As soon as Government took action to assure a means of livelihood for broad classes of needy individuals, rights and privileges. It had become a matter of right. Smith was hardly a voice in the wilderness. Drafted primarily by professional social workers with the clearance of lawyers, these guides enumerated rights apart from a basic guarantee of income support that, with the creation of federal-state welfare programming, were now established in law.
These sources disrupt the narrative that scholars of U. According to conventional accounts, policymakers and administrators did their utmost to attach rights rhetoric and rights practices automatic, fixed benefits linked to minimally invasive procedures to the new social insurance program, Social Security.
At the same time, they deliberately denied those trappings to public assistance, predicting and even hoping that public assistance clients would bear the stigma associated with traditional poor relief. It demonstrates that in fact, from the late s through the late s, some administrators within the federal social welfare bureaucracy persistently characterized public assistance as a right and its recipients as rights-holders.
Rather, this Article argues, government officials targeted the thousands of workers administering public assistance at the ground level, the state and local government employees whom they could not control but who were crucial to making the New Deal public assistance programs a meaningful reform. As New Deal administrators saw it, these low-level workers were inclined to operate under an old poor law framework, under which those who received public aid were paupers.
Paupers, by definition, sacrificed personal liberty, civil and political rights, and reputation in exchange for material support. To borrow the words of citizenship theorist T. Marshall, traditional poor relief "treated the claims of the poor, not as an integral part of the rights of the citizen, but as an alternative to them—as claims which could be met only if the. This action might not be possible to undo.
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