And the Poor Get Welfare: The Ethics of Poverty in the United States

Article excerpt

COPELAND'S BOOK is truly timely. The issue of welfare for the poor is on the front burner in the national debate. Furthermore, the book provides the reader with an excellent overview of how the present situation has emerged and of the views of influential recent theorists. This reader has been astonished by the extent of his own ignorance and is deeply indebted to Copeland for providing the essential information in so readable and lucid a form. For others who, like me, find themselves involved in debates about welfare without sufficient information and understanding, this book is must reading.

The book does not only inform. It also critically evaluates and advocates. The central portion of the book expounds the views of four major writers on welfare-Charles Murray, Lisbeth Schorr, Lawrence Mead, and Frances Fox Piven. It clarifies the basic assumptions about human beings that come to expression in these views, presents a Christian alternative especially regarding the relationship of social determinism and personal responsibility, and shows how elements from each of the four views are affirmed in a new gestalt from this perspective.

Copeland explains that his own position is shaped by process thought. He ex plains the relevant aspects of this tradition simply and personally in a way with which many Christians will agree. …