Bloomberg, July 30, 2019: Stop blaming America’s poor for their poverty
Many conservatives in the U.S. believe that poverty is mainly a result of bad personal decisions. African Americans are especially likely to be blamed for their own poverty — an attitude that some political scientists call racial resentment. Stereotypes of so-called welfare queens have been a staple of Republican messaging for decades. But conservatives also attribute similar failings to poor white people. In a memorable 2016 article, National Review writer Kevin Williamson blamed divorce and substance abuse for the despair of the white working class.
According to this perspective, if people were just to work hard, avoid drugs, alcohol and violence, and stop having children out of wedlock, poverty would be rare. But there is at least one rich country where people follow all of these prescriptions — where they work hard, avoid risky, self-destructive behavior and make wise life choices. That country is Japan. And it still has plenty of poverty.