Don’t Let the Left Claim the Moral High Ground on Poverty

by David French

I downloaded Kevin Williamson’s Encounter Broadside, The Dependency Agenda, the day it was available and devoured it on a flight from Nashville to Denver.  I meant to post about the book at the time, but I was reminded to by this excellent short video from Encounter:


One of the more irritating aspects of public debate over poverty policies is the almost bulletproof sense of moral superiority oozing from every pore of both the secular and religious progressive elite. They’re the only ones who care. They’re the only ones who “seek justice.” We’re the ones who sum up our entire world view with a single sentence, “Greed is good.” (By the way, it’s astonishing how many leftists seem to view Oliver Stone’s Wall Street — brick phones and all — as some sort of combination of documentary and divine insight into the conservative mind.)
As Kevin’s book makes clear (and the video outlines), Lyndon Johnson went to war against poverty, and poverty won. It is not “compassionate” to spend trillions more dollars on programs that are more social flypaper than trampoline. And you are not “protecting” the poor by preserving failed polices from budgetary limits. If “social justice” looks like the permanent poverty spawned by the Great Society, then consider me opposed.
If anyone should hold the moral high ground in the poverty debate, it should be conservatives (not that the moral high ground is all that meaningful). In a world where stigma too often substitutes for argument, we cannot permit the Left to stigmatize our level of concern for the poor and the “least of these” in our nation and culture.

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