The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

Individual Responsibility

I have stolen this thought from David Brooks. He wrote a column some months ago in which he opined that progressives and conservatives both get it wrong with regard to poverty. Conservatives believe the entire responsibility for poverty rests with the individual. Progressives believe the responsibility totally is caused by societal injustice.

In reality the truth lies in the middle. There is no question that individuals from impoverished backgrounds are up against the eight ball from before they are born. The effects of racism and privilege are real. Nevertheless, individuals make poor choices that significantly harm their lives. It is not asking a lot to expect families to complete high school, avoid crime, and not get pregnant as teenagers. I fully understand that poor people have no margin for error when they make bad choices while wealthier people may sometimes get off the hook. Written by Paul Dribin


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