially or theoretically. Certainly speculation ran to what the new configuration would look like; but little attention was paid to its history. What is the welfare we know? The Social Security Act of 1935, the 1944 GI Bill of Rights, the Interstate Highway Act of 1956, all of which have been enormously successful in alleviating poverty through pensions, education, health insurance, and subsidies for construction and jobs, most of which have benefited white male workers and their families? No. Welfare is a program that enables welfare queens to drive Cadillacs, as Ronald Reagan once asserted. A devious tool pathologizing the black family, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan once implied. The root cause of the “culture of poverty,” which could not be alleviated even when Lyndon Johnson declared a “war on poverty.”1 In short, under the reign of Cadillac queens lodged in a sick and

Journal

Social TextDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2000

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