Won’t Somebody Please Help Frances Fox Piven?

William Tucker
The American Spectator

Big news! Glenn Beck has discovered the 1960s writings of Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, the husband-and-wife team that gave birth to the Welfare Rights Movement and plotted the bankruptcy of the federal government. Cloward died in 2001 but Piven, now 78, is still teaching at the City University of New York Graduate Center and writing manifestos for The Nation.

Cloward and Piven — ah, those names. To me they have always been an abstraction, some mysterious academics closeted away somewhere on the West Side of Manhattan, directing the armies of the poor to the next barricade from their cloistered hideaway. And oh my, were they effective. I wrote a book about crime in the 1980s and a considerable number of articles about the welfare system in the 1990s and Cloward and Piven were all over the place. To me it’s almost startling to find they are real people — just as Piven, who is now receiving death threats for her writings, must be astonished to find there are actually people out there paying attention to what she has to say…

…In 1966 Cloward and Piven had married and moved on to write “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty,” the article in The Nation that 45 years later has captured Glenn Beck’s attention. Cloward and Piven suggested a simple, if cynical, strategy for “ending poverty.” The welfare law — the notorious AFDC (Aid to Financially Dependent Children) — was filled with special allowances for furniture, clothing, and back-to-school expenses that nobody ever claimed. Millions of people were eligible for welfare but never applied. All you had to do, after all, was have a baby out of wedlock. Many states refused to apply these laws while others kept them hidden from applicants. But a full-scale national effort to get everybody signed up for welfare would bankrupt the system, paving the way — in good Marxist fashion — for something much better. The “Cloward-Piven Strategy,” later expanded into Regulating the Poor (1971), became the foundation of the Welfare Rights Movement, which Cloward and Piven founded in 1968 and whose main accomplishment was to get millions of unwed mothers to apply for government assistance, so that the term “single-parent home” not only entered the lexicon but became a national phenomenon.

I have a bit of personal experience in this story…

Read the entire article at The American Spectator. We found this an excellent historic reminder of the 1960s and 70s domestic agenda and strongly recommend it to those who either have forgotten the politics of that time, or who are not old enough to know this chapter of America’s history.

Related: Stanley Ann Dunham and the Left’s Exploitation of Women

…When asked the role of women in the Students for a Democratic Society,  [black activist Stokley] Carmichael replied, “The position of women in the movement is prone.”…

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