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Has the Welfare State Died before Birth? US Healthcare and Pensions

  • UCLA Haines Hall 279 Los Angeles, CA USA (map)

The assault on the welfare state has defined the last forty years of US public policy, with health care and pensions among the highest value targets. Although the American citizenry identifies the availability and affordability of health care as its top priority, the private coverage at the heart of the system repeatedly returns the worst health outcomes at the highest cost in the advanced capitalist world, even with Obamacare reforms in place. Pensions are under threat across the board, sold off to Wall Street speculators like any other financial product, and Social Security could be next in line for privatization. Our speakers will lay bare the reasons for the underdeveloped state and rapid erosion of public provision in the US, exploring the best available alternatives—including single payer and single provider health care, defined benefit pensions, and forms of guaranteed annual income—and the most promising political strategies to bring them into being.

Adam Gaffney  Instructor at Harvard Medical School and author of numerous articles on healthcare and public policy. He blogs at

Mike McCarthy  Professor of Sociology, Marquette University and author of Dismantling Solidarity: Capitalist Politics and American Pensions since the New Deal.