The Left frequently depicts American misery with Dickensian imagery, but how truthful are such tales? We find some surprising statistics at Human Events, where Patrick Buchanan examines American poverty in “Did ‘The Great Society’ ruin society?” Poverty in America is not about material destitution but spiritual destitution. The American poor have stuff, but they have no dignity. Vice and violence rule unfettered in the projects, while the lower classes are treated like unaccountable children by the state and by the elite. I am not against paternalism in itself, as I note in “A Place for Us.” However, such concerns for the lesser among us must impose moral standards and cultivate spiritual formation in addition to providing material assistance, as R.R. Reno argues in “The Preferential Option for the Poor.” Voluntary charity and endeavors by the local political community are the best means to assist the poor. Such an arrangement minimizes the feeding of government’s ineffective bureaucratic monster that slowly drags all of society toward managerial benevolent but maleficent totalitarianism, and it ensures that strategies and decisions remain in the power of those who know the relevant facts “on the ground.” We want effective giving rather than the enabling and subsidizing of a permanent, dysfunctional, dysgenic parasitic class.