Charles Murray’s Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980 is a fierce polemic about the failure of Great Society liberalism to improve the lot of America’s poor.
Murray’s argument comes in three parts. In the first part he contends that precisely as the federal government’s cash outlays for the needy increased between 1950 and 1980, a steadily greater number of Americans became impoverished. The same perverse correlation crops up when Murray looks at poverty programs in detail: as Labor Department work and training programs grew, so did unemployment among the poor; as federal money poured into education for the disadvantaged, their test scores declined; as welfare programs burgeoned, so did urban crime, illegitimacy, and the number of families permanently dependent on welfare....
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