Fifteen trillion dollars: That’s how much American taxpayers have forked over in the name of helping the poor since 1964. And what do we have to show for it? A poverty rate that has barely budged, an entrenched bureaucracy, and a population — like that of Greece and Portugal, two welfare-state basket cases — increasingly dependent on government handouts. These are the conclusions of a recent Cato Institute report on the American welfare state by Michael Tanner, Cato’s director of health and welfare studies and author of The Poverty of Welfare: Helping Others in Civil Society. It is hardly an encouraging read, to say the least.