Conservative Columnist: Social Problems Are Caused By “Depravity Of The Poor”


One of the underlying threads of conservative thought is that the rich are inherently hard working and “earn” their good fortune, and the poor almost always are poor due to some sort of moral lacking.  It’s the Horatio Alger, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality run a muck — the idea that with enough effort and a pure heart, every person will eventually be successful, and if you are not, it must be a sign of weakness of character.

This is the assumption that makes the right believe that most people on welfare, on unemployment, using food stamps or other government aid must be lazy, or lacking in courage, determination or pride.  No one “needs” government assistance because they should be able to care for themselves, and a “handout” just makes them try even less.

It’s usually not discussed publicly in so many words, even though that’s what many believe.  But David French of the National Review Online doesn’t have any qualms about coming right out and voicing it himself.

It is simply a fact that our social problems are increasingly connected to the depravity of the poor. If an American works hard, completes their education, gets married, and stays married, then they will rarely — very rarely — be poor. At the same time, poverty is the handmaiden of illegitimacy, divorce, ignorance, and addiction. As we have poured money into welfare, we’ve done nothing to address the behaviors that lead to poverty while doing all we can to make that poverty more comfortable and sustainable.

So there are almost no “educated poor”?  Rarely any “married poor”?  And if the poor always fall into one of these categories of “depravity” that need to be addressed, why are conservatives so anxious to cut the means of addressing them, such as public education, access to affordable colleges, an ability to obtain birth control so that marriage can be saved for those who really are committed to being lifelong partners and not just people who happened to accidentally get pregnant?

Does “depravity” lead to poverty, or is it more often lack of livable wage jobs?  Instead of fighting to cut off the programs that allegedly sustain poverty and make it comfortable, how about focusing on increasing minimum wage and employee rights in the workplace?

The only depravity I’ve been seeing lately hasn’t been coming from the poor.  It’s the callousness of man to his fellow man.

Related Links:

Food Stamp Use Rises As Employers Refuse To Pay Living Wages

Are The Poor Standing In the Way Of Tax Increases For The Rich?

The Rich Get Guard Dogs and the Poor Get Food Stamp Cuts

Photo credit: Matthew Woitunski via wikimedia


Karen A.
Karen A6 years ago

Gary D, you are horrifyingly incorrect. One doesn't have to be leftist liberal or even a democrat to see that there is very little middle class anymore. And you are quite wrong..most of us have fewer material goods than our parents did!

And by the way--I worked for NYC myself as a caseworker for many years and therefore went into all disadvantaged areas.I saw plenty of *what* you are talking about, except you're mistaking what you're seeing as *cause*, rather than *effect* of poverty!

Rin S.
Rin S6 years ago

"The only depravity I’ve been seeing lately hasn’t been coming from the poor. It’s the callousness of man to his fellow man."
Completely agree with this last sentence.

Michael Hester
Michael Hester6 years ago

So does this mean that there is no depravity among the wealthy? How do you think they GOT to be so rich? They lied, cheated, and stole at every angle, and made their actions legal through loopholes and contracts, or in some cases didn't even bother to make their actions legal, and just made them secretive.

Carole R.
Carole R6 years ago

Some good points but there are also the poor who are there by no fault of their own. The ones who did work hard but either lost a job or got an illness that prevents them from working. Once you loose your job and do get another, you are "low man on the pole" and the first to be laid off. That can go on all your working years. Last hired, first fired. An illness can run up hospital bills and Dr. bills that no one but the very rich could ever get out from under. When, at the same time, you can no longer work. In such a case you will be "poor" the rest of your life, through no fault of your own. Life does not always go as planned. Following the rules does not assure the perfect end result.

Toby S.
Past Member 6 years ago

You have hit the nail on the head in this article. I completely agree.

Please go to the Care2 Petitionsite and sign my petition to stop fraud in court by "officers".

It is clear the poor have nearly no legal protections and allowing fraud by attorneys, prosecutors and judges, disproportunately affects them. But it robs the middle class, making them the new poor, while these BAR members prosper handsomely.

Camila K.
Kamila A6 years ago

A society that lacks compassion is a doomed society. We have a very complex society with a myriad of problems and reasons why people fall apart that started generations ago. It begins when the mother of the child doesn't give the child a decent beginning, and when families fall apart. It goes on from there. But everyone is part of this society and whether you think of them as depraved or not, you are also part of the hope for the solution, or its opposite, you are part of the problem.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G6 years ago

He has a point there!

Gary D.
Gary D.6 years ago

French is correct. All you need do is ride as an observer in a police cruiser or busy fire/rescue truck a few times in any large city ghetto. Believe me, you'll see and learn things that will shock you. I don't understand the left's demonization of the rich unless it's pure envy. The poor and middle class aren't poorer because the richer are richer. Without the rich there would be far fewer non-governmental jobs. Few among you have less material wealth than your parents or grandparents did. The middle class of today has substantially more wealth than most of the rich did a century ago. The wealth of the western world has increased dramatically since WWII and middle class wealth of all countries including the USA is at an all time high. If you can't make it go of it in the USA today you'll not make it anywhere. More people from more countries immigrate to the US to become wealthy. Will you also demonize them when they succeed? If you’re not happy with your lot in life it isn't the rich that caused your unhappiness. Stop blaming the rich and take responsibility for yourself. Oh...I'm not rich. I've always been grateful for the income I made. Cheers

Gemma M.

I agree with David French about social problems being caused by depravity, but I disagree about who are the depraved ones.

Mary B.
Mary B6 years ago

Some people are still spewing this nonsense because they don't realize people are waking up and understanding how the rich have been benefiting from the under-paid classes for ever. They are so used to dealing with those as dumbed down as themselves that they haven't noticed how the middle class has slid down the tubes and are now sharing space with real live poor people and they 'get it' that poverty is the result of our dysfuctional, out of date economic theories and all the hard work and playing by the rules will not help when the jobs and costomers are gone and affordable houseing can't be found, while foreclosed on homes sit empty and vulnerable to destruction.And some of us know full well what needs to be done if we can just get it past those fools who always make poverty a moral issue.