Flood the Zone
David Brooks makes some good points:
Every once in a while, the Obama administration will promulgate a policy that is truly demoralizing. A willingness to end the District of Columbia school voucher program was one such case. The decision to force Catholic social service providers to support contraception and other practices that violate their creed is another.
These decisions are demoralizing because they make it harder to conduct a serious antipoverty policy.
The essential truth about poverty is that we will never fully understand what causes it. There are a million factors that contribute to poverty, and they interact in a zillion ways.
Some of the factors are economic: the shortage of low-skill, entry-level jobs. Some of the factors are historical: the legacy of racism. Some of the factors are familial: the breakdown in early attachments between infants and caregivers and the cognitive problems that often result from that. Some of them are social: the shortage of healthy role models and mentors.
The list of factors that contribute to poverty could go on and on, and the interactions between them are infinite. Therefore, there is no single magic lever to pull to significantly reduce poverty. The only thing to do is change the whole ecosystem.
…The administration's policies on school vouchers and religious service providers are demoralizing because they weaken this ecology by reducing its diversity. By ending vouchers, the administration reduced the social intercourse between neighborhoods. By coercing the religious charities, it is teaching the faithful to distrust government, to segregate themselves from bureaucratic overreach, to pull inward.
February 6, 2012