The Two Welfare States

“The Two Welfare States,” Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2000.


The most notable aspect of the current presidential election has been the division that has emerged between the two versions of the welfare state envisaged by the two parties.

An older, masculine, paternalistic version of the welfare state is fighting a guerrilla war against a newer and firmly established feminine-maternalistic conception of the welfare state. Nor is this a peculiarly American phenomenon. Something like it is visible in all the Western democracies. Though some intellectuals, especially in Europe, still chatter about conflict between a welfare state and a “free market” state, that polarity ceased to exist almost a century ago.