Renewing American Compassion by Marvin Olasky
In a now-classic essay that appeared in these pages a quarter-century ago, Nathan Glazer observed that there were but two distinctive approaches to social policy: the liberal and the radical.1 In the liberal view, government was an engine for ameliorating social problems; in the radical view, nothing could be accomplished unless and until society itself were completely transformed. As for conservatives, they, said Glazer, essentially shared the liberal view, though they were inclined to be more cautious in deploying government power.
Today a curious realignment appears to be under way. A generation of conservative scholarship has discredited and undermined faith in the efficacy of most government social programs. Meanwhile, a varied group of public figures, writers, clergymen, academics, and denizens of think-tanks has developed its own version of conservative social policy, one that, ironically, calls for nothing less than a radical change in how Americans should think about and behave toward the poor.
About the Author
Leslie Lenkowsky is professor of public affairs and philanthropic studies at Indiana University.