The Corner

A Cultural Gap

Newt is right on the merits of the work-for-kids issue. But the ever-annoying Juan Williams is also right that this issue pushes buttons and drives liberals crazy, partly because they really do hear a very different backstory, and also because it is so very easy to portray poor, black kids as victims. If you are conservative, it makes sense to empower poor kids by teaching them how to work, and paying them for it. If you are liberal, paying some poor kids for working is a way of stigmatizing them for not having lots of money. It’s like sending them to the workhouse, or setting them up for bullying. Better not to do that, even if it means that they have no real entry to the workforce.

I no longer think that it will be possible to bridge this cultural gulf in our time. I just hope that the idea gets tried somewhere, and enough poor kids have the gumption to take jobs that lead to successful work lives. For that matter, it wouldn’t be so bad for more middle-class kids to have jobs.



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