Moving Beyond Dialogue to
Negotiation and Action
WHILE PREPARING THIS BOOK, WE BOTH GAVE TALKS TO LOTS of people. Diane spoke to national and local groups of students and activists: white, Latino and black. Among others, she spoke on platforms with Noam Chomsky, Frances Fox Piven, and Stanley Aronowitz. She debated Lawrence Mead at Columbia University and spoke to Welfare Rights Union members all over the country. Ann gave talks to social work schools, poverty program staff, and women's groups, even to progressive business groups in several states. Together, we spoke to unions, to groups of high school and college students, to churches. We have been on television, radio talk and call-in shows. Even though we spoke most often to generally friendly audiences, there were often people in the crowds who still wanted "to do something about welfare," who argued that we "couldn't keep supporting bad 'choices.'" And, of course, all year we were reading the contributions of our authors, as well as other writing about poverty, welfare, and what was happening politically in the county.
It was also the year the Republican Congress took control and welfare reform became a national issue as well as one where state after state, including our own, competed to create "the most restrictive welfare reform plan in the country." There was tremendous attention to welfare. Many liberal groups began to think that there was more to talk about than the old false promises to replace welfare with jobs -- as long as some childcare and health benefits were included.