The Broken Bargain With College Graduates

In his recent commencement address at Rutgers University, President Obama focused on the noneconomic reasons for going to college. The skills gained in college, he said, are tools to help “make the right choices — away from fear and division and paralysis, and toward cooperation and innovation and hope.” It was an important reminder, well […]

Why the Very Poor Have Become Poorer

According to the Census Bureau, the percentage of Americans living in poverty is higher today than it was in the late 1960s. Last year I argued in these pages that these “official” poverty statistics are extremely misleading.1 When the United States first explicitly defined an official poverty line in 1969, it was supposed to be […]

The Myth of Welfare’s Corrupting Influence on the Poor

Does welfare corrupt the poor? Few ideas are so deeply ingrained in the American popular imagination as the belief that government aid for poor people will just encourage bad behavior. The proposition is particularly cherished on the conservative end of the spectrum, articulated with verve by Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute, who blamed […]

The Republican Party’s Strategy to Ignore Poverty

Arizona, where I was born, in July became the first state to cut poor families’ access to welfare assistance to a maximum of 12 months over a lifetime. That’s a fifth of the time allowed under federal law, and means that 5,000 more people will lose their benefits by next June. This is only the […]