NY Times Columnist: Republicans Right on Liberal Inner City Failures

"President Reagan was right when he said that the best social program is a job."


Nicholas Kristof's article is really a bait and switch, admitting that Republicans were right about three major liberal social policy failures in the inner city... but offering only more of the same liberal social policies.

"Conservatives have been proved right about three big ideas of social policy. Liberals may grimace, but hear me out on these points," he writes.

"STRONG FAMILIES Conservatives highlight the primacy of family and argue that family breakdown exacerbates poverty, and they’re right. Children raised by single parents are three times as likely to live in poverty as kids in two-parent homes."

"One historic mistake by liberals in social policy was the condemnation of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s warning in 1965 of the breakdown of the African-American family. He wasn’t racist; he was prescient, for the same breakdown has since occurred in white-working-class families as well."

But Kristof goes on to argue that Republican solutions of promoting marriage don't work, but abortion clinics do. Nothing holds the family together... like abortion.

Kristof isn't completely wrong about the fact that some Republican family initiatives haven't produced great results because the breakup of the family is part economic and part cultural and the solutions are completely inadequate to the problem.

That's a point that Kristof avoids because he doesn't talk about the reasons for the collapse of the family.

"JOB CREATION President Reagan was right when he said that the best social program is a job. Good jobs also strengthen families. Evidence has grown that jobs are important not only to our economic well-being but also to self-esteem. Indeed, long-term unemployment seems to lead to shortened life expectancy."

His preferred solutions, more job training and prison reform, again don't deal with the source of the problem. You don't create jobs that way. Some vocational programs work, but the big picture is that some type of jobs have gone away and you can't just slot everyone into the so-called knowledge economy.

SCHOOL REFORM Republicans were right to blow the whistle on broken school systems, for education in inner-city schools is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. Democrats, in cahoots with teachers’ unions and protective of a dysfunctional system, were long part of the problem.

Bravo to Republicans for protesting that teachers’ unions were sometimes protecting disastrous teachers (including, in New York City, one who passed out drunk in her classroom, with even the principal unable to rouse her). Likewise, some of the most successful schools in the inner cities have been charters in the Knowledge Is Power Program, showing what is possible even in troubled cities.

And then having conceded that the problem is teachers' unions, he goes on to argue that the Republicans are wrong for believing that.

Republicans sometimes suggest that our biggest educational problem is teachers’ unions themselves. That’s absurd. States with strong teachers’ unions in the North like Massachusetts have better schools than states in the South with weak unions.

So the solution, Universal Pre-K. Because nothing solves a broken educational system like shoving more kids into it at an earlier age.

Kristof's article is a bait and switch, flattering Republicans by accepting their core policy critiques and then urging them to support the same broken liberal policy solutions.

"You're right. Now let's do the wrong thing we say you should do."