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The 47% Solution: Yes, If You’re Poor, It Really May Be Your Fault

It's a heresy even in so-called "conservative" circles, but one actual ex-poor person is here to assure you: your own foolish choices can condemn you (and your children) to poverty.

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

September 26, 2012 - 7:30 am

That’s why I get a kick out of pundits like Michael Gerson, whose response to the “47%” uproar included this bit:

While the Romney video was making news, I was reading some recent research by Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam. He recounts an interview with a woman given the fictional name of Mary Sue, who lives in a declining industrial town in Ohio. Mary Sue’s parents divorced when she was young. Her mother became a stripper and left for days at a time. Her stepmother beat her and confined her to a single room. Mary Sue told the interviewer that, for a time, her only friend had been a yellow mouse who shared the apartment.

Mary Sue went in and out of juvenile detention. One boyfriend burned her arms with cigarettes. Her current partner has two children by two other women.

Is such a story really explainable as a failure of personal responsibility?

Let’s quickly bypass the amusing-to-me fact that wealthy Michael Gerson apparently had to read a book written by another rich guy so he’d have a poor person to write about.

(I’m guessing he’s also not signing over the check he gets from last week’s column to “Mary Sue.”)

(And the other amusing fact that Robert Putnam notoriously held back his most famous findings because they weren’t politically correct — although he now denies doing just that.)

To answer Gerson’s question:

As a matter of fact… yes.

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