A Decade of Federal Antipoverty Programs. Achievements, by Robert H. Haveman

By Robert H. Haveman

Paperback, 392 pages, 6 x 0.9 x nine inches, Written via Robert H. Haveman for the Institute for learn on Poverty Poverty coverage research sequence.

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Extra resources for A Decade of Federal Antipoverty Programs. Achievements, Failures, and Lessons

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Perhaps it is only a coincidence, but in the last ten years academics have become almost blatantly skeptical about how much they know; what sorts of problems they can solve. Anthropology is unmasked as imperialism; social workers are racist oppressors; psychiatrists are petty dictators who know nothing, accomplish nothing, and whose snap judgments produce endless human ruin. Sociology, of course, has long been floundering; and the last surviving group with high prestige, the economists, are rapidly losing their touch.

For almost everyone, and every situation, hard-and-fast rules determine who is eligible and how much a beneficiary can get. The states have little say; but neither does the federal government, except for its power to change benefits and rules through fresh legislation. Social Security is the sort of program that can be basically turned over to computers. Indeed, that is its attraction. The negative income tax would share this quality. " Some programs are completely "federal" (meaning that by law they are out of the jurisdiction of states and municipalities) but are, in fact, highly decentralized.

Bentham, of course, did not discover the idea; rather his school of thought built on it. This was a theory about law. But law here means nothing more than the actions of the state. The instrumental theory of law was an instrumental theory of the state. Medieval governments had no particular programs. The kings and princes were anxious to defend or increase their territories; to nibble away at their neighbors, or to protect themselves against nibbling; nothing more. The very idea of "public policy" has a distinctly modern ring.

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