Social Solutions to Poverty:
America's Struggle to Build a Just Society
A book by Scott Myers-Lipton


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Faith-Based Initiatives




In counterpoint to Children Defense Fund’s liberal agenda, President George W. Bush initiated his agenda of “compassionate conservatism” after his election victory in 2000. At the core of this agenda is Bush’s faith-based program, which in many ways is a return to the moral language of the early nineteenth century. Social problems are generally seen as individual “problems of the heart” and faith in God is a major part of the solution. Compassionate conservatism also harkens back to the late nineteenth century when private philanthropy at the local level was seen as the most effective approach to poverty. Stating that “traditional social programs are often too bureaucratic, inflexible, and impersonal to meet the acute and complex needs of the poor,” Bush has called for a partnership between the federal government and faith-based organizations to solve poverty at the community level. Bush highlights his $300 million pilot program to promote “healthy marriages” as a way to deal with the rise in divorce rate and the feminization of poverty. The Bush administration proposes to offer welfare recipients premarital counseling for non-married couples and skills training for married couples. Bush argues that if a couple is married, the chances of the family living in poverty will be reduced.

Myers-Lipton, p. 268-269

(Excerpted from “Social Solutions to Poverty” © Paradigm Publishers 2006)





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