The Uncertain Hour
The Uncertain Hour
Aug 20, 2021
25 years after welfare reform, let’s revisit “the magic bureaucrat”
Play • 41 min

It’s been 25 years since our country upended its welfare system – and so we’re looking back at our very first episode.

We spent that first season of “The Uncertain Hour” reflecting deeply on what welfare had become. Each of those episodes can still help us understand what’s happened to one of our nation’s oldest safety net programs, on this anniversary of its so-called “reform.”

In this reprise episode, we tell the story of the “Magic Bureaucrat” — the former director of a suburban county welfare office who helped launched the welfare reform movement 25 years ago, with the aid of a self-produced pop album.

Check out the whole first season to learn more — from the story of a woman who exposed the racism built into the welfare system from its early days, to an investigation of some of the very surprising ways states have spent federal welfare funds in the last 25 years. Money has gone to marriage counseling workshops, college scholarships for middle-class families and religious “crisis pregnancy centers” that try to steer women away from abortions.

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