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A new philosophy of social welfare is struggling for recognition in this country. Today's public welfare programs still embody much of the old theory that welfare is a form of charity and that dependency is to be blamed on the individual. A more modern school of thought considers dependency a condition beyond the control of any individual, and seeks to establish the status of welfare benefits as rights, based upon the notion that every individual, in whatever circumstances, is entitled to share in the commonwealth.
How can the status of social welfare be changed? If social welfare advocates insist upon trying to get the nation to accept a full blown welfare state philosophy, and at the same time expressly to abandon older ideals such as individual independence, they are assuming a difficult burden. These ideals are still cherished, and the welfare state still looks alien to many people. But social welfare reformers need not make such a frontal assault upon the American system. On the contrary, they may do better by seeking to fit welfare within present norms. Outside the welfare field, dependency on government is rapidly increasing in many areas of the economy. Today there is widespread private use of public funds. Many "independent" business lives are led with public assistance. This widespread and growing pattern of public-private cooperation furnishes a context which makes social welfare seem far less anomalous. Moreover, this cooperation has developed unique patterns which, if applied to social welfare, offer a route to many of the reforms which the new philosophy seeks to accomplish.
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