Cloward-Piven Everywhere


The Obama administration-driven calamity at this nation's southern border is no naiveté-caused accident. Instead, it's the latest manifestation of what clear-eyed observers must recognize is just one of many concerted attempts to overwhelm this nation's institutions and its social, psychological and physical infrastructure for the apparent purpose of leaving it permanently weakened and fundamentally changed.

Conscious or not — and I would argue in most cases that it is quite conscious — what we're seeing is a comprehensive application of the left's long-championed Cloward-Piven strategy.

The folklore behind the strategy claims that its enunciation by Richard A. Cloward and Frances Fox Piven "only" involved collapsing the welfare system to create a political climate receptive to the idea of a "guaranteed annual income," and — presto! — "an end to poverty."

The idea advanced in the couple's May 1966 column in The Nation was to have those whom they saw as naively self-reliant recognize that they were legally entitled to receive benefits and to have them apply for public assistance en masse. This would "produce bureaucratic disruption in welfare agencies and fiscal disruption in local and state governments," thus requiring a federal solution which would, in their fevered minds, "eliminate poverty by the outright redistribution of income."

The folklore also contends that the strategy didn't work. That's not really true. It really did collapse the system in one city, and it permanently changed national attitudes towards public assistance. As James Simpson observed at American Thinker in September 2008 (still-working links are in the original):

Capitalizing on the racial unrest of the 1960s, Cloward and Piven saw the welfare system as their first target.

... According to a City Journal article by Sol Stern, welfare rolls increased from 4.3 million to 10.8 million by the mid-1970s as a result, and in New York City, where the strategy had been particularly successful, "one person was on the welfare rolls ... for every two working in the city's private economy."

... The vast expansion of welfare in New York City that came of ... Cloward-Piven tactics sent the city into bankruptcy in 1975. Rudy Giuliani cited Cloward and Piven by name as being responsible for "an effort at economic sabotage." He also credited Cloward-Piven with changing the cultural attitude toward welfare from that of a temporary expedient to a lifetime entitlement, an attitude which in-and-of-itself has caused perhaps the greatest damage of all.

That damage includes welfare-driven family breakups and sky-high out-of-wedlock birth rates.