Eduardo Porter
OCTOBER 20, 2015
An Excerpt From

Does welfare corrupt the poor?

Few ideas are so deeply ingrained in the American popular imagination as the belief that government aid for poor people will just encourage bad behavior.

The proposition is particularly cherished on the conservative end of the spectrum, articulated with verve by Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute, who blamed welfare for everything from higher youth unemployment to increases in “illegitimacy.” His views are shared, to a greater or lesser degree, by Republican politicians like the unsuccessful presidential candidate Mitt Romney and <a href="http://topics.nytimes viagra au” onclick=”__gaTracker(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘outbound-article’, ‘’, ‘Paul Ryan’);” title=”More articles about Paul D. Ryan.”>Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

But even Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the father of the New Deal, called welfare “a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.” And it was President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, who put an end to “welfare as we know it.”

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