David French’s piece in National Review Online, discussed in the preceding post, asserts three things: (i) that “our social problems are increasingly connected to the depravity of the poor;” (2) that “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.” (3) that there is a lack of virtue among the poor, as evidenced by church attendance “falling off a cliff for the poorest and least-educated Americans,” disconnecting them “from the very values that can save them and their families.”
- The economy has lost at least 9 million jobs since the financial crash. This does not include the additional openings that would exist if GDP growth had continued along its long-term trendline. An argument that blames the “depravity of the poor” for their predicament, without acknowledging that jobs are terribly scarce for people of limited education is clueless and tone deaf beyond belief.
- One of the things liberals advocate to “address the behaviors that lead to poverty,” is a Federal program to rebuild key infrastructure like bridges and overpasses on interstate highways, many of which are in disrepair. Does French support that? If so, he is the first person writing under NRO’s masthead to do so. Does he support expanding the availability of Pell grants, so that people who cannot otherwise afford college can go without being saddled with mountains of student loans? No. He doesn’t.
- While it may be true that there has been an increase in excessive drinking, drug use, prostitution, and other undesirable behaviors since the financial crash, French has the causation backward. These things are the result of the joblessness caused by the crash — not its cause. Anyone who doubts it should read “Pinched,” by Don Peck, summarized here.
- On the subject of “virtue,” where is the evidence that people who attend church regularly are more virtuous than those who do not?
- How does it fall to French to assess the moral worthiness of individuals struggling under extreme hardship?
Also read VW’s excellent point-by-point response to French in his comment at bottom of this page. Beginning with the words “Wow. just wow,” it’s an excellent rant.