The poor serve as innocent shields of the modern, dirigiste state.
These folks’ primary function is not as as a problem to be solved (old-time Progressivism), or votes to be captured (which today’s conservatives believe, mostly erroneously), but as symbols of the putative good intentions of the political classes.
The poor are, almost, badges. Badges of honor.
But too often they serve as innocent shields. The specter of their suffering is routinely held up to deflect any criticism of the routine political control and bureaucratic machinations that intervene in modern social life. And since most folks care more about the poor than do the actual supporters of the “controlling state,” they lay off.
And the confidence game of modern unlimited-government policy goes on.