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Poverty is more than a lack of money; would that it were so, and the government could simply write checks and lift the poor from their misery. As today’s author-lecturers reveal in their disparate ways, the condition called poverty is rooted in powerlessness. Often, the check-writing authorities worsen the problem, demanding control over medical care, employment, even the circumstances of one’s upbringing, in the case of the foster children who are the subject of Susan Sheehan‘s Life for Me Ain’t Been No Crystal Stair. Not to mention welfare, which Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward rightly label a means of Regulating the Poor. Though Jonathan Freedman‘s From Cradle to Grave: The Human Face of Poverty in America bears the defects you’d expect from an editorial writer, he usefully profiles dozens of small, innovative, entrepreneurial programs helping inner-city blacks, the rural poor, and the newly impoverished. Their discussion should be well worth a double lunch hour. At 1:30 p.m. at the National Archives, Rm. 105, 7th & Pennsylvania Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 501-5402. (Bill Gifford)