Former Director of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services Larry Townsend.
Former Director of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services Larry Townsend. - 
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In the summer of 1996, on the lawn of the White House Rose Garden, President Clinton signed a bill that would dramatically transform the country's welfare system.

Twenty years later, what the heck is welfare anyway? And we should make it clear — we're talking about cash assistance to poor families, not food stamps or medicaid.

Welcome to "The Uncertain Hour," the Wealth & Poverty desk's new podcast hosted by Senior Correspondent Krissy Clark. In the first episode, we'll introduce you to the "Magic Bureaucrat" — the former director of a suburban county welfare office. You'll hear about his foray into synthpop music production and how he launched the welfare reform movement.

Because the things we argue most about are often the things we know the least about.

Follow Krissy Clark at @kristianiaclark