Do zoning ordinances limit inner city prosperity? Where will political support for increased federal spending for the poor come from? How much money spend on the "War on Poverty" was wasted? Why is inner city education so poor? How would inner city work programs be implemented? Will this summer's welfare reforms help or hurt the inner city? Is a "race war" on the horizon? How can inner cities be reconnected to the rest of Amercian society? Viewer comments Byron Brown of Ashland, OR, asks:
The programs that you advocate are clearly in the long-run interest of all classes in America, rich, middle class, and poor. Their implementation is, however, usually blocked by the representatives of the rich as well as the middle class. How can the tendency to favor short-run reductions in government spending over the obvious long-run benefits to all members of society be overcome?
Dr. Wilson responds:
This question brings up two important issues -- how do we involve all of society in finding ways to overcome the devastating consequences of poverty and how do we introduce long-term programs in a political atmosphere that is focused on the short-term? In "When Work Disappears," I stress the consequences and implications of urban poverty for all of the nation's social classes and residents, regardless of whether they are urban or suburban dwellers.
How to foster long term solutions is a challenging question that I often get on the lecture tour and I have never come up with a satisfactory answer. I think that the problem will not be overcome until we organize the kinds of comprehensive programs that I recommend in "When Work Disappears." These programs should be developed around a theme (or themes) that resonates with or captures the imagination of broad segments of the society. I am thinking of a compelling theme, such as "save our children's future," whereby citizens can clearly recognize the long-term consequences of inaction. Once such themes are introduced, strategies must be developed, including the integration of local efforts by various kinds of community organizations and institutions, to keep the issues highly visible over long periods of time.