By the Reagan era, the 'culture of poverty' had become a cornerstone of conservative ideology: poverty was caused not by low wages or a lack of jobs but by bad attitudes and faulty lifestyles. The poor were dissolute, promiscuous, prone to addiction and crime, unable to 'defer gratification' or possibly even set an alarm clock. The last thing they could be trusted with was money.
How can we appraise a proposal if the terms hurled at our ears can mean anything or nothing, and change their significance with the inflection of the voice? Welfare state, national socialism, radical, liberal, conservative, reactionary and a regiment of others ... these terms in today's usage, are generally compounds of confusion and prejudice. If our attitudes are muddled, our language is often to blame. A good tonic for clearer thinking is a dose of precise, legal definition.