America declared “war on poverty” twenty-five years ago, yet in most inner-city neighborhoods conditions are worse now than they were then. In the years since Michael Harrington opened an innocent nation’s eyes to the sorry reality of “the other America,” hundreds of thousands of babies have died of remediable maladies, and millions more have had their growth stunted by lead poisoning, malnutrition, and easily preventable childhood diseases.
The cities are filled with children growing up in families with no working parents, no prospects of a better life, no hope. Many turn to lives of crime, filling our jails to overflowing. The crimes of poor young people have poisoned the political atmosphere, killing the good will of society’s more fortunate, and giving sustenance to the ugly racism that has always afflicted the white majority. For a generation, the American people have blamed liberals for the persistence of poverty and the prevalence of crime in the streets. Every mugging, rape, and drug deal blights liberal prospects and provides ammunition for conservatives....
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