Who do America's wars against poverty turn out to be wars against the poor? Why does a nation so committed to fighting crime show such a bad record of combating it and so morbid a fascination with it? Why is American racism so deeply rooted? This study aims to answer these and other questions. Its central thesis is that the national faith in individual initiative and free opportunity has become a breeding ground for guilt about our own limited successes and prejudice against all who exhibit signs of failure.