The United States has the highest poverty rate of any industrialized country and the stingiest and meanest welfare system. The welfare system undergoing change, besides being clearly inadequate to its task, has long been a form of punishment, degrading to its recipients—intentionally so—although such intentions, covered over by habituation, are not seen as such. The demonization of the poor and the caricaturization of Aid to Families with Dependent Children were essential to the “success” of the welfare bill of 1996. Among the rich societies, ours has by far the highest rate of children living in poverty—four times the rates in Western Europe—and it is the children’s rate that rises most rapidly, condemning them to an inhuman life and unnecessary deprivation. The always too limited regulation of that business is in the process of becoming slighter in the same period in which the movement for privatization of Social Security has gained momentum.