Values and Public Policy

By Henry J. Aaron; Thomas E. Mann et al. | Go to book overview

The federal government is a powerful but clumsy giant, not very adept at identifying, evaluating, and encouraging individuals who need help. It is good at passing laws, transferring funds, and multiplying regulations. These are necessary functions, but out of place in the realm of personal redemption. A government program to foster personal redemption will come equipped with standardized budgets, buy-America rules, minority set-asides, quarterly reporting requirements, and environmental impact statements and, in all likelihood, a thinly disguised bias against any kind of involvement with churches.

There may be a better way: public funds sent to private foundations that in turn do the identifying, evaluating, and encouraging, all on the basis of carefully negotiated charters that free these intermediaries from most governmental constraints. I have no example to cite, but people who wish to think seriously about changing the culture of poverty had better start inventing one.


Notes
1.
Evidence for these beliefs can be found in chapter and in the poll data reported in "Public Opinion and the Demographic Report," American Enterprise, vol. 3 ( September-October 1992), pp. 85-86.
2.
James Q. Wilson, Thinking About Crime ( Basic Books, 1975), chap. 3.
4.
The rise in the probability of imprisonment is measured in Patrick A. Langan, "America's Soaring Prison Population," Science, March 1991, p. 1572. The increase in the incidence of crime among young male cohorts is established in Paul E. Tracy, Marvin E. Wolfgang, and Robert M. Figlio, Delinquency Careers in Two Birth Cohorts ( Plenum, 1990), p. 276.
5.
Irwin Garfinkel and Sara S. McLanahan, Single Mothers and Their Children: A New American Dilemma ( Washington: Urban Institute Press, 1986). See also William A. Galston, "Causes of Declining Well-Being among U.S. Children: Data and Debates," Aspen Institute Quarterly, vol. 5 no. 1 ( 1993), pp. 52-77.
6.
Robert Moffitt, "An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma," American Economic Review, vol. 73 ( December 1983), pp. 1023-35; Robert Moffitt, "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, vol. 30 ( March 1992), pp. 1-61; and Robert Moffitt, "The Effect of the U.S. Welfare System on Marital Status," Journal of Public Economics, vol. 41 ( February 1990), pp. 101-24.

-75-

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Values and Public Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Contents xi
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • Note 15
  • 2: How Changes in the Economy Are Reshaping American Values 16
  • Overview 17
  • Conclusion 50
  • Notes 51
  • 3: Culture, Incentives, and the Underclass 54
  • Notes 75
  • 4: The Family Condition of America Cultural Change and Public Policy 81
  • Notes 106
  • 5: Multiculturalism and Public Policy 113
  • Notes 144
  • 6: Public Spirit in Political Systems 146
  • Notes 165
  • 7: Gang Behavior, Law Enforcement, and Community Values 173
  • Appendix 196
  • Appendix 205
  • Index 211
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