How Personal Responsibility Is The Key To A Better Neighborhood

A recent letter to the editor grabbed my attention.

The writer put forth the solution that ending poverty is based on personal responsibility and not government intervention.

He cited a number of behaviors that lead to prosperity rather than poverty.

•    Stay in school; get an education.
•    Don’t have children before marriage or before you have the money to support them
•    Don’t do drugs
•    Get a job and work hard

At first read, there is not much to argue against is there?

He lost me when he stated, “those who adhere to these behaviors will be positioned to live in a neighborhood with other smart and successful people.”  (Fist bump to forehead accompanied by major eye-roll.)

I’ll bet there are those who follow this man’s advice but are forced to live in “poverty plagued housing.” People with modest means often have no other choice. Gentrification of working-class neighborhoods has eliminated affordable housing for many.

Today many working-class families are one misfortune away from requiring assistance. They have jobs, work hard and don’t use drugs. Medical emergencies, illness, or death of a wage earner can wipe out the resources of people who are barely scraping by.

He summarized, “Subsidize anything and you get more of it. Poverty is the best example.”

The person who penned the letter regarding personal responsibility obviously enjoys the rarified air and sense of privilege that permits him to live in a neighborhood with other smart and successful people.

Exactly what does he consider subsidies? I can almost guarantee it depends on your neighborhood.

People who live in smart and successful neighborhoods call it a “subsidy” or “entitlement.” When it benefits the wealthy it’s called “reform.”

Far-flung generalities and  Dickensian observations regarding poverty are proof that troglodytes survived and live among us.

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