Julian Wolpert

Robert Wuthnow teaches sociology at Princeton University and is the author of several books, including After Heaven: Spirituality in America since the 1950s.

Recent Articles

Delusions of Charity

Conservatives say that if we reduce government spending on the poor, charity will fill the gap. The evidence shows they're wrong.

WORKS DISCUSSED IN THIS ESSAY Marvin Olasky, The Tragedy of American Compassion (Regnery Publishing, 1992). Lester M. Salamon, Partners in Public Service: Government-Nonprofit Relations in the Modern Welfare State (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995). T here is such a thing as reforming welfare, and there is such a thing as cutting spending on welfare. It is fortunate, hold the Republicans who control Congress, that the two are synonymous. The politically appealing belief that cutting welfare will improve life for the poor rests upon two long-held conservative propositions: that most of the welfare poor are jobless because they would rather eat and not work than eat and work; and that, if welfare is scaled back or eliminated, private charity will fill in at least as well as government. One might notice a certain contradiction here. If the problem is that we give our poor so much that it destroys any incentive to find work, then having private charities sign the check instead of...