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On Bobo’s Victim-Blaming


As a long-time admirer of the passive-aggressive responses required by NYT conventions, I can’t not link to this Krugman post, which gets perilously close to the line by linking to a direct critique of Brooks:

William Julius Wilson, in When Work Disappears, famously argued that it was a symptom: good jobs in inner cities, where African-American men could take them, went away, and the cultural changes followed.

So, how could you test that hypothesis? Well, here’s an experiment: change the structure of the economy in such a way that a large class of white men — say, white men without a college degree — similarly lose access to good jobs. If Wilson was right, we’d expect to see a sharp decline in stable marriages, a rise in unwed births, growing drug use, and other forms of social disruption.

And that is, in fact, exactly what happened: William Julius Wilson was right. Which makes it remarkable to see people look at that very evidence and say that it shows that the real problem isn’t money, it’s values.

The linked Stoker Bruenig post is worth your time as well.

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