issue in Illinois and many other statesnis the method of electing local governmentnofficials. In a classic ward system,nmembers of a city council arenelected from the neighborhood districtsnthey represent. The smaller thendistrict, the more susceptible thencouncilman is to pressure from constituents.nIn an at-large system, however,nall the voters vote for all thencouncilmen (or commissioners). In ancity like Springfield, where blacksnmake up just a little more than 10npercent of the population, the whitenmajority maintains an effective monopolynon public office.nDefenders of at-large representationnargue that it was never designed tonexclude minority representation. Thisnis not entirely true. In fact, at-largenelections became popular early in thisncentury precisely because they reducednthe power of ethnic leaders and neigh­nThe Decline of a RadicalnMichael Katz is among the mostninteresting and fair-minded radicalnhistorians at work today. His studiesnof public education and welfarenpolicies have gone far in debunkingnthe progressive myths of Americannsocial history. In The Irony of EarlynSchool Reform, Katz demonstratednthat, for Massachusetts at least,npublic schooling was not a responsento working class demands or even anvehicle for social advancement.nSchool reform, in particular, was anpowerful tool for assimilating immigrantsnand controlling the lowernorders.nWhile Katz approaches his subjectsnfrom a position so far out innleft field he has to sit in the bleachers,nhis books—stripped of the rhetoricalnexcesses—are a critical andnlucid introduction to the history ofnsocial policy. It was with highnhopes, therefore, that we took upnhis most recent book. In the Shadownof the Poorhouse: A Social Historynof Welfare in America (New York:nBasic Books, $22.95). The earlynchapters, in large measure, live upnto expectations. Katz painfully tracesnthe attack on outdoor relief.nborhood politicians. Upper- andnmiddle-class civic leaders werenalarmed by the flood of immigrantsnwho did not take even a generation tonlearn how to muscle their way intonurban politics. Cities like Chicago andnMilwaukee, which had small districtsnand large councils, soon found Irish,nItalian, and even black aldermen bargainingnfor a bigger piece of the pie.nThe result was a complex system ofnpatronage and pull that drew each newnwave of immigrants into the politicalnprocess.nIn the name of good governmentnand municipal reform, liberals andnprogressives took steps to reduce theninfluence of ward heelers and ethnicnvoting blocks. More cautious citiesnsimply increased the size of an alderman’sndistrict and drew the lines carefullynto make sure the district did notncoincide with ethnic neighborhoods.nREVISIONSnwhich left the poor in possession ofnfreedom and dignity, and the correspondingnrise of the poorhouse, thenorphanage, and scientific charity.nThe very same issues being debatednin the 1980’s were already beingndisputed in the 1880’s: how to distinguishnthe deserving poor fromnthe simply lazy, how to liberatenchildren from the culture of poverty,nhow to be charitable withoutncreating a dependent class. By andnlarge, the arguments of progressivesnand reformers are now being echoednby conservatives.nEven the family was a hot topicn100 years ago. Outdoor relief servednto keep families together, but manynreformers preferred a system ofnpoorhouse and orphanage that separatednchildren from the bad influencenof poor parents. Eventually,neven the progressives realized thatnmost children were even worse offnin institutions, but that recognitionndid not retard the intrusion of childsaversninto family life.nKatz goes over some ground alreadyntraveled by ChristophernLasch, among others: the professionalizationnof nurture and the risenof centralized urban governmentsnas dispensers of social services. It isnnnThe more radical solution was at-largenelections, which were going to eliminatenall the problems of crooked governmentnand usher in a period ofnuninterrupted honesty and prosperitynfor afl.nNot exactiy. So long as men arenmen, politicians will be politicians. Ancouncilman at large is no more honestnor intelligent than an alderman electednfrom a ward. The only difference isnthat while the alderman typically livesnin his district and has to face, everynday, constituents who want to knownwhat he’s doing about the garbagenpickup or the potholes in Elm Street,nthe at-large councilman or commissionernonly has to please himself and anhandful of colleagues. Given the realitynof urban politics, which type ofndishonest councilman would most ofnus prefer: one who is only out fornhimself and his cronies or one who hasnhere that the radical vision begins tonfalter. Katz, of all people, ought tondeplore the bureaucratic welfarenstate as an elitist monopoly. Instead,nnear the end, he seems to gonsoft and sentimental in order tondefend the practice of welfarenagainst what he imagines are “conservative”ncritics (e.g., CharlesnMurray). In his conclusion, Katz isnas entrenched a New Dealer as, say,nGeorge Will.nThere is, quite frankly, no excusenfor a welfare system that creates anbureaucracy of overpaid busybodiesnwho skim off as much as 750 fromnevery welfare dollar. If people neednour help, by all means let us giventhem the money. We can afford it.nIn the long run, a negative incomentax would be far cheaper than thennightmare of housing projects,nAFDC, and food stamps whichngives so much tyrannical power to anmiddle-class professional elite. IfnProf. Katz will reread his ownnbooks, perhaps he will rekindle thenfire in his belly. But the troublenwith American radicals has alwaysnbeen this tendency to the middleagednfatty degeneration known asnliberalism. (TF)nAPRIL 1987/7n