When it comes to conversations about government spending, two subjects tend to get conflated. The first is an ideological debate about whether or not the government is in general any good at doing things. The second regards the actual effectiveness of specific things the government does. And the second conversation is far more concrete, productive, and important, which is why it drives me crazy when the first one prevents people from engaging the second.
Ron Haskins's new book is pretty wonky, but the articles he's written to promote it are quite readable.
Ordinarily, when Paul Ryan puts something out about poverty and social spending, the response is predictable and polarized. The senior House Republican and 2012 vice presidential nominee likes Ayn Rand and small government and racially coded criticism. We know what box to put him in.
It is true, as a Century editorial recently argued, that poverty did not get the attention it deserved in the presidential campaign. Even more frustrating are the comments often made about poverty and social program when they do come up. Let’s look at three common distortions.
James Bailey has written a superb, creative and timely book whose
primary audience should be the U.S. Congress. Unfortunately, the
current members of Congress do not seem to possess the intellectual
wattage necessary to profit from it.