Time magazine cover: “One Nation on Welfare. Living Your Life on the Dole”

This is an interesting cover story amidst the current election cycle and arguments about how much the government should be involved in day to day life: much of our current lives are already subsidized by the government.

Three things to note:

1. This story plays with what we mean by “welfare.” While there is a particular set of policies this typically refers to, the definition is expanded here.

2. While the two parties try to cast the other side as being on extreme, both parties want some government involvement. Democrats don’t want all of life run by the government just as Republicans don’t want no government involvement whatsoever. We’re talking about differences in degrees though this often gets cast as two different ideological poles.

3. I’m not sure Grunwald plays enough with the idea that while Americans may be okay with government funding certain things, they also tend to like local control over certain matters. In this sense, it is not just government vs. no government; it is “big government” in Washington versus “local government” represented by a local school board, park district, or municipality. The levels of government are important in this discussion as residents who pay taxes often want to feel like they still have some control over their tax dollars.

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