Walter Russell Mead on ending the poverty blues:
Part of that social reconstruction will involve steps that have a direct effect on services for the poor. Right now our delivery systems for vital social services like health and education are grotesquely wasteful, primitive and inefficient. (Typically, our technology is good; our organizational structures, professional guild systems, and misaligned incentives are grossly inadequate.) One of the chief secrets to a generation of new economic growth, and also of serving the poor and the needy more effectively, involves cutting costs for basic social goods through successive waves of sweeping change.
As good quality education and health care become more expensive, it becomes harder for society to provide these goods to those who cannot provide them out of their own earnings. The development of a good $10,000 bachelor program would do more for low and lower middle income families than doubling the size of all student loan programs. Generally speaking, anything that makes education cheaper and easier — shifting from a “time served” model to a skills learned model for awarding qualifications and degrees, breaking the guild monopolies through accreditation and other systems so that more institutions can compete in the market — will make society less blue, but make the poor better off.