Hillsdale College history professor Burt Folsom writes here about the crucial distinction between actually helping the poor and what politicians usually do, which is spending money or enacting laws that are supposed to make it look as if they’re helping the poor. Politicians have long known that it is appearances that matter in winning elections, so they often back laws and policies that look kindly and compassionate to superficial observers, even they will be prove to be detrimental in the long run. Elections, after all, are short run things.