Michele Landis Dauber

Michele Landis Dauber is a professor of law and (by courtesy) sociology at Stanford University.

Recent Articles

Poverty Requires Disaster Relief

“I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” Ronald Reagan’s famous “nine most terrifying words in the English language” continue to serve as fodder for conservatives and to infuriate progressives. Reagan’s mocking line kicked off a wave of anti-state backlash that conservatives continue to ride, and any long-range plan for rehabilitating the progressive agenda has to contend with the stigma that surrounds government aid. But Reagan wasn’t announcing cuts in federal aid—quite the opposite. He was inoculating himself against criticism from conservatives for doling it out. Reagan was about to ask for a huge package of drought relief to farmers, including price-support loans for the entire season’s grain crop, which he said was essential for a “compassionate and responsible” government. Americans accept the legitimacy and necessity of disaster aid and will punish politicians who don’t get it right. George W. Bush’s post-Katrina failure crippled him politically, even though the...