More Big Good News: The left has complained for years when welfare-reform enthusiasts measure success by the sharp (more than 50%) reduction in caseloads since the mid-1990s. I agree--lower caseloads ares good but they're not everything. Yet the left's proposed measure of success, income and poverty, is equally flawed. If all the 1996 welfare reform did was take non-working single mothers on welfare and turn them into working single-mothers with exactly the same incomes, it would be a huge success.
Isn't the real test whether life is getting better in America's "underclass" ghettos? Now there is powerful statistical evidence that this is in fact happening. Concentrated poverty (a bad thing, and one of the defining characteristics of the "underclass" as described by sociologist William Julius Wilson) has dropped dramatically in the U.S.--by almost a quarter--after doubling from 1970 to 1990. Robert Pear, citing researcher Paul Jargowsky, reports:
"Concentrated poverty — the share of the poor living in high-poverty neighborhoods — declined among all racial and ethnic groups, especially African-Americans," Mr. Jargowsky said.
In 1990, 30 percent of poor blacks lived in high-poverty neighborhoods. Ten years later, the proportion was 19 percent.
Pear rightly credits welfare reform, in part, with this success. The reasons seem obvious: welfare reform produced a dramatic jump in the participation of single mothers in the labor force. When you work, you not only get richer--you also tend to get out of your neighborhood and discover the rest of your city. Working also breaks down stereotypes of lower income, single mothers--especially African-American single mothers-that may underlie resistance in non-poor areas to having such people as neighbors. Not to mention the gauzier benefits of working, like "role-modeling" and the effect of the disciplined rhythm of work on home life and school performance. ... More: Here's the Minneapolis Star-Tribune report on "a development that normally sober social scientists are calling 'astonishing,' even 'stunning" .... Here's the Brookings Institution event (which starts in a few hours) that will discuss Jargowsky's findings. ... Bonus Raines angle: Hey, didn't Howell Raines' NYT editorial page adamantly oppose the successful 1996 welfare reform? It did! Raines' page called the reform "atrocious," denounced President Clinton for signing it, and predicted "the effect on some cities will be devastating"! ... Raines experts say the NYT executive editor's self-righteous, egomaniacal G.S.W.B. moralism made him as un-blindered in evaluating welfare policy as he was in evaluating Jayson Blair! ... 1:59 A.M.
Newsweek-skipper: I didn't know Jayson Blair had resigned from the Univeristy of Maryland college paper he ran, "for 'personal reasons,'" (according to Newsweek). I'd thought the college paper had been his big credential. More evidence of due diligence, diversity-style. ... Allan Sloan says it would take 6 of 8 Sulzberger family trustees to ditch Pinch. Seems like a longshot. ... Jonathan Alter defends Sulzberger's paper- "When The New York Times loses power, the U.S. government gains it."--as if the Times were synonymous with "the press." What's the Washington Post, chopped liver? ... Ellis Cose makes clear the dynamic the LAT's Tim Rutten also identified: It's either "blame affirmative action" or "blame the editors"-- which means that defensive affirmative-action supporters on the left are among those coming down hardest on Raines & Co.. After all he's done for them! ... 1:25 A.M.
Sunday, May 19, 2003
David Warsh, who (as he notes) lost his Boston Globe gig when NYT publisher Pinch Sulzberger sacked his boss, helps move the post-Blair debate away from "blame Raines" to "blame Pinch." ... It turns out Pinch was not a shoo-in for the publisher's job, according to Warsh -- there were various shareholding cousins to satisfy, and other candidates for the position. The Globe's's publisher had been a potential internal rival, Warsh argues ... But having told us that Pinch was vulnerable once, Warsh doesn't answer the much-more-relevant question of whether Pinch could be deposed now if the Times board gets worried. ... Warsh does contribute a good graf on the younger Sulzberger's susceptibility to managerial BS:
All of which must be disappointing to a man who rode into the Times on his enthusiasm for "Total Quality Management." In fact, Sulzberger has displayed throughout his career a softspot for management fads, "mission statements," "leadership moments" and the like. In recent years a favorite gimmick around the Times has been to speak of "the moose in the room" — a reference to a cautionary business fable about out-of-bounds problems in which a moose is invited to dinner and no guest is willing to ask why.
Cautionary note to Warsh: I don't think there was a "mounted head of a moose" on the stage of the movie theater where the Pinch/Howell/Gerald troika held their recent mass venting session. My sources, plus the Daily News, say Pinch had a stuffed toy moose in a plastic bag and dumped it on Raines' lap (which might be kind of symbolic, if you think about it)... 12:59 P.M.
Saturday, May 17, 2003