The Corner

Okay, Strike Two

In a real sense the poor do have it worse, as a general proposition. You can’t watch these images and really conclude otherwise. I do think that I am entirely right about the nature of suffering in that it cannot be measured by a simple economic metric. For example, contrary to the grief I give Rich, I make a comfortable living. I don’t think my grief would have been 1/1,000th less had I made ten times as much when my father died. And I don’t think it would have been 1/1,000th more if I made half as much. That was how I saw it. To me measuring such things by an economic calculus seems as grotesque as some people seem to think it is not to.

But, while watching this footage of these poor people with absolutely no place to go and with the prospects of the city being closed for months it’s pretty obvious — as I said — the hardships affecting the poor become more pronounced and disproportionate. Your heart really does have to go out to these poor souls. I still don’t think grief and misery can be measured economically, but as this disaster stretches out over time, it seems impossible to deny that the grief and misery will be extended longer the further down the economic ladder you go. I sympathize for more for a middle class family which has lost everything it worked for than I do for some thug having a grand time smashing a jewelry shop window. But looking at these poor women carrying their kids aimlessly through the muck with no place to go, you have to concede their lot would be much better with the means to find a dry bed at the end of the day.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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