Monday, December 9, 2013

President Obama's Speech on Economic Mobility

President Obama's December 6 speech on the state of economic mobility in America highlighted major themes in the history of social welfare. Consider how these policies affected the social and economic well-being of generations of Americans. In Obama's speech, social workers were at the forefront in investigating social problems and implementing these major social policies. Yet, these safety nets are slowly being dismantled by powerful forces that want society to return to serfdom (servitude). We cannot continue to live in denial -- economic mobility is a serious problem in America. Here is an excerpt of his speech:

It was Abraham Lincoln, a self-described “poor man’s son,” who started a system of land grant colleges all over this country so that any poor man’s son could go learn something new.

When farms gave way to factories, a rich man’s son named Teddy Roosevelt fought for an eight-hour workday, protections for workers, and busted monopolies that kept prices high and wages low.

When millions lived in poverty, FDR fought for Social Security, and insurance for the unemployed, and a minimum wage.

When millions died without health insurance, LBJ fought for Medicare and Medicaid.

Together, we forged a New Deal, declared a War on Poverty in a great society. We built a ladder of opportunity to climb, and stretched out a safety net beneath so that if we fell, it wouldn’t be too far, and we could bounce back. And as a result, America built the largest middle class the world has ever known. And for the three decades after World War II, it was the engine of our prosperity.

Now, we can’t look at the past through rose-colored glasses. The economy didn’t always work for everyone. Racial discrimination locked millions out of poverty -- or out of opportunity. Women were too often confined to a handful of often poorly paid professions. And it was only through painstaking struggle that more women, and minorities, and Americans with disabilities began to win the right to more fairly and fully participate in the economy.

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