pensions were still likely to appear if there was vigorous enforcement of compulsory school attendance laws.
The story of how child labor laws preceded and forced the introduction of child welfare programs seems somewhat harsh and inhumane to modern eyes. Yet it is a story which provides a realistic vision of social change. As Owen Lovejoy explained, "We are a great people for correcting big abuses, but we have no interest at all in keeping the abuse from arriving. We do not pass good fire laws till the whole town is swept away."57
In the end, the explanation offered above does not square well with the usual class conflict approach, since the interests of the poor lie in preserving their traditional right to benefit from their children's labor. Nor does it mesh with the apolitical aspects of the evolutionary school: First, the abolition of child labor is clearly a matter of politics, since its abolition requires the political defeat of interests that have a stake in child labor; and, second, the creation of an administrative capacity to enforce child labor and compulsory school attendance is also clearly a matter of politics. I propose a genuinely political interpretation of the rise of child welfare programs, but one that ironically puts the middle class, and not the impoverished, on the cutting edge of reform.