This paper reviews the structure and trends of the U.S. welfare system and the U.S. Administration’s reform proposals. It shows that, despite the attention the program receives, the welfare program is actually quite small and has experienced moderate rates of growth. However, the system does face serious problems. In particular, its structure sets up strong financial disincentives to paid employment and saving at the same time that its low level of benefits fails to lift low-income children and their families out of poverty.
The Soviet ruling elite, the nomenklatura, used both cooption and political repression to encourage loyalty to the communist regime. Loyalty was critical both in defusing internal opposition to the rule of the nomenklatura and in either deterring or defeating foreign enemies of the Soviet Union. We assume that the nomenklatura determined the extent of cooption and the intensity of political repression by equating their perceived marginal benefits and marginal costs. We use this assumption to construct an account of the historical evolution of policies of cooption and political repression in the Soviet Union.