This is a richly documented, controversial history of the welfare state as seen from a conservative political perspective. The system is generous with money but stingy on human involvement, argues Olasky, a University of Texas journalism professor: compassion means tough love in which those who give must demand self-help from those who receive. But Olasky adds a proviso that the giver too must be personally involved. He holds up the example of 19th-century charity workers, whose religious beliefs made them compassionate and willing to deal intimately with the poor, rather than dispensing money to them through government agencies. There’s plenty of social history here–from Horace Greeley, soup kitchens and orphan asylums to today’s homeless impasse. Olasky does not blame the system for poverty. He faults the poor, along with social workers back to Jane Addams and the founders of the settlement house movement.
Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of the World News Group, holder of the Distinguished Chair in Journalism and Public Policy at […] More about Marvin Olasky.