At Public Discourse, Ryan T. Anderson reviews Lawrence Mead’s From Prophecy to Charity: How to Help the Poor:
The loudest voices in our national debates about political economy tend to be libertarians and social welfare statists. To our detriment, most public policy discussions are filtered through these two lenses. At the same time, we tend to conflate the policy issues facing our nation as if they were one and the same.
But consider the range of America’s political-economic challenges: How to balance our budget; how to reform the major entitlements of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; how to get the economy growing again; how to increase employment; how to increase social mobility; how to help the poor.
Though related, these issues are profitably examined one at a time. Poverty, for example, is undoubtedly linked to our debates about government regulation, taxes, and budgets. It is certainly tied to our debates about income inequality, social mobility, and unemployment. But poverty in America is not primarily about any of these issues. And political commentators of all stripes perform a major disservice when they mesh them together.