As the contributions to this special issue of ]SSW attest, much can be said about the nature of social welfare policies and programs over the past quarter century. Some changes are allegedly beneficial, some not, in regard to the welfare of the nation in general and to economically needy people in particular. The welfare program in the form of cash assistance primarily to lowincome mothers and their children as we had understood and implemented it since 1935 ended. Work effort became the sine qua non of cash assistance for all low-income families. Further, the very notion of the welfare state in general was subjected to a sustained ideological onslaught. Alternatives such as partially privatizing the welfare state's bedrock program, Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) still commonly referred to as Social Security, were advanced by Democratic and Republican administrations alike. Privatization of Social Security, in part or in whole, may be a non-starter as G. W. Bush enters his last presidential year (Caputo, in press), but as contributions to this special issue suggest, reliance on market forces as the final arbiter of many social problems may have firmly eclipsed that of the Federal Government.

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