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The Deep Roots Linking Help and Punishment

Throughout America's history, the deep-seated idea that poverty is fundamentally a moral failing on the part of the poor has shaped social welfare policies and practices. If they could run their lives properly, the logic goes, they would not be poor in the first place. Accordingly, poor and non-white folks cannot be trusted to care for their children, and thus need to be coerced, through the threat of punishment, into forms of supposedly “therapeutic” state interventions.