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Beyond sticks and carrots

Why are policy makers arguing about controversial and painful social security reforms when we could achieve many of our goals by privatising welfare provision

By Evan Davis   December 1997

Once it was beer that made Milwaukee famous. But in the last few years, welfare reform has put the city-and its state of Wisconsin-on the world map. Nowhere has such an ambitious attempt been made to reduce the welfare case-load; nowhere have there been so many visits by policy makers armed with clipboards and laptops, keen to catalogue the results.

Yet so far the most revealing result of the “Wisconsin Works” scheme has been the diversity of interpretations of the evidence. To some observers, the state has simply saved money by pushing vulnerable people into useless jobs or into philanthropically…

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