I just read this fascinating NYT article. Brazil (and about 40 other nations pay the poorest of the poor) Its working. Its keeping corruption down. The cycle of poverty is breaking.
From the article:
For skeptics who believe that social programs never work in poor countries and that most of what’s spent on them gets stolen, conditional cash transfer programs offer a convincing rebuttal. Here are programs that help the people who most need help, and do so with very little waste, corruption or political interference. Even tiny, one-village programs that succeed this well are cause for celebration. To do this on the scale that Mexico and Brazil have achieved is astounding.
Reading this put me in mind of Richard Nixon who once proposed a negative income tax whereby the poorest people would get money back from the Government. Not quite the same thing but similar.
US politics today (Read the GOP) is too beholden to the businesses (payday loans etc.) which leach money from the poor and desperate. We’re trying to undo the damage with the incredibly wrong headed No Child Left Behind.