Just say it Paul: it’s Brooks you have in mind

Economist Paul Krugman thinly masks a sharp disdain for David Brooks, who has been no stranger to my commentaries (just search for “David Brooks”). This morning Krugman once again takes on those pundits who blame poverty on value deficiency.

It has been disheartening to see some commentators still writing as if poverty were simply a matter of values, as if the poor just mysteriously make bad choices and all would be well if they adopted middle-class values.

Krugman points out that the poor suffer from lack of resources. Governments at all levels have squeezed social spending. Nor should we ever expect “the free market” to provide the necessary jobs and adequate pay to solve poverty problems.

The point is that there is no excuse for fatalism as we contemplate the evils of poverty in America. Shrugging your shoulders as you attribute it all to values is an act of malign neglect. The poor don’t need lectures on morality, they need more resources — which we can afford to provide — and better economic opportunities, which we can also afford to provide through everything from training and subsidies to higher minimum wages. Baltimore, and America, don’t have to be as unjust as they are.