I’ve always been highly skeptical that welfare reform would do much to alter the “culture of poverty” We have plenty of historical examples of masses of poor children with few resources. Rarely did they buckle-down and pull themselves up by their boot straps. More commonly they just died from malnutrition and exposure.

I don’t see any reason to think that human beings have changed in some radical and fundamental way.

At the same time, however, I didn’t think the effort to limit benefits to the poor was serious. It was propped-up by a strong economy, but I assumed the benefits would come back over time and or if economy worsened. The march of history is to expand the dole, not contract it.

Yet, there is some evidence that this is not in fact happening. I haven’t looked at the issue in depth but these charts and the stories that I hear through the policy network are in agreement. The safety net is not offsetting the rise in poverty.