I want to take up a point that Steve raised about welfare reform. (You knew I couldn't be to the right of you forever.) In an earlier post, he wrote:
"What we don't really know how to do is to increase, in a durable way that isn't subject to lots of moral hazard problems, the incomes of non-working adults."
But why are we so concerned about the "moral hazards" of raising the incomes of non-working adults? We raise the incomes of seniors without worrying about such questions. Libertarian conservatives point to all sorts of "moral hazards" in raising incomes of working adults. I'd argue that "moral hazards" move front and center to the public debate when the recipient population is disproportionately black and female. In that respect, the push toward welfare reform was strongly influenced by racism and sexism. Numerous studies, (try Martin Gilens's work, for example) show that white Americans look at welfare through the lens of race. Therefore, to the extent that welfare reform "solved" a problem, it was a problem that only existed if you bought into a certain set of stereotypes and prejudices about race and sex.
Interestingly, even Alan Keyes sees this connection (it is my goal to include some mention of Alan Keyes is every post). As I wrote in an earlier post when he proposed eliminating the income tax for African Americans, he was quickly ridiculed by conservatives. But as Keyes pointed out, conservatives have no problem with tax breaks when they go to a "wealthy corporation."