Sunday, February 13, 2011

Round We Go

Obama's getting ready to present his new budget proposal.  Conservatives are already saying it its cuts don't go far enough.  Liberals just want their social programs.

You know, is it really so complicated?  Won't there just always be ghettos, wherein most of the crime will occur? Hasn't this always been the case?

Or at least whenever there has been some semblance of property rights. Because you have the haves living together in one area, the have-nots living together in another area. This creates very different normative behaviors which have their own inertia. Broken windows theory.

It seems to me a simple pragmatism that says, OK, we're not going to have perfect egalitarianism any time soon. So let's take a bunch of our resources and target the inner-city/ghetto/etc. We'll do our best to provide a safety net, and put out some scaffolding so as many people can climb out as possible.  It won't break the bank.  We'll spend maybe, 5-10% of our wealth on helping them out.

But the reservoir is going to keep filling with spill-over from other areas of society - those who for whatever reason found themselves failing. Maybe they had bad luck. Maybe they're lazy (I hate that word, as it's meaningless, but it does at least describe a general behavior). Maybe they have issues. Maybe they don't know how to make the system work for them. Etc.

They'll find the cheapest part of town to live in. They'll have children. Those children will go to school with a high percentage of kids from similarly failing backgrounds.

I don't see what the big deal is. There are a lot of things we do that work to help change lives. There's stuff that doesn't. But we learn from it, and design better and better systems of dealing with this problem that seems kind of built in to modern social and economic systems. But the Wax/Mac Donald idea of "waiting for culture to change" just seems, well, idiotic. This problem has been around since biblical times - and long before. Jesus wasn't talking about some different, special kind of "poor". This is just life. It's being human. I won't give up on Utopian fantasies of true egalitarianism. But I realize we need to be practical.

No comments:

Post a Comment