JFK was no fool. He knew all about close elections and the importance of (somehow) lining up votes. In 1962, he issued an executive order that paved the way for the emergence of public sector unions. This has paid off spectacularly for Democratic Party candidates ever since. Trouble is that (see Francis Fukuyama cited in a previous post) it harmed the quality of public administration in the U.S.
Failed public policies (of which there are now many) are forever "underfunded." Political candidates feast on the "need" for more funding. More funding usually happens and the programs still underperform. This can go on for long while. Most voters pay little attention to deficits and unfunded liabilities.
This year's big political issue is inequality. The 50+ year War on Poverty has not done the job and is surely underfunded.
But there is another possibility. Some people remain poor because they make poor lifetsyle choices. Pointing this out brings on the "blaming the victim" chorus -- and undermines the "need for more funding" refrain.
Christine Rosen's "Lifestyles of the Not-Rich and Unequal" makes the point. "Liberal handwringing about inequality obscures an endemic cultural NIMBYism. A racially diverse but economically homogeneous private school for little Jasper is heaven -- but a playdate with a kid whose parents didn't go to college and might own a gun? Awkward." Read the whole thing. Not only do we have the inequality thing wrong but the same for the diversity thing. Narratives!
What to do? You may want to dust off Charles Murray's Coming Apart.
Wendell Cox thinks that Washington DC's Metro is not in trouble because it has been underfunded.