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Jonah Goldberg: 'There are No Poor People in America'
Wisco | October 30, 2006 at 08:16 amby
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You've got to wonder why anyone takes the National Review's Jonah
Goldberg seriously. He starts following what may or may not be a
reasonable argument and winds up smack dab in the middle of Crazytown.
In the column
I read yesterday, Goldberg begins by saying that the economy is a
largely out of the hands of politicians. Not unreasonable, right?
not until he gives an example, anyway. "The biggest picture is the one
most obscured by our dated arguments," Goldberg tells us. "Poverty, as
defined for millennia, is pretty much nonexistent in the United
States." You read that right, there aren't any poor people in the US.
To back this up, he quotes what amounts to sociological voodoo; "'If
poverty today remains a serious problem," Christopher DeMuth noted in
Commentary magazine nearly a decade ago, "'It is a problem of
individual behavior, social organization and public policy. This was
not so 50 years ago, or ever before."'
If poverty wasn't about 'individual behavior, social organization and public policy,' what did
it used be about? And that really should be an 'or', not an 'and.'
There are plenty of people for whom the social structure and public
policy are the entire reason for their poverty, while behavior doesn't
enter into it at all.
People who argue that poverty is the fault
of the poor are missing a big chunk of reality. In their world,
everyone working at a wage near the legal minimum has made a bad
choice. But what they fail to see is that we need those people
doing those jobs -- even Caesar needed someone to shovel out the
stables. Their 'perfect' world would either have CEOs swabbing out
their own executive bathrooms or toilet swabbies making $15/hour...