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Word Count: 681
I wish it were true that trillions of dollars have been spent on the War on Poverty Indeed I would settle for a small fraction of the trillions of dollars we spent on the military in the 1980s In fact the money we spend per-capita on programs for the poor in America is trivial in comparison with per-capita expenditures for the poor in western Europe As I pointed out in When Work Disappears the most rapid growth in expenditures for US welfare programs has been in universal entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare--programs whose elderly recipients tend to be members of the working and middle classes In western European countries where services such as medical care are considered basic collective goods the poor tend to be covered by the same comprehensive programs as the working and middle classes In the United States programs for the poor such as Food Stamps Medicaid and the Supplemental Security Income program SSI do provide some relief but as currently designed they have virtually no effect on the continuing poverty rate among the non-elderly In short targeted programs for the poor in the United States do not even begin to address inequities in the social class system Instead of helping to integrate the recipients into the broader economic and social life of mainstream society--to capitalize them into a different educational or residential stratum as the GI bill and the postwar federal mortgage programs did for working- and middle-class whites--they tend to stigmatize and separate them I am particularly concerned about the education of the poor in large urban cities What measures do you think need to be taken to change the quality of education within urban areas What or whom do you feel is to blame for the bad shape that schools are in today As I argued in When Work Disappears a commitment to a system of national performance standards for every public school in the United States
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