As if on cue, Republican Party nominee for Vice President and current congressman, Paul Ryan, was back in the news warning about “generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work, so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”
Ryan then offers a bait and switch, condemning government programs that have historically addressed the consequences of poverty and offering up free market solutions, like limiting long-term unemployment insurance and opposing living wage policies. Somehow his fear of a “dependency culture” has led him to believe in the superior intelligence of private enterprise and the character faults of an underclass bred to depend on government assistance. How I would love to agree with him, but then we would both be horribly wrong.
For some historical antecedents to this debate, read my two-part series from “Becoming Conscious of Capitalism”, beginning with How Wealth Became Concentrated and the Poor Were to Blame: Paupers are Everywhere.