THE MORE THINGS CHANGE. Eugene at Volokh Conspiracy recommends Jonathan Rauch's Forget Haves And Have-Nots. Think Do's And Do-Nots, a roundup of recent research on poverty. Rauch quotes Brookings's Isabel Sawhill: "If people did a few things -- graduated from high school, got a job, and delayed having a baby until they married -- our analysis shows that would eliminate a huge chunk of poverty in this country, and that would be far more effective than anything we could feasibly do through the welfare system alone." That's consistent with what we understood thirty years ago. What is encouraging is that sociological research comes up with similar findings.
Or, in bumper sticker language: It Takes a Village. If the Village has all the redeeming features of a hippie commune combined with the Projects, good luck.