More Democracy, Less Poverty

by Larry Patriquin

acknowledgements: A preliminary version of the ideas herein was presented in a talk given to the Ontario Association of Social Workers, Annual Lunch and Guest Speaker Event, North Bay, Ontario, in March 2010. A more developed version was presented as a paper at the Historical Materialism Conference in Toronto in May 2010. I thank participants at both forums for their comments.

1. Katherine van Wormer, "A Society Without Poverty – The Norwegian Experience," Social Work 39 (1994), 326-7.

2. William Julius Wilson, "The Political and Economic Forces Shaping Concentrated Poverty," Political Science Quarterly 123 (2008-09), 556, 564, 570-1.

3. Elizabeth A. Segal, "Social Empathy: A New Paradigm to Address Poverty," Journal of Poverty 11, no. 3 (2007), 76-7.

4. Neal Wood, Tyranny in America: Capitalism and National Decay (London, 2004), 51.

5. Michael B. Katz, In the Shadow of the Poorhouse: A Social History of Welfare in America, 10th anniversary ed. (New York, 1996), ix.

6. Sheila Collins, Let Them Eat Ketchup! The Politics of Poverty and Inequality (New York, 1996), 20.

7. Janet Poppendieck, Sweet Charity? Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement (New York, 1998), 139.

8. Both cited in Michael Parenti, Democracy for the Few, 7th ed. (Belmont, CA, 2002), 45.

9. Anthony Arblaster, Democracy, 2d ed. (Buckingham, 1994), 38.

10. Parenti, 38.

11. Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (New York, 2004), 249.

12. The Social Democrats are currently in opposition. They were defeated in 2006, and they failed to regain power in the 2010 election. Perhaps this portends difficult times to come for the Swedish welfare state.

13. New York Times, Most U.S. Union Members Are Working for the Government, New Data Shows, January 23, 2010. Accessed May 9, 2010.

14. Arblaster, 19.

15. Ellen Meiksins Wood, Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism (Cambridge, 1995), 216.

16. New York Times, Your Senator Is (Probably) a Millionaire, November 25, 2009. Accessed April 26, 2010.

17. Marion Gret and Yves Sintomer, The Porto Alegre Experiment: Learning Lessons for Better Democracy (London, 2005), viii.

18. Ibid., 49.

19. Ibid., 127.

20. For sake of argument, I will ignore potential constitutional hurdles to this proposal. See Ethan J. Leib, Deliberative Democracy in America: A Proposal for a Popular Branch of Government (University Park, 2004).