When I read this bit of George Will’s recent column —
The 1930s paradigm [of poverty] has been refuted by four decades of experience. The new paradigm is of behavior-driven poverty that results from individuals’ nonmaterial deficits. It results from a scarcity of certain habits and mores — punctuality, hygiene, industriousness, deferral of gratification, etc. — that are not developed in disorganized homes.
— I had to choke back a little vomit. And then I started composing an appropriately caustic, dismissive post in my head.
As Kevin Drum too-gently points out, the notion that the poor are poor because they’re lazy and shiftless is hardly a new paradigm. It’s very, very old.
But rather than heaping scorn on Will’s head, I just refer you to Ezra Klein’s substantive dismantling of the claim — and, while you’re at it, Klein’s longer piece on poverty.