The question is posed: Can the United States go on as it has been with a good portion of its working class almost entirely isolated from the promise of our country?
It is a yes or no question. A “yes” involves the acceptance of a rigid, self-perpetuating class system in a country with democratic and egalitarian pretentions ”” a system upheld and enforced by heavy-handed policing, routine incarceration and social and educational segregation.
A “no” is just the start of a very difficult task. The mixed legacy of the Great Society ”” helping the elderly get health care, it turns out, is easier than creating opportunity in economically and socially decimated communities ”” has left the national dialogue on poverty ideologically polarized. And many policy proposals in this field seem puny in comparison to the Everest of need.
But there is one set of related policy ideas that would dramatically help the poor and should not be ideologically divisive. How about a renewed effort to help the poor by refusing to cheat them?