Tuesday, September 13, 2005
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Is George Will reading Megan McArdle?
Megan McArdle, "The poor really are different," Asymmetrical Information, September 9, 2005:
George Will, "A Poverty of Thought," Washington Post, September 13, 2005.
What's interesting is that McArdle and Will end up at somewhat different places with the same basic starting point.
Other reads relevant to this conversation for today: Jon Hilsenrath's Wall Street Journal piece on what economists think about rebuilding New Orleans. Money quote from urban economist Ed Glaeser: "Given just how much, on a per capita basis, it would take to rebuild New Orleans to its former glory, lots of residents would be much [better off] with $10,000 and a bus ticket to Houston."
Then there are these Washington Post poll numbers:
posted by Dan on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM
The "three simple rules" thesis has been circulating for years.
They're both borrowing from someone else, though I can't remember whom.
I do recall that Will's framing is more true to the original.posted by: KipEsquire on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
It's clear Megan's a better writer than George.posted by: Orville on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
original or no, it's useful information that does not seem to be getting to those who could benefit from it.posted by: kurt on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
Greg Easterbrook hass the three simple rules in his most recent book.posted by: matt on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
Greg Easterbrook has the three simple rules in his most recent book.posted by: matt on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
It is notable that Megan and Will ignore the 0th rule, the most fundamental rule of avoiding poverty.
0) Be sure to chose your parents carefully.posted by: erg on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
The percentage of middle class people who believe in having no more than 2 children, or -- at least where mothers with children are concerned -- in always working full time is not 99% or anything close to it. That (more than McArdle's omission of the point about not having children before age 20, which was probably not deliberate) is a significant difference between her view and Will's; she is saying that poor people, to avoid poverty, must behave differently from large numbers of middle-class people, while Will less restrictively argues that they need to behave in the same way that middle-class people do. It is of course true that people who wait to have children are likely to have fewer of them, but the age of a child's parents and whether or not they are married are more important than how many siblings the child has.
Where Will and McArdle might agree is that people who ignore one of the rules Will lists are likely to ignore the others as well, creating a barrier to economic advancement to formidable to overcome.posted by: Zathras on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
Glad to see someone is speaking for the 13 million children in this country whose poverty is the result of an accident of birth, the same accident which, presumably, spared McArdle and Will the same life of poverty.posted by: Randy Paul on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
As Tony Blankely says, those poll numbers show that when Howard Dean and the more professional race-baiters cry racism, they're turning off over 80% of the electorate.
The Dems could get smart and focus on something that's true and could greatly hurt Bush: Katrina rebuilding jobs going to illegal aliens.
It's really not too American for those jobs to go to citizens of another country who are here illegally rather than to the hundreds of thousands who were unemployed by the hurricane.
I'd say the Dems are too dim to make an issue of this, but Jesse Jackson has raised the issue, so maybe it will filter up to the higher levels of the Dem Party.posted by: Lonewacko: Illegal immigration news on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
wow I just love it when white people get all self-righteous.
It's especially endearing after we've all seen the poor black people of New Orleans forced to go hungry and thirsty and even die because the rich white Rethugs in Washington couldn't prioritize their catastrophe.
Now let's blame the poor black people for illegitimacy! bad schools! no jobs! Blame blame blame - Have a satisfying fit, people. Maybe it will make those queasy feelings at what Katrina exposed about our beloved oligarchy to all the world go away.
You haven't got a clue what reality is. Drowning your guilt in recrimination won't give you one.
The place to start understanding how things are, is to study how they were. History, ya know. Here in San Francisco, for example, when they did 'Urban Renewal' back in the 50's they destroyed the central city black business district. Hundreds of businesses, bulldozed. Our black community is mostly in the projects now. City racism is a huge part of what put them there. Ad nauseum.
If you wanted to know, you'd know in 15 minutes.
I think both blacks and whites are somewhat correct when deciding if racism had a part in the slow response to the Katrina aftermath.
I doubt that very many in places of power actively decided not to help the people in New Orleans because they were black and poor.
On the other hand, you have to imagine that if a disaster struck Santa Barbara or West Palm Beach that those people would immediately be on the phone to their representatives in the government goading them into immediate action. Being poor and black the residents of New Orleans were ignored by the government.
According to Newsweek Bush didn't even begin to understand that there was a serious tragedy in New Orleans till Thursday night.posted by: JohnK on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
Erg's 0th rule applies only to those children who live in pockets of poverty where they have no examples of upward mobility to show them how it's done. Kids learn from role models, and if they don't see people climbing out of poverty, they're less likely to adopt the necessary disciplines than otherwise. Fortunately, a lot of poor people do rise to the middle class, so evidently such dysfunctional environments as described by McArdle and Will aren't everywhere where there is poverty.
I know middle-class children who have descended into poverty, so picking the right parents doesn't always work.posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
The great change in US society during the 20th
I hope that during the 21st century we can
The most important rule to removing oneself from
It is still true that a minority person has to
But American Businesses today, of all sizes,
This may be sage advice for youngster, but for the frail elderly men and women (diabetic, high blood pressure, etc.) who were too sick and too poor to get out of New Orleans the advice doesn't do much good.
As a conservative (real, not the Bush corporate whore type conservative) I'm embarassed that so much of the rhetoric has brushed very closely to being racist, worse yet, stupid.posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
I agree with Ted, that while many of the legal hurdles have been removed from black advancement, a great deal of the social one still remain. A new study which doesn nothing but confirm what about every study of its kind in the last 20 years shows that blacks are routinely and systematically discrimanted against on mortgages, and you could include personal and business loans, as well as blind resumes from social studies. It is just a fact that African-Americans are imposed a social tax by American society on levels of achievement. Yes, affirmative action may help some, but that tax remains. You would be surprised by how many people that I know still have used a white friend to help them close a deal on house, which is a sadly rational decision by African-Americans.posted by: Daren on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
My 0th rule is far more universal and far, far more applicable than Will's rules. The ovarian lottery is by far the single biggest factor influencing our lives. If the lottery led to your being born in a poor rural family in India or China or in sub saharan Africa, then all the "necessary discplines" are extremely unlikely to help you. There will still be the occasional standout, but its darn rare.
Now, if you're born in the US (itself a sign that you were lucky in the ovarian lottery), then even if you're poor, you still have a better chance of getting ahead than elsewhere. But the ovarian lottery is still far more important than any other influences.posted by: erg on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
In 1988, Norman Macrae, in the Economist, wrote, "Although 13% of Americans are below the poverty level, it is proven and publicized that an American has less than a 1% danger of staying long below it provided she or he does three things:" Thr three 'rules' were: Finish high school, work for one year even at minium wage, and get and stay married.posted by: Peter on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
"You would be surprised by how many people that
I, for one, wouldn't be all that surprised.
It seems that the color of one's skin is
How sad for us as a nation.posted by: Ted on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
posted by: Klug on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
The ovarian lottery is by far the single biggest factor influencing our lives. If the lottery led to your being born in a poor rural family in India or China or in sub saharan Africa, then all the "necessary discplines" are extremely unlikely to help you.
Good point. I was thinking of poverty within the US and not globally when I posted my previous comment. To nit-pick, I'd call that the nation-of-residence lottery, to more closely identify the relevant source of the worldwide poverty problem: lack of economic freedom. Mom can theoretically move to a freer nation, and even some poverty-stricken souls manage to escape their respective hellholes, but many are not capable of doing so.posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 09.13.05 at 01:04 PM [permalink]
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