Over on the Right, they scramble for any explanation of social problems that avoids public investment. It’s all about things like “personal responsibility,” staying in school, getting married, and so forth. There’s a grain of truth to valuing responsibility, initiative, education and so forth, but given the economic trends of the last 30 years or so, it’s more than a stretch – hell, it’s an outright lie – to say it can all be solved if people would just behave better.
As Prof. Krugman recently pointed out:
“These days crime is way down, so is teenage pregnancy, and so on; society did not collapse. What collapsed instead is economic opportunity. If progress against poverty has been disappointing over the past half century, the reason is not the decline of the family but the rise of extreme inequality. We’re a much richer nation than we were in 1964, but little if any of that increased wealth has trickled down to workers in the bottom half of the income distribution.”