Something named David French, an avid repeater of all things wing-nutty, does his part at The Corner. Mr. French is the butler of a wealthy man suddenly tasked with raising three orphaned children. Oh, wait. That Mr. French actually did something of value. Our Mr. French is a lobbyist for The American Center For Law and Justice, Pat Robertson's Christian Sharia legal warriors. This man of God has a little message for those who might side with the poor.
The Sources of Poverty
August 24, 2011 12:27 P.M. By David French
Kathryn, thanks for linking to Rubio’s excellent speech. I completely agree with both of the Rubio quotes you highlighted. The free-enterprise system has lifted more people out of poverty than any government program, and yes, our “social problems create our poverty.” But there’s a tension inherent in these two points. It’s not precisely true that the free-enterprise system itself has lifted people out of poverty; it’s more true that the free-enterprise system has created opportunities that allow hard-working (or even moderately hard-working) individuals to succeed. But if you destroy the people’s industry and virtue, then all the economic liberty in the world won’t save them.
It is simply a fact that our social problems are increasingly connected to the depravity of the poor.
I thought the poor were closer to Christ? "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." I guess not.
If an American works hard, completes their education, gets married, and stays married, then they will rarely — very rarely — be poor.
As long as nothing goes wrong before, during, or after your birth, you'll never be poor in the good ole USA. And there will always be a job available...somewhere.
At the same time, poverty is the handmaiden of illegitimacy, divorce, ignorance, and addiction. As we have poured money into welfare, we’ve done nothing to address the behaviors that lead to poverty while doing all we can to make that poverty more comfortable and sustainable.
Poverty is caused by moral failure. Therefore people who are not poor are moral, rich girls don't get knocked up, and professionals don't divorce and have addictions. Blame children for their parents' inability to take care of them. After all, the poor live in comfort, don't they?
Earlier this week, Walter Russell Mead highlighted disturbing research showing that the poor — far more than the rich — are disconnected from church and religion. While church attendance is dropping among all social classes, it’s falling off a cliff for the poorest and least-educated Americans. In other words, the deeper a person slides into poverty, the more they’re disconnected from the very values that can save them and their families.
For a second there I thought he was going to talk about churches that assist their poor parishioners. I should have known better; French will not praise Christian charity when he can call them immoral instead.
The bottom line is that we need more free enterprise, and we need more virtue. Sadly, the Great Society and the sexual revolution have deprived us of both.
Ten points off Slytherin for not mentioning Obama or socialism.
If you want the same message tailored for the high rent district, skip on over to Megan McArdle's little libertarian paradise on the Potomac. She devotes two posts to praising the dismantling of the welfare system as a somewhat qualified success. True, we still have an alarmingly increasing number of poor people, McArdle allows, but many fewer of them are receiving assistance, so one must take the good with the bad.
But I think that progressives ignore the possibility (indeed, what I take to be the near-certainty) that this is an inevitable tradeoff. If we provide benefits sufficiently generous to support people who are too screwed up to provide themselves with a very minimal living standard, we will also encourage people who aren't that screwed up to stay home rather than going to their tedious, low wage job. (Especially young people, who are not known for their patience or foresight). Despite a broader trend of more people having babies without first getting married, the rate of childbirth among unmarried mothers between the ages of 15-19--those whose children who are most at risk of poor life outcomes--declines noticeably post 1995. Though of course correlation is not causation, this at least suggests that welfare reform may have helped both mothers and children by encouraging young women to make better long-term choices about when to have babies.
Obviously, we'd really like to see those birth rates in the 15-17 group fall to zero, and steeper declines in the 18-19 age group. But even a modest decrease is good news. And it shows up in the child poverty figures, which was even more dramatic than the poverty rate in the 18-64 age group.
Since welfare dependency was a cycle, this will have lasting effects: all the women who delayed childbearing until they had some work experience and financial stability are more likely to have healthy kids who themselves are better able to cope, and to pass on those skills to their children.
McArdle doesn't come out and call the poor depraved sluts as Mr. French does, but that's why she makes the big bucks. She says it with moderation and charts, but she still says it all the same.