Insights from Quadrant

Leaving it all behind

National Review’s Kevin Williamson writes of ghetto life in the US and the best way to break the generational cycle of dysfunctional communities, poverty and wasted lives, but he might almost be addressing Aboriginal disadvantage:

No conservative social critic ever blinked an eye or coughed up his cognac when the best advice from the right to the discontented and ambitious poor was to get out of the ghetto or the barrio, get an education, get a job, and start a new life and a new family in some more prosperous corner of the county or country. But the dead and dying and white towns of Appalachia and the Rust Belt are another story. “Why should they have to go elsewhere?” our freshly created populists demand. The answer is, Because the lives they desire are not to be had where they are; their communities, along with their families in many cases, are terribly sick, and the hard truth is that they’d be better off putting some distance between themselves and them.

Some of the diseases of poverty are individual, but some of them thrive in congregation (gang violence is the obvious example), and the only treatment for these is dilution. A 2000 Brookings study of Jack Kemp’s famous Moving to Opportunity program found “striking” evidence that poor families who moved out of poor communities with help from the Department of Housing and Urban Development earned more, enjoyed better health, and saw their children do better in school than did families who stayed behind.

Kerryn Pholi took up much the same issue at Quadrant Online in 2017.

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